The Elusive Cure for HIGH or LOW Stomach Acid / Hydrochloric Acid

Senior Wellness | Heartburn

The CURE is … wait for it … drum roll … There is NO CURE!

I know your saying, ‘DUH, I already know that, that is why am searching the internet!’

Some more bad news, if you are a seasoned (senior) citizen over the age of 50, like I am, you are in even more trouble. Take a look at the latest facts I have found in my own search:

  1. Over 90% of adults who suffer from reflux, have normal or below normal levels of stomach acid or HCl (Hydrochloric acid). WHAT?? read on..
  2. It is a fact that as we age, our acid levels decline and by age 50 we only have 15% of the stomach acid we had at age 25.
  3. More alarming is that 35% of us, over 65, produce no stomach acid at all.
  4. That could explains why calcium deficiencies is such a common health problem of older adults. Since stomach acid is essential for the proper calcium absorption. And Low calcium is directly related to bone density and therefore high levels of fractures in seniors. Think about that…
  5. Also over-the-counter (like the purple pill) relief for heartburn, may be making your health worse by reducing the levels of gastric (stomach) Acid to below normal levels of gastric acid (Hypochlorhydria), which is causing, improper vitamin absorption.
  6. The long term use of these products was shown to produce adverse side affects, such as low B12 which can cause brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, depression, muscle fatigue and tingling in the extremities and arthritis. 
  7. Many Mental and physical age related symptoms can be directly linked to low levels of  stomach acid or a Hypochlorhydria condition.


Here is the story of my discovery and ‘cure’ of Hypochlorhydria and why I Started this site. Senior Wellness Links.

How Does Low Stomach Acid (Hypochlorhydria) Affect Your Wellness

Or why I am HIGH on Acid (the HCl kind).

I Need You To Go Back In Time with me (early/mid 1990’s)

At about age 42, I experienced a kidney stone. I was told that this is the closest thing to child birth a man can experience. But men in their 40’s are not supposed to get kidney stones. Then 2 years later another kidney stone and Increasingly, every time I ate anything with a high protein or dairy content, I almost immediately had bloating and burping spells, within 6 to 12 later hours later, very bad pain in the lower gut. Sometimes so bad, I had to lay down in a fetal position until the pain literally ‘passed’ as in passing gas. Then the pain from the diarrhea cramps set in, oh what a fun time I had, NOT… I would do anything to avoid going through that, even going to the ER when it got so bad. Guess what they said would ‘cure’ the problem you guessed it, just stop eating the foods that caused it or go ‘vegan’ and it will pass they said. Now that is why doctors ‘practice medicine’.

Here is a short list of the possible problems I could have, based on the symptoms I was experiencing.

  1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder in which abdominal pain is associated with a range of symptoms. Typically, these include intermittent abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both. Yeah, that was me times 10.
  2. A possible H. pylori infection and associated increased amount of mucosa-associated bacteria, the bad kind.
  3. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) which is an excessive amount of aerobic and anaerobic microbes (yeast) that are normally present in the colon. Causing bloating, flatulence, abdominal discomfort, or diarrhea.
  4. Vitamin C deficiency and Vitamin B12 , a Calicum deficiency, although I had been taking a multi-vitamin, they were not being absorbed correctly or only partially.
  5. Weight loss or not gaining weight

I was literally eating myself to death and I would have, had I not been proactive in my search for relief of these symptoms.

How did I get my Health back into Balance and towards Wellness?

I began to go to the library to read and search online for anything that might help or give me a clue to what was wrong (remember this is 20-25 years ago, not much was ‘online’). Believe me, I tried everything, Detox, no GMO, Gluten Free, Green Grain, Food Supplements, ‘shade tree, free trade, ‘organic’ foods, even a no protein, low carb diet. Fasting helped, but I was already ‘under nourished’ and under weight and as I later learned, vitamin deficient. I talked to family, friends, work buddies anyone who would listen, they all gave advice but none worked and I still continued to get worse.

Digestion is an Autonomic Function, Oh My!

As I read on and studied more, I came across a medical term ‘autonomic’ or the body’s automatic functions, such as blinking, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, swallowing and digestion. Now because digestion is autonomic, we normally do not even think about the chemical and biological mechanisms that kick in right after we eat, we just go about our lives, so why worry, be happy, it will get better…. WRONG!

