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Hypochlorhydria is a condition of stomach sub-acidity, where there's not enough gastric acid  (HCL) produced in the stomach. This is a very common problem that doesn't always get enough attention.

Many people think that phenomena such as heartburn and GERD  are caused by excess acidity in the stomach, but it's not always the case. Often the cause is completely the opposite– gastric acid deficiency.

Image by Mehrpouya H

What Gastric acid is?

Gastric acid is produced in the stomach and used for the initial digestion and decomposition of our food and for its preparation for later decomposition in the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Gastric acid is such a strong acidic component, that if it comes in contact with the skin, it will burn it. Besides digesting food, the acid is also used to break down proteins and helps absorb minerals and vitamins such as calcium magnesium iron and B12.

Heartburn from Hypochlorhydria

Many times symptoms like heartburn, reflux or explicit stomach pain are incorrectly diagnosed as excess acidity in the stomach, but on many occasions, the condition is completely reversed.

Treatment with anti-acid pills in such a situation is incorrect and will lead to a worsening of the problem.

So why is there a feeling of heartburn during Hypochlorhydria? 

When the stomach does not secrete enough acid, it has difficulty emptying the food that is inside it, and recently ingested food will not be digested properly and will struggle to pass to the duodenum. 

Ingested residues of food remain in the stomach and begin a process of fermentation. Also, part of those remains go back up the esophagus tube.

The food that returns back up is soaked in little acidity and therefore causes the feeling of heartburn. As I mentioned, this burning feeling is often misinterpreted as over-acidity. But it actually results from insufficient gastric acid.

Image by Irina Shishkina

Main causes for Hypochlorhydria

  • Acid production decreases with age, which is why many elderly people experience a lack of appetite and a feeling of fullness after food. 

  • A poor diet rich in spicy, acidic, and processed foods.

  • Stress- can increase or reduce acid levels in the stomach.

  • Deficiency of magnesium and zinc minerals which are taking part in the gastric acid production process.

  • Chlorine and fluorine in our drinking water damage gastric acid production.

  • Chronic use of anti-acid medications, such as H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)- Omeprazole, Tums, Nexium, etc. 

  • High levels of the helicobacter pylori bacterium changes the acidic environment in the stomach by creating ammonia.

  • Helicobacter pylori infection creates a basic area around it to protect itself from stomach acidity.

Symptoms of Hypochlorhydria

  • Heartburn, gas and bloated stomach, and great fatigue experienced after ingesting food.

  • Irregular stool.

  • Indigested food in stool.

  • Fatty stools. 

  • Lack of appetite.

  • Gastrointestinal infections. 

  • Nutritional deficiencies of vitamins and minerals such as  calcium iron and B12 

  • Weak or cracked nails due to poor absorption of minerals.

Complications of Hypochlorhydria

Hypochlorhydria that is not treated over time can lead to shortages of significant nutrients that can manifest themselves in fatigue and depression and even lead to Osteoporosis crisps bone as a result of poor absorption of calcium and magnesium. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, stomach acid serves as the second line of defense after saliva against bacteria and external infections entering our body through our food. Insufficient amount of acid in the stomach causes the growth of harmful bacteria throughout the digestive tube that may lead to helicobacter pylori and/or Sibbo outbreaks as well as complications such as inflammation intestinal permeability leaks allergies and even chronic inflammations in other places in the body that are allegedly unrelated to the gastrointestinal tract. Autoimmune  diseases such as lupus arthritis have been blamed as well as skin problems such as Acne eczema and Psoriasis may also develop as a result of a neglected, longstanding sub-acidity in the stomach.

There are several ways to increase stomach acidity naturally. 

Drinking apple juice vinegar on an empty stomach

Mixing 1-2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar that is not filtered in a glass of water and drinking it before meals. 

Health Shake

increating  foods that help to increase stomach acidity

such as juice and  lemon citrus fruits fermented foods such as pickle vegetables tomatoes and eggplant legumes.


Eating small meals

at small intervals every two or three hours

alongwith prolonged chewing of food.


Consuming zinc-rich foods

such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower. Zinc is an essential mineral that participates in the formation of gastric acid.


Natural ways to treat stomach acidity

Natural treatment

The natural approach to treating hypochlorhydria focuses on adjusting an easy-to-digest diet.  As part of the rehabilitation process, I always incorporate various herbs and nutritional supplements that help balance the acidity of the stomach as well as the friendly bacteria population inside the intestine and help heal the mucosal tissues of the stomach. These are usually bitter herbs that also inseminate the bile juices.

Studies that were done on hypochlorhydria reinforce the above-mentioned information and emphasize the importance of consuming plant foods containing dietary fiber (such as vegetables, fruits, and whole foods) along with the avoidance of low-fiber and processed foods. Studies also show that regular exercise and maintaining proper body weight significantly reduce the risk of hypochlorhydria and its complications.

​It is important to note that a combination of a correct and balanced lifestyle alongside a natural diet rich in vegetables fruits and proteins that provides all the essential vitamins and minerals is the best way to maintain a healthy and balanced stomach acidity and digestive health in general.

Collection of Herbs
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