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Digestive Problems Help

Part 1, Part 2


Digestion begins in the mouth

Digestion begins at the top. The taste receptors on the tongue signal the brain that food is arriving in the digestive system. The hypothalamus gland then responds and initiates the hormonal signal to begin production of all required enzymes and acids for the digestion of the food.

Proper chewing mixes the food with the saliva, signaling the brain to begin the digestive process. The first enzyme action begins with salivary amylase (ptyalin) which breaks down starch into less complex sugars.

Because most people do not chew their food enough to fully process the starch and carbohydrates, digestive problems begin in the mouth


The HCL Story

Up until the late 1920's and early 1930's hydrochloric acid (HCL) was prescribed for many symptoms and conditions. After that time the medical establishment discontinued its common use. We are now beginning to understand the impact HCL can have on a person's health. Numerous studies have shown that HCL secretion declines with advancing age.

Once the stomach senses food, it secretes the hormone gastrin into the blood. Gastrin affects digestion in two ways:

  • It stimulates the secretion of HCL
  • It causes contraction of the muscles responsible for stomach motility.

The gastric secretions in the stomach consist of protective mucus, pepsinogen, and HCl. Pepsin is the enzyme that digests food proteins.


The functions of HCL:

  • converts pepsinogen to pepsin, thus induces protein digestion
  • unlocks Vitamin B12 from animal protein
  • keeps the stomach sterile against orally-ingested pathogens (parasites, bacteria, virus)
  • prevents bacterial or fungal overgrowth of the small intestine
  • stimulates the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes
  • facilitates the absorption of a variety of nutrients.

HCL plays an important role in the total digestive picture.

Here are typical signs and symptoms that are associated with decreased gastric secretion of stomach acid (HCL):


HCL Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

soreness, burning, and dryness of the mouth

  • a low tolerance for dentures
  • heart burn
  • indigestion
  • excessive gas
  • bloating or distention after eating
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • hair loss in women
  • malaise
  • multiple food allergies
  • nausea
  • prolonged sense of fullness after eating

Other signs of reduced HCL secretion are

  • abnormal intestinal flora
  • chronic candidiasis
  • chronic intestinal parasites
  • dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose
  • swollen and inflamed tongue
  • iron deficiency
  • post-adolescent acne
  • undigested food in the stool
  • weak, peeling and cracked fingernails.

With lowered HCL the normal sequence of digestion and nutrient absorption is disrupted. HCL is required for the best absorption of folic acid, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

HCL supplements are especially important for the elderly who are not responding to nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals.

Conditions Related to HCL Deficiency

  • asthma
  • alcoholism
  • chronic skin conditions
  • depression
  • digestive disturbances
  • intestinal permeability
  • overgrowth by pathogenic bacteria or fungi
  • evidence of parasites

are all conditions which may indicate impaired ability to secrete adequate HCL and therefore may benefit from HCL supplementation.

Diseases related to the pancreas or gallbladder also may benefit from HCL supplementation as these organs indirectly require stomach HCL to function properly.



Heartburn is considered by most people to be caused by too much stomach acid (HCL). Often the opposite is the case. With deficient or absent HCL, food is not digested properly, it ferments and putrefies instead. Fermentation acids are extremely corrosive. Heartburn, bloating, gas, and indigestion follow.

We then reach for the antacids, such as Tums, Zantac, Tagamet, etc. They relieve the symptoms, but do not address the underlying cause. Antacids, by definition, interfere with normal digestion, because they neutralize any stomach acid. They further can cause stomach, gallbladder, and pancreas malfunction, and can lead to malnutrition. Osteoporosis is another possible side effect. Calcium is not easily utilized by the body in an alkaline environment which is created by Tums, and other antacids.

Possible side-effects associated with the use of Zantac and Tagamet, as described in the 1997 edition of the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) include:

  • severe headaches
  • confusion
  • depression
  • blurred vision
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • pancreatitis
  • hepatitis
  • rashes
  • hair loss

The clinical experience of many holistic practitioners has clearly shown that heartburn, indigestion, and a myriad of other symptoms can be remedied by the supplementation of HCL and digestive enzymes.

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© Copyright - Dr. Z - Peter Zeischegg , MS, DC, DACNB, 2013