Utilizing Betaine HCl in Your Practice
By Danielle Huntsman, MS CNS LDN
The benefits of stomach acid are well known; hydrochloric acid plays an essential role in absorbing minerals (potassium, iron, vitamin B12, and calcium, to name a few) and is responsible for activating key enzymes. Gastrin, a hormone produced by the stomach (G cells), stimulates the release of gastric acid. Hydrochloric acid is responsible for maintaining a healthy pH of the stomach, ranging between 1.5-2.5. The pH of the stomach is critical for the digestion of nutrients; stomach acidity also kills unwanted bacteria and viruses.
While stomach acid is needed for overall digestion, gastric acid secretion must be finely regulated; too much or too little acid production can affect over 25% of the population on a weekly basis. Many turn to conventional therapies which suppress acid production and often lead to just short-term relief. When stomach acid is suppressed long-term due to an acid blocker or stress, the breakdown of food is compromised. Interestingly, studies have shown cortisol production blunts the secretion of gastric acid. Yet another reason to focus on stress relief and have a relaxation practice in place.
Often we hear from patients that they have previously tried betaine HCl with little luck or it exacerbated symptoms and therefore stopped taking it. Typically this is because of one of two reasons they completed a high-dose “challenge” of betaine HCI, or they didn’t support the epithelium lining of the stomach.
The stomach mucosal lining is cell thick, with the wall consisting of four different layers of tissue. These layers protect the stomach against hydrochloric acid. Herbs such as olive leaves and prickle pear cladodes have protective effects on the stomach lining.  Mucosave™ FG has shown statistical significance in controlling symptoms associated with occasional GER.*
In summary, symptoms of indigestion (including the occasional heartburn) are often mistaken for too much acid production. When we add in therapies that suppress or block stomach acid production, we only compromise digestion even further. When supporting stomach acid, every practitioner has their unique methods and protocol. Each patient is individual and can metabolize and process Betaine HCI differently. Correcting stomach pH with a healthy diet is the first step; adding in Betaine HCI can be a great way to support the natural production of stomach acid. When combined with mucosal supportive herbs, betaine HCl supplementation can be a staple in any digestion protocol.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.