Now I am sure your thinking, as I was, digestion, what does stomach acid have to do with that, doesn’t it just cause ulcers and all kinds of heartburn and what I needed, as the commericals on TV claim, was the ‘purple pill’ it cures everthing, and I can eat whatever I want again.

Well yes, I want to be cured, but this made me think even more. I have NOT experience heartburn or any acid reflux symptoms in years, but, yes, sour stomach, though TUMS or gas relief pills did not do anything or even at times made it worse. I was also beginning to notice that any cuts scraps or bruises were not healing as they should and my energy level was almost non-existent. So something was out of balance in my digestive tract and NOT with the types, kinds or styles of foods I ate.

I happened to stumble across a medical journal online that talked about Hydrochloric Acid (HCL), stomach acid, as you and I would call it and the affect it has on the digestive system plus how it is related to the extraction of the vitamins, minerals and amino acids that our bodies needs to function properly and keep us healthy. All from the foods a normal healthy person eats, you know, that balanced diet or food pyramid, we were taught in school. On Further reading, I learned where and when stomach acid occurs or is produced in relation to the types of foods we eat.

What is Hydrochloric Acid (HCl)?

HCl is highly acidic and able to dissolve many of the foods we ingest. HCl also aids in fighting off infections by helping the immune system. HCl kills many pathogens and bactrial organisms that are present on foods we eat. If it wasn’t for a mucous membrane that protects the stomach lining, the HCl would digest the stomach, so any failure or damage to this lining causes petic ulcers.

How is it formed or were does it come from?

It is secreted by chemical reaction by the parietal cells of the stomach. Chewing our food reduces the size and with saliva starts digesting food. Since this is an autonomic process and the vagus nerve from your brain controls and regulates these hormonal secretions, gastrin and secretin, they stimulate the release of pepsinogen, which is mixed with HCl and rapidly converted to the enzyme pepsin. Pepsin mixes with HCl and as digestion progresses produces peptides which are later absorbed into the intestine and farther along the gastric acids are neutralized in the small intestine. The gastric fluids are further broken down by pancreatic enzymes and the released as nutrients which are absorbed into the intestine wall then into the bloodstream.

Out of Darkness (Ignorance) Comes the Light (Knowledge)

Boy did I get a “Light bulb moment” … What if you take HCl out of the process? You would be in a world of hurt. What if I have a LOW, or even a no HCL level and my digestive system was not processing the foods I eat? Short answer, YES.

A more detailed answer to my studies are outlined in another article I wrote “Why we need Stomach Acid”, but don’t go there yet!

How could I test my theory?

Since HCl is the key and during my reading I found the normal amount of HCI with a meal of 6 oz of protein to be around 2000mg. I could eat a meal that I knew would gave me problems and add about 1300mg of HCL. Which, as I had read, should cause a normal person to experience heartburn or a warm sensation in the area at the top of the stomach. But where do you get HCl and in what forms.  Back to the internet,now  remember, ‘health food’ stores were not as common as they are today. I discovered apple vinegar was a trigger for HCl production but was to hard to get the exact dosage correct and could burn your throat if not diluted . This was also the case with all forms of plant triggers. Then I found an online vitamin store that sold powdered HCl in a capsule, 650mg each, 250 count and 15 bucks, plus 5 bucks shipping and handling, I jumped on it and I could not wait to test my theory. Almost two weeks later, the package arrived, again there was no Amazon Prime, two day delivery, back then, snail mail was at its best.

To Test Or Not To Test, Is That Even A Question?

I fasted for 24 hours to make sure I did not have anything in my digestive system that would interfere with my tests. Fixed a 6 oz. steak, small salad, no dressing, small potato and a glass of red wine. Why is this important, you ask? Have you heard of the saying ‘Last meal before you die”. Hey if this test fails and I am only left with the option of going Vegan, THAT would be like dying to me. Actually I needed the steak to make sure I had the right amount protein in the mix, to react with the HCl, balanced with some carbs and the wine was, because I like wine! I took two 650mg capsules with water and ate the meal, I knew this meal would gave me major problems if the HCl did not work. I waited and worried, 2 hours went by, but I did not experience any of the major problems I ‘normally’ would have, but no warm or heartburn symptoms. That was both a HIGH and troubling at the same time.

Trust but Verify is my motto.

But I was not totally convinced, So I took two more tablets with a glass of water, now that should give me heartburn, right? Wrong, nothing seem to happen, even after about a half hour of waiting and laying down, nothing. So I took one more tablet, now that is a total of 2500mg of HCl and after about 5 minutes, heartburn and the warm in the stomach feeling. Now, that was first time I had felt heartburn in over five years. Also there was none of the bloating I would normally have with this kind of meal. I was in HIGH on HCl and the possibility, I could eat normal again.

