I'm on a very high betaine HCL dose but still having issues, should I keep increasing?

Answered on December 10, 2014
Created May 22, 2013 at 11:24 PM


My question is basically that I feel I might be on an absurdly high betaine HCL dose (as high as 10 grams HCL per meal). However every time I up the dose I feel better and I have no symptoms of too much stomach acid and sort of want to increase it even more. Another reason I don't think I'm taking too much stomach acid is I feel cravings for whole lemons.

I have been on a strict paleo diet for a little over 30 days now. I also started taking betaine HCL with pepsin about 5 days ago (600 mg capsules made by Solaray).

I am having terrible digestion problems, especially after I eat a high fat meal so I suspect it's an issue with fat digestion. I am so fatigued after meals that for several hours I am fatigued to the point I'm not even safe to drive. Then the symptoms get better and my mind sort of "turns on," and I get incredible energy and feel euphoric until my next meal.

The digestive symptoms I get after high fat meals include gas, bloating, nausea and constipation. I read in the GAPS book that digesting fat requires the enzyme lipase and that taking HCL will stimulate your body's production of lipase. I also read in several sources that you should get a warm feeling in your chest when you've taken one too many HCL capsules.

I have gradually been upping my dose every meal and today I took about 10 grams of HCL and usually get no warm feeling, heartburn or any other symptoms of too much stomach acid as far I can tell. The one time I got the warm feeling was when I had a small meal of mostly just protein, very little fat and about 7 grams of HCL.

I stay very strict paleo, grass fed meat, grass fed ghee, vegetables, occasional fruit, 100% dark chocolate and wild caught fish for the most part. Also I take probiotics (from Jarrow) and am at around 20 billions CFUs per day.

Another symptom of mine that I feel could be related these same digestion problems is a reduced appetite. Even on workout days where I would expect to need 3500 - 4500 calories I struggle to get to around 2200 calories.

Also I'm low carb if that's relevant. Thank you so much for your help.


on June 18, 2013
at 03:44 AM

To update this post, I started eating a packet of gelatin with each meal. In one day I was able to take my HCL dose down from 25 pills to 5 pills and a week later I'm down to 3-4 pills for most meals. It was pretty amazing to me. I used the Knox brand unflavored gelatin which I bought from whole foods. Bone broth seems like it would be better and more 'Paleo' but I think the gelatin powder was still pretty effective. Thanks



on May 23, 2013
at 09:51 AM

Find some 'food' you can eat. 10 grams of some crystalline lab chemical with your lunch doesn't sound very paleolithic. Maybe more spinach, beats, and quinoa.



on May 23, 2013
at 04:32 AM

no; i'm not sure it's safe at high doses

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2 Answers



on December 10, 2014
at 11:43 AM

Issues with digesting fat require oxbile (or at least lipase) and while Betaine HCL is wonderful for low stomach acid, by itself, it won't address this.  Add an oxbile supplement when you're eating fat (and you should eat high quality fats whenever you can.)   This is doubly true if you've had your gall bladder removed.  I'd strongly suggest adding an oxbile supplement to your Betaine HCL.


The protocol is if you take more than 5 Betaine HCL capsules and still don't feel heat, you shouldn't add more.  I think you're at the point where the Betaine HCL is replacing your stomach acid and you're not producing acid on your own anymore, either because of too much Betaine HCL or other issues.


There are several reasons for not producing stomach acid: long term antacid use, H. Pylori infection are two possible scenarios.  One problem is that low stomach acid prevents the absorption of zinc, potassium, magnesium and other minerals that are required for stomach acid production.  So you need to supplement with those too until your stomach acid normalizes.  So try that.


Next, your doctor can do a simple test for H. Pylori and prescribe antibiotics.  (But of course antibiotics will mess with your gut flora which in turn will cause other problems requiring you to recolonize it after the course of antibiotics are done.)  If you don't want to go this route, you can use mastica gum which can kill them off.  Zinc supplements themselves can help control H. Pylori as well.  So I'd start there.


Gas, nausea, and bloating are already symptoms of poor gut flora, and this makes sense, because you don't want protein to ferment, you want it to be fully digested by your stomach and absorbed by your small intenstine.  You might even have SIBO if your stomach acid is too low as bacteria could colonize your small intestine.  If you have SIBO, probiotics are a bad idea until the SIBO is fixed as you'll simply cause a bigger SIBO infection.


Also be careful of probiotics as most of them are lactose based and aren't necessarily the right kind of bacteria.  You should also look at SBO (Soil Based Bacteria) and look into feeding them with resistant starch such as from raw plaintain flour - but don't do this yet, fix the stomach acid issues first.  Start by slowly backing off the Betaine and adding in zinc at potassium supplements first along with oxbile, add in some magnesium and maybe iodine as well and then get tested for H. Pylori and SIBO.





on December 10, 2014
at 10:17 AM

Hi people

this is an interesting comment page....

i have no acid at all, which some of you may have.....

Breakfast I have 16 tablets, lunch 18 ,dinner 22.... Never more than 6 at a time 1/2 hour apart...

even 6 with a cup of coffee....now I mix 50/50 capsules and solid tablets to vary the dissolve rate...

3 650mg 3 900mg at each taking....

If I don't I wake with headache and lethergy, sore joints, foggy head..................



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