Too Much Acid Or Too Little?
Many people with gallbladder disease also report suffering from chronic heartburn. In fact, heartburn is often one of the first symptoms that may appear as an indication that your digestive system is falling out of balance. Gallbladder symptoms can be similar to those of acid reflux - but are you overproducing stomach acids, or under-producing them?
Heartburn could be a symptom of too little stomach acid rather than too much.
That may sound insane but here's the thing. Lack of hydrochloric acid is much more common than making too much. So why does it burn? It sure feels like acid. Right? Well, it is. It's just an acid produced by food rotting in the stomach due to lack of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. It's a bi-product of putrefaction.
The normal chain of events is for the food to leave the stomach and flow downward into the small intestine. But the intestine isn't designed to cope with food in an undigested or putrefying state, so it stays where it is and ends up moving in the other direction instead -- up the stomach and into the esophagus.
Too much stomach acid? Really? I mean, how is it that millions of people on PPIs are making too much HCl? Hyperchlorhydria or too much stomach acid is rather rare. If you're overeating, eating junk food or other food that is hard to digest, eating when stressed, living under stress, chances are much greater that you don't make enough hydrochloric acid or digestive enzymes and your symptoms stem from that.
Take a look at some of the symptoms caused by low stomach acid –
Signs of Deficient Stomach Acid
- Gas, bloating and burping shortly after a meal
- Feeling of fullness or food not digesting
- Heartburn and/or gastric reflux (sometimes too much HCl but most often not enough)
- Bad breath
- Foul smelling stools
- Loose stools in the early morning
- Food allergies
- Dialated blood vessels on the cheeks and nose - Rosacea
- Pernicious anemia or iron deficiency
- Anal Itching
- Nausea especially after taking vitamins and minerals
- Weak or cracked nails
- Parasites - or at least increased susceptibility to parasitic infections
- Chronic yeast infections
- Acne in adults - especially if you have other symptoms from the list
Since low levels of stomach acid result in poor absorption of nutrients, many symptoms that accompany a deficiency of that vitamin or mineral makes this list much longer. The nutrients most affected are calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin K and many B vitamins.
If you're nervous about trying supplemental hydrochloric acid, you can do a trial with 1-2 TBSP of organic apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water after a meal. If it makes you feel better and does not hurt, you most likely would benefit from taking 300 - 500 mg of Betaine HCl with your meals. Start slowly and work up to this.
If you are afraid of HCl, you can take a dropperful of Gallbladder Bitters with your meals which stimulates digestive juices including both HCl and bile. To curb sugar cravings, take the bitters after your meal as well.
H. pylori Symptoms
If HCl does not take care of the acid symptoms, you might have a Heliobacter pylori infection. Gnawing or burning symptoms can be indicative of this. This discomfort tends to be located centrally, just below the rib cage. Other specific symptoms include burping, gas or flatulence, bloating, nausea and even vomiting.
Even if you were tested for H. pylori recently, it is possible to pick it up again when you go out to eat. Also, if anyone else in your family has it, you can keep passing it back and forth. So yes, H. pylori is contagious. Your family member may be asymptomatic, but still have it. All members of the family need to be treated when one person is diagnosed with an H. pylori infection – pets, too.
H. pylori is found in half the adults in developed countries and up to 90% in underdeveloped countries, making it is very common. The best tests for the H. pylori bacteria are a stool and breath test. The stool test registers H. pylori in the intestines, while the breath test measures H. pylori in the stomach.
H. pylori Treatment
Medical treatment for Helicobacter pylori is antibiotics. And to help to support the lining of the stomach and intestines while on antibiotics, Zinc-Carnosine may be useful.
Chances are, if you have had chronic acid problems, and particularly if they do not respond to acid blockers or to Betaine HCl, H. Pylori is likely the culprit. In your case, you do not even need to bother with the HCl at this time; get on Zinc-Carnosine Complex with PepZin GI - 120 ct for at least a month. To visit our blog post on Zinc-Carnosine, click here.
