The following links are to posts when I've answered questions through email.  

Q&A from November 22, 2013 Email
This is about supplementation with Betaine HCL and I offer some suggestions for using mastic gum and eating fermented foods.


  1. Hi,

    Thanks so much for the information on this site!

    I suspect hypochlorhydria as the cause of digestive issues I have had for over 6 years now - pretty much just bloating and gas, instantly after eating 90% of foods. I did a Gastro String Test recently which showed that the pH of my stomach was neutral, even after stimulation with a protein meal.

    I might add that my stomach problems began after I developed an eating disorder and alcohol problem, so it makes sense that something happened to my acid levels as a result of that behaviour.

    I tried to supplement with Betaine HCL & Pepsin, however it makes me bloat unbearably (and instantly)! I've tried two different brands, and in doses ranging from 1 x 320mg capsule to 9 x 620mg capsules. The more I have, the more I bloat. There is no burning sensation, and I'm definitely not allergic to any of the ingredients. Have you ever heard of Betaine having this effect?

    One more thing: I seem to avoid gassiness if I eat only refined foods the whole day, e.g. white bread, rice, eggs. As soon as I eat ANYTHING with even a bit of fibre, the problems commence. Do you know if this is consistent with hypochlorhydria?

    I sure hope to solve the problem, as I refuse to live on refined food forever. Plus, it makes me constipated!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story :)

    1. You are welcome, Natasha! As I read your symptoms, some different possibilities come to mind.

      I don't know anything about the Gastro String Test. And I don't know if your stomach pH showing neutral during the test means that you are not producing enough acid. I say that because I came across this: "Salivary amylase initiates digestion in the mouth and may account for a significant portion of starch and glycogen digestion because it is transported with the meal into the stomach and small intestine, where it continues to have activity. Optimal enzyme activity occurs at neutral pH. During a meal, gastric pH can approach neutrality despite gastric acid secretion because of the buffering from molecules in the meal as well as alkaline secretions from the salivary glands and gastric mucus. Salivary amylase can contribute up to 50% of starch and glycogen digestion while pancreatic amylase contributes the remainder." (from

      I have not experienced or read about the Betaine causing bloating. I wonder if you are sensitive to the Pepsin or if you have some other things going on in your digestion besides low acid? Are you taking the Betaine during your meal time and with proteins? You may find the following two articles helpful regarding the topic of supplementing with Betaine:

      You said that eating refined foods prevents the gassiness. That reminds me of when I was told I had Gastroparesis (slow digestion and emptying of the stomach) and the doctor advised me to only eat refined foods and to avoid fiber. I refused to do that. I continue to eat whole grains and fresh fruits. I’m careful with raw veggies. They are hard for me.

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    3. Natasha, (I had to continue my reply in another comment box)

      It sounds like your digestive system needs more help and healing than just Betaine supplementation. Some things I recommend you can research and consider:

      --find out about Gastroparesis symptoms and see if yours match up.

      --get tested for Celiac disease or Candida yeast overgrowth.

      --get tested for low stomach acid or leaky gut. I just read in the What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You magazine that a lab called Genova Diagnostics does this kind of testing. I have no personal experience with them, though.

      --research “leaky gut” on the internet. If the walls of your intestinal tract are allowing large food molecules through, it will affect your food absorption and cause adverse reactions in your body.

      --read about GAPS diet – Gut and Psychology Syndrome – it is a special and strict diet protocol to heal the gut and has proven very successful for many people. It is the SCD diet taken a step up.

      --supplement with probiotics like Garden of Life Primal Defense and/or digestive enzymes like Garden of Life QZyme.

      --avoid eating out or eating processed foods and cook for yourself fresh foods with wholesome ingredients and preferably as much organic as possible. Eat wholesome oils like unrefined coconut oil. Avoid corn and canola oils and avoid all soy products unless it is *fermented* soy called Natto.

      --eat and drink fermented foods to help aid your digestion. Try Kombucha, water or milk kefir, and sauerkraut. Kombucha and sauerkraut have helped my digestion immensely. So much so, that I stopped buying the products and make them myself.

      --do an “elimination diet” to see if it helps you understand even better what you are having problems with. Look up “how to do elimination diet” on the internet.

      --check this link out on information about some healing diets:

      --look into Jordan Rubin’s book The Maker’s Diet

      --look into seeing a naturopath doctor in your area to get more specific help tailored to your exact symptoms and needs

      --keep researching the internet and books for holistic/alternative/natural ways to help the digestive system and your specific symptoms

      Natasha, I hope some of this information is helpful to you. I am sharing these ideas and suggestions from personal experience and research; I am not a doctor. I know how hard it is to live with digestive struggles. But there is hope to improve and lots of help to be found out there! Don’t give up researching and trying. Please feel free to ask me more questions, if you want to.


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