Not so fast young patty-wan all is not well yet. (Star Wars lingo)

I was still having lower tract problems, flatulence and diarrhea. Back to the internet, what could have I missed in my studies. Again an AH HA moment, the low or missing HCl had reduced or eliminated the Probiotics in my gut. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, and are only found in our digestive system and that HCl is required to kill off the bad bacteria and bad yeasts which stops or slows down the absorption of nutrients and letting the undigested food literally rot in my gut, thus the diarrhea and the low vitamin deficiency. You know that cut and scraps not healing correctly thing I mentioned earlier.

When I looked at all of these possible problems that I could have, I seemed to have All of them.

But one thing seemed to be in common to all these.

I need to:

  1. Artificially increase HCL, Because the tests showed I either did not have any or it was very low.
  2. Boost levels of the good Probiotics, let the higher level of HCl burn out the bad stuff
  3. Resupplying the missing vitamins and minerals, to increase my immune system, start healing the cuts and scrapes.
  4. Building up the missing folic and amino acids, had to buy all that good for you stuff you read about.
  5. And not do it in such a way as to not shock my system because of the long period of improper balance. Wellness was my goal.

Forward On To Dawn (That is HALO Lingo for the gamer out there)

I kept it simple, started with nothing solid, but with high protein slushy mixes of the body/muscle powders, yogurt for the calcium and of course one or two HCl capsules and two capsules of mega Probiotics and a mega-multi-vitamins with each ‘meal’. After a week of that, I started introducing meats and a fiber capsule to the mix and started working toward normal meals. The best gauge of my ‘progress’ was how my digestive system responded. The first thing was the bloating and lower gut pain was gone in just days, (warning, this is a little gross) my BM was semi solid and did not stink like rotting garbage anymore.

Sorry for the mental picture here, but you much realize I had been ‘living’ with that bad picture for almost a year and as a warning to those of you who have or will get this problem if don’t do anything about your low stomach acid.

Finally, after about a month, I was eating regular gown-up, adult meals, as long as I took two capsules of HCl and a fiber capsule with each meal. I was back to the land of normal. I well on my way to wellness.

Back To The Future (yeah I know another SciFi flick) (to present day)

I am presently 68 and healthy for my age, or so the doctors say. I do not need blood pressure pills or cholesterol pills or any medications that the so called seniors my age have in their medicine cabinet. I eat whatever I want, in moderation, of course. I still have to take two to three capsules of HCl and a fiber pill or two each meal. I add a half of a senior multi-vitamin once a week and because of the cost and storage factors, I add a 12 fruit powder pill once or twice a day to get the ‘fruit’ in my diet thing.

I have tested myself many times to see if I could reduce or eliminate the HCl. But each time the GUT problems return almost immediately.

Am I in perfect health, No, I still have age related problems, I am 68, duh, my eyesight is getting worse, very minor cataracts, my hearing is going bad, tinnitus in both ears, I have all the major original teeth I need, minor aches and pain in places I did not used to get pain. Oh and I am semi-bald. And what hair I have is white. I was tested for cognitive function and was found to be normal for my age, so I am good for another 20-30 years.

I am NOT into fitness training, but I do walk about 10 to 15 miles a week, whenever I can and the weather permits. it only takes about an hour and a half to two hours every other day. It is low impact, saves feet, knees and hips and I think it keep me regular and also helps the lower back and keeps the weight down and the blood pumping (that cardio thing).

I do NOT do, Detox, Gluten Free, Green Grain, Strange Supplements, you know the ones you can’t pronounce or collated silver, except if it in the solid form with an eagle on it. Or eat any of those ‘shade tree, free trade, hand pick by ‘organic’ non GMO foods. Believe me I have tried them all, and I believe, I wasted a lot of money on all of them.. Eating healthy should not be complicated nor expensive.

The KISS principle is what I go by and apply it to the making of the articles and blog in senior wellness  links.

As this site matures I will be fleshing out my overarching beliefs and philosophy to what wellness for seniors or anyone for that matter, should look like, based on science, experience and common sense.

Please take a look a my other articles and posts on this website

Please leave a comment, pro/con, helpful hints, experiences you had or any questions you might have.

Keep well my friends and keep going towards senior wellness.