Hydrochloric Acid (Trial)

In order to confirm whether hydrochloric acid (HCl) is needed, the HCL trial is used to assess stomach digestive function by evaluating the integrity of the stomach lining and its mucous barrier. There is a correlation between a strong barrier and a strong digestive function (i.e. acid and enzyme production).

HCL capsules are taken in increasing doses with substantial meals until symptoms of excess manifest. A typical program would be:

  • Meal 1: Take 1 capsule (8-10 grains – 500-700mg) at the beginning of complex meals (i.e. with protein, but not if you eat only fruit, a light salad or a simple bowl of cereal). When taking several capsules, it is best if they are taken throughout the meal (beginning, middle, end).
  • Meal 2: Take 2 capsules at the beginning of your meal.
  • Meal 3: Take 3 capsules at the beginning of your meal.
  • Meal 4: Take 4 capsules with your meal; meal 5 (take 5 capsules) and so on, up to 8-12 capsules per meal. For those who would like more rapid results, you could increase the dose by two capsules each meal instead of one.

When and if irritation (heartburn, stomach ache, heaviness, nausea) occurs, you may take an antacid (i.e. Turns, Alka-seltzer Gold, or baking soda and water at 1/2 tsp. per cup) to neutralize the excess acidity if you desire. Resume taking the acid capsules at a dose of 1-2 capsules less per meal than the number that caused symptoms. You may take even less with smaller or lighter meals. If symptoms of poor digestion are reduced or disappear during the trial it indicates the need for HCL supplementation.

Individuals with very moderate HCL deficiency generally show rapid improvement in symptoms and early signs of intolerance to the acid. This typically indicates a return to normal acid production. Supplementation levels are reduced accordingly, even to the point of no longer requiring the supplement. If maldigestion symptoms return, supplementation can be restarted. Individuals with low HCL/Pepsin may not respond as well to botanicals and supplements, so to maximize benefits, it is important to continue HCL supplementation.

Administration of HCL/Pepsin is contra-indicated in peptic ulcer disease. Capsules should be swallowed whole, not emptied into food or water. It’s important to note that hydrochloric acid should not be used at the same time as aspirin, Butazolidin, Inodicin, Motrin, or any other anti-inflammatory medication.


Hydrochloric Acid (Trial) can help with the following


Allergy / Intolerance to Foods (Hidden)

It is estimated that 80% of patients with food allergies suffer from some degree of impairment of hydrochloric acid secretion. This can range from the complete absence of hydrochloric acid (achlorhydria) to a deficiency in the amount of hydrochloric acid secreted (hypochlorhydria). The passage of acidic stomach contents into the small intestine stimulates the pancreas to release digestive enzymes and bicarbonate, critical for continuing the digestive process. [Dr. Braly’s Food Allergy and Nutrition Revolution, by James Braly, M.D.]


Ulcerative Colitis

It has been suggested that as many as 80% of those with UC have low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria).



Some doctors report that 50% of patients with autoimmune disease are also hypochlorhydric.



Chronic Thyroiditis

Some doctors report that 50% of patients with autoimmune disease are also hypochlorhydric (have low stomach acid).


Autoimmune Tendency

Clinicians report that 50% of patients with autoimmune disease are also hypochlorhydric (have low stomach acid).


Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis) / Risk

Stomach acid levels are generally lower in patients with autoimmune diseases. Inadequate digestion can add to the immune system malfunction.


Myasthenia Gravis

Stomach acid levels are generally lower in patients with autoimmune diseases. Inadequate digestion can add to the immune system malfunction.






Heartburn / GERD

Caution should be advised regarding the use of HCL in heartburn patients. It can be supplemented on a trial basis after acute symptoms are resolved and if the stomach lining is not inflammed. Contrary to what seems logical, heartburn can be an indication of not enough stomach acid.




An older study showed that 80% of children with asthma had gastric acid secretions below normal levels.



Gastric analysis of rosacea patients has led to the theory that it may be the result of hypochlorhydria. HCL supplementation results in marked improvement in rosacea patients who have achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria.



If improvement isn’t clear when using zinc or essential fatty acids, consider HCl and pancreatic enzymes. The pancreas manufactures picolinate, which is used in zinc absorption. A Dr. Bray, MD, as well as linking asthma to a high rate of HCl deficiency, found that in severe eczema 50% of subjects were hypochlorhydric. Most cases are not this severe, but the possibility of HCl deficiency should be checked.



Lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach has been linked to chronic hives probably as a result of increasing the likelihood of developing food allergies. In one study of 77 patients with chronic hives, 24 (31%) were diagnosed as having achlorhydria, and 41 (53%) were shown to be hypochlorhydric. [Rev Gastroenterol 1951;18: pp.267-71]


May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended


Hydrochloric Acid

(HCl): An inorganic acidic compound, excreted by the stomach, that aids in digestion.


A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.


Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.


(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.


Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.


Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.


Neutralizes acid in the stomach, esophagus, or first part of the duodenum.


(tsp) Equivalent to 5cc (5ml).

Peptic Ulcer

A general term for gastric ulcers (stomach) and duodenal ulcers (duodenum), open sores in the stomach or duodenum caused by digestive juices and stomach acid. Most ulcers are no larger than a pencil eraser, but they can cause tremendous discomfort and pain. They occur most frequently in the 60 to 70 age group, and slightly more often in men than in women. Doctors now know that there are two major causes of ulcers: most often patients are infected with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori); others are regular users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which include common products like aspirin and ibuprofen.


Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.

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