• Dr. Corina Kibsey

Think acid reflux means you have too much stomach acid? Think again.



If you have stomach acid splashing up into your esophagus, you may think that you have too much stomach acid. But that may not necessarily be true. The problem could actually be the exact opposite: not enough stomach acid. Let’s talk about acid reflux and both of these situations.


Too much stomach acid


If you have too much stomach acid, this is what we call hyperchlorhydria. This is the type of acid reflux that you have when your stomach is so full of acid that it splashes up into the esophagus. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure you avoid acidic foods, such as:

· Spicy foods

· Tomatoes

· Dairy products

· Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)

· Grapes

· Cucumber

· Carbonated beverages

· Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate)


Not enough stomach acid


If you don’t have enough stomach acid, this is what we call hypochlorhydria. So how can low stomach acid cause acid to splash up into the esophagus? Well, there is a valve between your stomach and your esophagus. This is called the gastroesophageal sphincter.


Once your stomach has produced enough acid, this is a signal for the sphincter to close. If you don’t have enough stomach acid, then it can stay open. This is how acid then splashes up into your esophagus, causing symptoms of acid reflux.


If you have hypochlorhydria, ask your naturopath about solutions such as apple cider vinegar or digestive bitters.


How do I know if I have enough stomach acid or not?


There is something called the hydrochloric acid challenge that helps to determine whether your acid reflux is being caused by low stomach acid or high stomach acid. Here’s how it works:

· Day 1: Take 1 betaine pill just before your biggest meal of the day. If you don’t feel a sensation of acid splashing up into your esophagus, then move onto day 2.

· Day 2: Take 2 betaine pills just before your biggest meal of the day. If you don’t feel a sensation of acid splashing up into your esophagus, then move onto day 3.

· Day 3: Take 3 betaine pills just before your biggest meal of the day. If you don’t feel a sensation of acid splashing up into your esophagus, then move onto day 4.

· Day 4: Take 4 betaine pills just before your biggest meal of the day. If you don’t feel a sensation of acid splashing up into your esophagus, then move onto day 5.

· Day 5: Take 5 betaine pills just before your biggest meal of the day. If you don’t feel a sensation of acid splashing up into your esophagus, then move onto day 6.

· Day 6: Take 6 betaine pills just before your biggest meal of the day.


If you felt the acid splashing sensation on day one, then that means that you have high stomach acid, or hyperchlorhydria.


If you felt the acid splashing sensation on days 2-6, then this means that you have low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria. If you still didn’t feel anything on day 6, then we can stop the experiment knowing that you have very low stomach acid.


I want to emphasize how important it is to not do this experiment on your own. Taking a bunch of acid pills without the guidance of a health care provider is never a good idea. If you want to determine whether you have high or low stomach acid and what to do about it, hit “contact” at the top of this page and book your appointment with Dr. Corina today.


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