Supplementing with HCL for Digestion and Food Allergies

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is normally produced in response to every meal we eat. Hydrochloric acid acts like a meat tenderizer in breaking down proteins into their amino acid building blocks. Think of proteins as a strand of pearls with each pearl being an amino acid. If a protein is not totally broken down into individual amino acids, undigested proteins can make it into the blood stream. This can cause an allergic reaction. True allergies to 1 or 2 foods is not unlikely. However, if there are multiple food allergies, the problem is most likely insufficient production of hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid levels decline with age but its common for people to be born not producing enough.

*This is especially true for people whose mothers were over age 27 when they were born.* I had every one of my kids after I was age 27… so this was particularly interesting information for me when I first read it.

Hydrochloric acid also acts to sterilize everything we eat. Although you can’t see them, everything you put into your mouth is covered with germs. When this food reaches the stomach, the stomach sprays it with hydrochloric acid to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Hydrochloric acid protects you from food poisoning. Hydrochloric acid also keeps down the population of Candida yeast which normally resides in everyone’s colon. If hydrochloric acid levels get low, bacteria and yeast overgrow and feed off the food you eat. This can cause symptoms such as heart burn, reflux, excess gas/bloat, poor digestion, constipation, and other stomach problems. If the situation gets more serious due to a genetic predisposition, we see diseases such as irritable bowel (IBS), Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. If yeast over grows and is inhaled into the lungs, we see asthma. Yeast overgrowth can also weaken the immune system such that germs grow other places, such as the skin. Acne, eczema,and psoriasis are often due to low hydrochloric acid production. Additionally, the “good bacteria” in your gut, acidophilous, don’t do well unless there is plenty of hydrochloric acid (The name “acidophilous” means “acid loving”).

Hydrochloric acid is critical for the absorption of nutritional building blocks such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12, for instance, can’t be absorbed unless there is adequate hydrochloric acid. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms such as: Anemia, low energy, easy bruising/bleeding, bleeding gums, neuropathy (numbness/tingling) in hands/feet, depression, and memory loss that can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s. We need to supplement with hydrochloric acid to allow for adequate absorption of B-12.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Hydrochloric acid breaks down proteins into individual amino acids. These amino acid building blocks can then be used to make other proteins needed by the body or other compound molecules needed for normal functioning. Healthy hair, skin and nails require adequate absorption of amino acids. Muscle and bones are made of protein. The antibodies that protect us from germs are made of protein. Chemicals made in the brain called “neurotransmitters” control our ability to think, remember, and control our moods. If you are not able to absorb amino acids because your hydrochloric acid levels are low, you may develop depression or other psychiatric disorders.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is an important building block. However, if homocysteine levels get too high, it can lead to “heart attacks”, strokes, and Alzheimer’s. The B vitamins: B12, B6, folate, and B1 are important to keep homocysteine levels normal. Normal homocysteine levels are more important than normal cholesterol levels in preventing strokes and “heart attacks”. Most doctors are unaware of this and do not check homocysteine levels. Your level should be 8 or below.

For an adult, a good guideline is to begin by taking 4 HCL after each meal. The more animal protein you eat, the more hydrochloric acid you will need. Increase by 1 capsule each day until you feel a slight warm sensation in your stomach. Then decrease the number by one. Some get the warmth sensation with 8, so they take 7 each meal. This digestive help should allow you to stop taking acid blockers. Usually, heartburn and acid reflux are due to too little hydrochloric acid, not too much…

Excerpted from Roby Mitchell, MD

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