By Dr. Joseph A. Debé
Hypochlorhydria is the very common condition of inadequate production of hydrochloric acid by the parietal cells in the stomach. It is estimated that hypochlorhydria effects half of all people over age sixty-five. However, it can be present at any age.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. It also kills many organisms and helps to keep the stomach sterile. Hypochlorhydria can produce: belching, bloating, fullness for extended time after eating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, hair loss, weak finger nails… virtually any symptom. Autoimmune and degenerative diseases are caused in part by hypochlorhydria.
Hypochlorhydria, or the more severe achlorhydria (complete lack of hydrochloric acid), can result from several causes. One cause is use of acid blocking medications. These are often used for digestive symptoms that are actually due to lack of HCL!
Nutrient deficiencies can contribute to impaired HCL production. Histidine (an amino acid), zinc, and vitamin B1 are all needed for HCL production. If any of these are lacking in the diet or not absorbed properly, this can result in hypochlorhydria. Interestingly, the absorption of histidine and zinc are dependent upon the presence of adequate levels of HCL!
Stress can also impair HCL production. Various stress reduction techniques can be helpful. These include yoga, meditation, tai chi, and a special method called "Freeze Frame".
Alcohol consumption can damage the HCL producing cells in the stomach. So can consumption of food allergens. Avoidance is important.
Infection with the bacteria helicobacter pylori can also impair HCL production. This organism appears to be spread, at least in some instances, by flies. People with type O blood are more susceptible to infection with helicobacter pylori, as are those with a weakened immune system. Again, stress plays a role here. Medication or herbs can be used to eradicate this bacterium.
Supplementing with glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, duodenum concentrate, and vitamins A and B5 can help repair the acid secreting cells.
Until the body can begin secreting adequate levels of HCL on it’s own, supplemental HCL should be used (some cases of hypochlorhydria are irreversible). Only use supplemental HCL under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
You may also be interested in the Gastrointestinal Function Profile