Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook
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Hypochlorhydria is a condition of the stomach in which the amount of digestive
juices (hydrochloric acid) is reduced. This can lead to poor digestion of
proteins, as well as other gastrointestinal disturbances. If untreated,
chronic hypochlorhydria can lead to Helicobacter pylori
malnutrition, and possibly autoimmune diseases.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms often occur 30 minutes to an hour after eating a meal containing
protein, and may include:
- Gas, bloating, and belching.
- Feeling that food is sitting in the stomach like a rock.
- Heartburn (may also be caused by hyperchlorhydria).
Other signs and symptoms may be noticed over a longer period of time, including:
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Adult acne (rosacea), dilated blood vessels in the nose and cheeks.
- Signs of protein malnutrition: hair loss and weak nails, muscle weakness.
- Anemia (iron or vitamin B-12 deficiency).
- Bad breath due to putrefacation of poorly digested protein.
- Production of gastric juices normally declines with age.
- Drug-induced: proton pump inhibitors, histamine-2 receptor blockers,
NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen), acetaminophen, oral contraceptives.
- Chronic stress-induced sympathetic nervous state.
- Excessive carbohydrates (sugars) in diet.
- Inadequate protein in diet to stimulate production of stomach acid.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Zn, thiamine.
- Menopause: low estrogen levels.
- Autoimmune disease (pernicious anemia).
- Hypothyroid conditions [Kharrazian2010, pg 6].
- It is important to distinguish hyperchlorhydria from hypochlorhydria,
as they can both produce the symptom of heartburn,
but the treatments are opposite.
- Heart attack (heart-burn and feeling of oppression).
- Chronic atrophic gastritis.
- Poor absorption of mineral nutrients (Ca, Fe).
- Poor absorption of proteins.
- Decreased immune function (HCl kills many bacteria), leading to
increased susceptibility to Helicobacter pylori and gut dysbiosis.
- Increased risk of food sensitivities, possibly provoking autoimmune
Adequate levels of stomach acid are required to close both the esophageal
and pyloric sphincters. If the esophageal sphincter does not close tightly,
gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) may occur as gastric juices pass up the
throat. If the pyloric sphincter does not close tightly, basic digestive
juices from the duodenum may pass up into the stomach, irritating the
Acidic solution is required to absorb minerals such as iron and calcium.
Chronic hypochlorhydria may result in inadequate absorption of these important
Acid from the stomach is needed to stimulate the release of pancreatic
digestive fluids into the duodenum. Insufficient acid may result in
pancreatic deficiency as well.
Acid in stomach forms a physical barrier to many bacteria, including
Helicobacter pylori. Inadequate stomach acid predisposes
the patient to a variety of gastrointestinal infections and dysbiosis.
Hydrochloric acid is generated by the same cells in the stomach that
release "intrinsic factor", which is required for the absorption of
vitamin B-12 in the intestine. Reduced HCl production leads to a
concomitant reduction in intrinsic factor, which can lead to anemia.
|537.9||Unspecified stomach disorder|| |
Unless specifically noted above, references used in the construction of this web
page include the following:
Lecture notes from Functional Medicine University.
Lecture notes from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Lecture notes from the University of Tennessee graduate programs in
Chemistry and Biochemistry.
[Kharrazian2010]. Kharrazian D.
Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?
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