Discover more from Materia Medica
Are you digesting well?
Digestive discomfort...try this at-home test
Our stomach plays an essential role in digestion.
It breaks down food, assists in the absorption of nutrients and adds an immune barrier to protect from pathogens.
Stomach acid is required to properly digest proteins. If food is not digested properly it can stay in the digestive tract much longer and start to ferment.
This can lead to unpleasant digestive issues. So if you often experience gas, bloating, cramping or reflux after eating, it could indicate you have an insufficient levels of stomach acid (also known as hypochlorhydria).
However, stomach acid is also needed for the efficient absorption of important nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium and B12.
Individuals with low stomach acid can become deficient in these nutrients over time which can lead to a whole host of health conditions.
Other symptoms of low stomach acid could include:
Bloating, belching and flatulence within one to two hours after meals
Sensation of ‘fullness’ after eating
Undigested food in stool
Foul smelling stools
Chronic dysbiosis – candida, parasites, abnormal flora
Indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation
Multiple food allergies/sensitivities
Nausea after taking nutritional and herbal supplements
Weak, peeling and cracked fingernails
Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose
Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
B12 deficiency is related to dementia, depression, nervous system issues, muscle weakness and fatigue.
There is a simple test using baking soda that you can carry out at home which can help determine if you are not producing enough stomach acid. Whilst the test is not absolute, it can be a useful indicator.
The baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) solution reacts with the acid in the stomach to produce carbon dioxide.
HCl + NaHCO3 (baking soda) NaCl + H20 + CO2 (carbon dioxide gas).
The amount of gas produced depends upon the quantity of acid contained in the stomach.
Do this test when you have an empty stomach, but just before a normal meal:
Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a 250 ml glass of water (that's baking soda — sodium bicarbonate, not baking powder).
Drink it, noting the time on your watch or a clock.
Measure how much time passes before you burp.
If you haven't burped in five minutes, you can stop timing.
Less than 1 min: indicates higher levels of stomach acid
1-2 min: indicates normal acidity
2-3 min: low-normal acidity
3-5 min: low acidity
5 mins or not at all: probable low stomach acid
You can repeat this a few times to see if it changes based on stress, times of day etc..
If there is not enough stomach acid then start:
Chewing food- saliva produces enzymes that break down the food, increases satiety, saliva remineralises tooth enamel, has antimicrobial properties.
Chew each bite 30 times.
Mindful eating and gratitude
Get in the parasympathetic nervous system before eating - that rest and digest state-say grace and be grateful for your meal.
Then if you have managed all your stress then you may want to try some herbal bitters before eating, try the herb meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), apple cider vinegar, umeboshi plums and/or adding in enzymes such as bromelain and papain and betaine hydrochloride pills.
The betaine hydrochloride (HCl) will low the pH of the stomach to support digestion and absorption.
Increasing Stomach Acid:
Taking betaine HCl with pepsin with meals.
Protocol: 1 x 350mg capsule with a meal, increase amount of capsules each day until you feel burning sensation, drop down by 1 capsule and use that as dosage
(Don’t take more than 3-4 capsules even if you don’t feel a burning sensation!)
If you notice any improvements in your symptoms, continue to take betaine HCl.
If there is no improvement in your symptoms after two weeks, stop taking the supplement.
If you are really worried about stomach acid then the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test is the gold standard test for hypochlorhydria. It uses a small capsule with a radio transmitter is ingested to measure the pH of the stomach.
It is quite spenny though so start to see how you can support the stomach with some bitters maybe some betaine HCl, taking out stress and that could be the key to fixing your health!