By Dr. Peter Rouse Ph.D, B.S, NMT
It is an unfortunate fact that clients and patients that we are seeing today are in a worst state health than what we may have been seeing ten years ago (for those who can remember that far back).
They are being misled by an establishment whose sole interest is financial rather than the health of the people that they are meant to represent, but I won’t go off on a tangent discussing that issue.
There is an old saying “death begins in the colon”, in fact this should really be the digestive system but I guess it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The digestive system is where we should start looking at our clients and patients state of health.
Before we go any further we should cover some basics of the digestive system that a lot of you may already know but some may not be so familiar with.
Digestion is the process of breaking down food into molecules the body can use, it’s the absorption of nutrients, and the elimination of waste. Carbohydrates are broken down to monosaccharides (eg. glucose), proteins are broken down to amino acids and lipids are broken down to fatty acids and glycerol.
There are two mechanisms of breaking the food down for digestion, mechanical digestion where breaking chunks of food into smaller pieces and chemical digestion which further breaks food down further ready for absorption.
Once the food reaches the stomach the food is churned mixing it with the gastric fluid, this mixture is referred to as chyme. Chyme moves from the stomach to the small intestine.
Gastric fluid carries out chemical digestion in the stomach. Parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen and ensures a low pH in the stomach. This acidic environment allows the pepsinogen to be converted to pepsin, dissolves minerals, kills bacteria and begins the digestion of protein while also stimulating the pancreas to produce other digestive enzymes and bile. Pepsin begins the breakdown of proteins into peptide chains (chains of amino acids). Pepsin functions in a pH of about 2 so having optimal HCl levels is very important. Because of the strong acidity of the HCl A mucus (mucopolysaccharides) coats the stomach and protects it from HCl and digestive enzymes.
This is where many of your clients and patients problems begin. Hypochlorhydria is a condition where there is a lack of production of hydrochloric acid. This condition is far more common than you may think. Over ninety prevent of our personal clients and patients that we test have some level of underproduction of hydrochloric acid and we have heard similar numbers for others.
Some of the symptoms of hypochlorhydria include diarrhea, steatorrhea, macrocytic anemia, weight loss, weight gain, protein-losing enteropathy, abdominal discomfort, bloating, reflux, undigested food in stools, dysbiosis and the list goes on and on. deficiencies in certain nutrients due to lack of absorption may result in other seemingly unrelated symptoms.
An item called “intrinsic factor” may also be deficient, because it also is made by the parietal cells which produce HCl and pepsinogen. Intrinsic factor makes the absorption of vitamin B12 possible which will result in B12 deficiency. This is another area that may need to be addressed.
There are several ways for testing levels of hydrochloric acid, some more invasive than others, however a simple non-invasive test that anyone can perform to determine if there is in fact an underproduction of hydrochloric acid. This test however should not be used if your client or patient has been diagnosed with gastritis or stomach ulcers.
The HCl test involves taking a hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplement. It is important that the HCl supplement also contains pepsin to be effective. As mentioned above pepsin is converted from pepsinogen that is produced by the parietal cells. These parietal cells also produce HCl so it is fair to assume if there is an underproduction of HCL there is more than likely an underproduction of pepsinogen (pepsin).
Start the test by taking 250mg of a hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplement with a normal meal that includes protein and fats. The HCl should be taken after you have eaten at least a few mouthfuls of the meal.
You should then have your client or patient take note of any increase feeling of warmth in their stomach. They will know what you are talking about when it does happen and if this warmth becomes uncomfortable then have them drink a large glass of water which will dilute the gastric fluid.
If after taking the first 250mg of HCL they get this warm feeling then they more than likely have normal hydrochloric acid production however the test should be repeated with several meals just to be sure.
If after taking the initial 250mg of HCl they do not get any increase feeling of warmth in their stomach then increase the dosage to 500mg of HCl with your next solid meal. Continue to increase the dose by 250mg at each subsequent meal until they either feel warmth in your stomach or they reach 1500mg of HCl. Never exceed 1500mg of HCl.
Once the dose has been determined that produces a warm sensation you now know that your client or patient require a dosage of 200-250mg less than that which created the warm sensation with each meal.
Be aware that smaller meals might require less and larger meals might require more. When consuming meals that contain little or no protein and fats, much less HCl is needed. Keep these points in mind when having your client or patient use HCl supplement and modify their usage accordingly. They should immediately notice changes like a decrease in bloating, belching, and less indigestion.