You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the dangers of too much stomach acid. But research reports that a little acidity helps protect humans from numerous diseases and unwanted conditions.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—like those purple pills you hear so much about on television—have been associated with pneumonia in a number of studies. That’s because stomach acid kills numerous pathogens including those that lead to pneumonia.
And that’s not the only problem with these highly touted PPIs. Scientists at Wake Forest University Health Services link PPIs to cardiac, metabolic, and orthopedic—as well as infectious—diseases, advising anyone taking these drugs to get a bone scan. “Use of drugs that inhibit gastric acid is associated with an increased risk of fracture,” reports another recent study in Gastroenterology.
What’s more, a recent Czech study shows that long-term use of PPIs not only increases the risk of bacterial overgrowth but also leads to malabsorption of nutrients from foods. Poor absorption of bone-building minerals can cause osteoporosis.
Acid Reflux May Not Mean What You Think…
With all the talk these days about the importance of alkalinity, we tend to forget that certain organs—like the stomach and colon—are designed to function in an acid medium. And for good reason!
Stomach acid helps protect against H. pylori, a “super bug” that causes ulcers, as well as others like E. coli and salmonella that are increasingly becoming a scourge.
In fact, some experts find that even acid reflux (a painful condition where stomach acid splashes up into the esophagus) is far more likely to be caused by too little—rather than too much—acid.
Before you consider dangerous drugs like PPIs, check to see if you have sufficient stomach acid—but not if you have a weakened stomach lining, ulcers, or hiatal hernia. These conditions need to be addressed with your chiropractic physician, naturopath or other health care practitioner and healed before you try the stomach acid challenge.
Take the Stomach Acid Challenge:
- Take a hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplement (500 to 550 mg betaine hydrochloride and 150 mg pepsin) or HCL+2 with a meal.
- Observe your body’s response. Extreme warmth means you have sufficient stomach acid—don’t add more!
- If you have no relief from digestive problems or feel no pain or warmth, double your HCl dose at the next meal.
- Continue adding HCl until you feel warmth or experience relief.
- After reaching your limit, take one less tablet with meals, and after 3 to 6 months, try gradually reducing your dosage.
The take-away message here: HCL+2 (hydrochloric acid with bile salts) promotes the digestion of protein, fat, and acid-based minerals (calcium, magnesium, and iron) for anyone with low stomach acid. If you are reluctant to use an HCl supplement, you can always try some apple cider vinegar in water. Add 2 teaspoons to 8 ounces of water which will help to acidify your stomach gently and enhance digestion.
The LES Connection
While HCl is certainly an issue for many individuals, it’s not the entire answer to reflux.
Sometimes the underlying cause is a weakened valve between the esophagus and stomach known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. Weakness in this muscle can lead to acid backup. Avoiding excess fats, alcohol, sugar, chocolate, coffee, and raw onions can keep this muscle strong, so that it stays closed when it’s supposed to—and keeps acid in your stomach, right where it belongs.