If you still have acid symptoms, continue for one more month. And for any discomfort, use Gallbladder Bitters, 1-2 droppers after each meal which may stop the discomfort without stopping digestion until you are symptom-free. Then you can start on HCl, using only one capsule and taking it mid-meal. I recommend anyone with diagnosed gastritis following this protocol for 1-2 months before attempting HCl.
If you have any of the following symptoms, know that they are often accompanied by, or the cause, of low stomach acid. And be aware that gluten is a common cause of heartburn and GERD. If you follow our gallbladder diet and cut out the gluten, you may notice a dramatic drop in your heartburn symptoms.
Risk Factors And Causes Of Low Stomach Acid
- Adrenal fatigue
- Atrophic gastritis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Candida & Other Yeast
- Bacterial Dysbiosis or infections in the gut
- Adult acne
- Alchohol consumption
- H. pylori infection
- Stress, even in children
- HCl production decreases with age
Diseases Associated With Low Stomach Acid
- Acne rosacea
- Dry Skin
- Gallbladder disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Lupus erythematosus
- Myasthenia gravis
- Pernicious anemia
- Celiac disease
- Sjogren's Syndrome
Interestingly, even though one with low stomach acid might experience indigestion just after a meal, later on you could experience a feeling of too much acidity and wake in the night from this as well. This overproduction of acid later on can still be associated with low stomach acid. Try supplemental HCl for a few days and watch to see if these symptoms subside. They should decrease gradually.
How To Increase Your Own HCl
Bitter greens like kale, collards, beet greens, arugula, etc. may help to encourage the release of your own stomach acid. Lemon, olive oil and ginger help as well. Try adding some ginger to The Beet Recipe, but only if you are in maintenance mode with your gallbladder and no longer in discomfort of any kind. Spicy ginger could upset the balance if you haven't been symptom-free for at least a couple of months.
Zinc and Thiamine B1 are necessary components in the manufacturing of stomach acid. Beet greens contain both. So does nutritional yeast. Food sources of zinc include collard, chard, pumpkins seeds, figs and wild salmon. Thiamine B1 is found in brown rice, spinach and peas.
Bile Reflux vs. Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid refluxes upwards through the esophageal sphincter (muscle) into the esophagus. Bile reflux is when the bile refluxes upwards from the duodenal portion of the small intestine through the pyloric sphincter into the stomach. The symptoms of bile reflux are similar to the burning pain associated with heartburn but also may include nausea and vomiting of bile.
Causes Of Bile Reflux
Bile reflux can be caused by gallbladder surgery but is more often a result of gastric surgery. The pyloric valve can also be obstructed by scar tissue or by an ulcer.
Natural Support Of Bile Reflux – Two Methods
The first method is to take 2-4 capsules of something that can bind and hold onto the excess bile such as Medi-Clay-FX. Take this symptomatically. Some people have occasional bouts with bile reflux; others experience it on an ongoing basis. If the latter is the case, try this dosage with each meal and again before bed until you feel relief.
This second method is actually an old folk remedy, but a new treatment to most. Mix one packet of baker's yeast into a glass of warm water and drink on an empty stomach. This should alkalize the acidity and coat the stomach. Try it first thing in the morning and wait an hour before eating. If you take one after meals, wait 2 hours. Never mix with fruit or vegetable juice as it will ferment. You can take several packets daily if needed. This is worth a try for anyone. Baker's yeast contains many B vitamins which help to detoxify the liver and baker's yeast does not contribute to candida. It may, in fact, kill it.
I recommend you to see your doctor. If you have already done that and would like to speak with one of our consultants, please call 760-515-2338 to make an appointment. You can also find more details on our consultations page.
Please be advised that our consultations in no way replace a medical examination or the testing procedures you would receive from your medical doctor. However, I'm sure you will find our knowledge, experience and recommendations helpful.