HCL Challenge

Betaine HCL Challenge

by Faith Christensen, ND


The stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCL) as one of the initial stages of digestion. If there is not enough stomach acid the cascade of enzymes and further digestion is limited causing nausea, heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue after meals, feeling like food sits in your stomach for a long period of time or stomach pain. Decreased stomach acid can be caused by physical or emotional stress, infections, and poor eating habits such as not chewing your food or eating on the run. By supplementing with HCL the body is able to digest better and the stomach will begin to produce larger amounts of stomach acid. Eventually your body will not need as much support anymore. You will begin to notice that you need less and less capsules until you reach a maintenance level or not need any to digest your food properly.


The purpose of challenging your system with how much HCL it needs is to understand how much or how little stomach acid your body actually produces. During the challenge, you should stop adding capsules once you feel a slight burning discomfort in your stomach. For example, on day three you increase to three capsules a day you notice some discomfort. Try three capsules one more time that day unless you noticed severe discomfort. If the second dose causes discomfort, then you should stay with two capsules with meals. If after a few weeks to months on two capsules with meals, you notice discomfort decrease to one capsule a day. This indicates that your stomach is producing more stomach acid on its own and needs less support.

Day 1: Start with one capsule with meals taken after the first few bites of food. Do not take with light snacks.

Day 2: Take two capsules with meals.

Day 3: Take three capsules with meals.

Day 4: Take four capsules with meals.

Day 5: Take five capsules with meals.

Day 6: Take six capsules with meals.

Continue in same manner until feeling of discomfort even if its 8-10 with each meal.

The only contraindication for doing this challenge is an active stomach ulcer or if you are on any antiacid medication.

Springs Natural Medicine offers comprehensive digestive testing and natural solutions for all types of digestive conditions. Phone consultations are also available. Contact Springs Natural Medicine today!