Betaine HCL & Apple Cider Vinegar for Low Stomach Acid in CFS/ME ~ Treatments

hydro acid danger

Can't Beet em'!

What is it? Betaine HCL is an enzyme derived from beetroots that is supposed to help in the digestion of fats and protein. Most of the products on market also contain Pepsin which is derived from pigs. However there are few brands that offer a vegetarian option.

Why take it? People with CFS/ME often have low levels of acid in their stomach. This means they don’t completely digest their food and so don’t fully absorb their nutrients.

Taking Betaine HCL is supposed to stimulate your stomach acid and make the whole digestion process a lot smoother. Over time it is also said to help stimulate your own acid production meaning that in theory you won’t have to take them for life.

How much should I take?: This is a link to an article from the Optimum Health Clinic on their dosing procedure for Betaine HCL.

Another alternative is to drink a little bit of apple cider vinegar before your meals which is naturally acidic and will most likely get your juices flowing. More info here.

My Experience (21/11/11): I completed a home capsule test from Nutri Link which involved swallowing a capsule then pulling back out of your stomach with a string to see what the pH level was. Highly entertaining for my family and highly informative for me. The test showed I was very alkaline which indicated a lack of stomach acid. So I ordered some vegan Betaine HCL caps and started gulping them down before meals. I was doing a number of things at the time so it’s hard to say for sure whether it was effective but I seemed to notice an improvement in digestion and an increased ability to gulp down heavy meals with out any gut symtoms after wards.

It’s a hassle to swallow caps before eating but probably worth a shot if you have trouble digesting. I’ve found by simply taking the time to smell, appreciate and properly chew my food I get similiar results as to taking the Betaine HCL. This takes disicpline though, which unfortunately can’t be bought on the internet.

Had an experience with Betaine HCL? 

Leave a comment below and share your insights!

Where to Next?

Want to read an inspiring CFS/ME Love Story?

Or get some nature into you with a good old fashioned Green Smoothie?


6 Responses to Betaine HCL & Apple Cider Vinegar for Low Stomach Acid in CFS/ME ~ Treatments
  1. amy southorn
    November 24, 2011 | 9:32 am

    A nutritionist once got me to drink bi-carb soda after waking to test my acid levels. Obviously not a foolproof test but if you have good levels of acid you should get the burps from the acid reacting with the bi carb. I take Quantum nutriton labs betaine HCL which is exipient free etc, not at all meals but definately the heavier ones. I try to practise mindful eating too!

    • Joe
      November 28, 2011 | 6:31 am

      Sounds easier than the capsule test that’s for sure. And thanks for the tip on the HCL, I had to search long and hard before mine arrived in the mail. Common sense food combining has always helped me. As has taking drinking half a cup of hot water or herbal tea and taking minute to smell and appreciate my food before gorging.

  2. Maureen
    June 4, 2012 | 7:35 pm

    Hello, I just discovered you website and I love it! I’ve been dealing with CFS for at least 8 years now (although it probably started before then).

    In one of your other posts on nutrition, you mentioned the formal name for low stomach acid (which I forget now … CFS brain!). I was SO interested to read that low stomach acid is a common symptom for people with CFS. I didn’t realize this. I do have low stomach acid, but didn’t connect it to my CFS.

    About a year ago, my doctor gave me a supplement called HCl Plus by Biotics Research. Each pill has 115 mg. of Betaine. He instructed me to start with one pill and continue taking more pills until I felt a slight burning sensation in my chest. The correct dose for me would be the amount of pills I could take before experiencing the burning.

    I did this, but I got up to 6 pills and still didn’t feel any burning sensation! I told my doctor this, and he was surprised — apparently this means I have extremely low acid content. He said 6 pills was plenty, just take that amount.

    I did this for awhile — took 6 HCl Plus pills before eating (or after eating, if I forgot). And it really did work! My bloating went down markedly, and I felt a little better energetically. The problem is, I was taking so many pills that a bottle of 90 would only last me about 4 days. Eventually it became too hard for me to keep enough stock of the supplement, and I fell out of the habit.

    Your article here is motivating me to start again. Thanks so much for your wonderful website — I’m so glad I discovered it!

    • Joe
      July 24, 2012 | 8:15 am

      Hello Maureen!
      My sincere apologies for the delayed response I have had my hands full with other projects.
      Firstly thanks for getting in touch and sharing your kind words, it means alot :)

      I remember when I first started making the links between all the random symptoms I was experiencing and the fact that they all potentially stemmed from CFS/ME/Lyme. It’s a powerful realisation as it makes you feel sane that your not imaging it all and also gives hope in that if you can get to the core of your illness you can potentially kill 25+ birds with one stone.

      The HCL Betaine connection is a useful one. There are times when it is very difficult to digest and realising you have low stomach acid can make the world of difference. Great to hear you made some progress with this, but 6 pills each meal is alot! It’s all about being sustainable so perhaps just use the therapy in waves when it feels most needed and keep researching other ways to heal your gut to support the production of acid. I’ve used Gluatmine and Probiotics at different times with good results. But most all for me it’s about really taking the time to connect with my food, smelling it deeply before I eat it, connecting it, having gratitude and then eating slowly one mouthful at a time. Plus not eating too much. These are my most powerful tools in this regard.

      Good luck with your digesting!

  3. Mary
    September 28, 2012 | 3:48 pm

    I have found that HCI supplements, non-vegan, have given me more gas than I had before. I use ACV now. I mix it with flax oil, stevia and use it as a salad dressing on all vegies, cooked or raw. As with any dressing you can add garlic, s&p, or any seasoning you like. I add the stevia to cut the acid a bit as I am not a vinegar fan, although ACV has the best vinegar taste I’ve found.
    Glad to share my experience!

    • Joe
      October 18, 2012 | 2:48 pm

      Thanks Mary for sharing your wisdom and salad dressing solution. Should give people another option if the HCI supplements aren’t sitting right. Alot of people swear Apple Cider Vinegar is their best friend. Sounds tasty as well!

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Welcome! I'm Joe and my vision is to empower people with the knowledge they need to take control of their health. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) in 2003 and recently added Lyme disease to that diagnosis in 2012. I'm on a path to recovery and I invite you to join me..... P.S. It's best to never take anything I say too seriously. In fact I reckon it's best to never take anything too seriously!