The Importance of Hydrochloric Acid

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/10/2023

The Importance of Hydrochloric Acid

Many people think that an acidic stomach is a bad thing. They think the term 'acid indigestion' means that they have too much acid in their stomach. Really, it’s just the opposite.

Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of hydrochloric acid or stomach acid. Your stomach acid is probably one of the most important fluids in the entire body, because the cascade of negative effects that you will experience without enough of this important acid is cataclysmic.

Let’s go through just some of the consequences upon your body, if you do not get your stomach acids right.

A lack of enough acid in the stomach can affect your ability to absorb vitamins, to prevent acid reflux (GERD), and to break down proteins that create essential hormones like your 'happy hormone' serotonin, which is very important for lifting the mood and keeping us positive.  


Your Stomach Needs to Be More Acidic Than You Might Think

Your stomach needs to be strongly acidic, which means it needs to remain at a very low pH. On a scale of 1-14 in terms of pH, you need to be between the levels of 1 to 3 pH in the stomach –which is very acidic.

Most people say, “Our bodies are supposed to be alkaline.” But this is not true. Only your blood should be alkaline, not your stomach. Your stomach needs to be highly acidic.

One of the reasons why we experience so many problems with heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, and gas as we age is because we lose stomach acid as we get older. And when you lose your stomach acids, a lot of things begin to go badly within the body.

For example, a strongly acidic stomach is necessary to help release bile from the liver and enzymes from the pancreas. And if the stomach is not acidic enough, you will not be able to release a chief enzyme called pepsin.

So what are enzymes and pepsin?


An enzyme is a catalyst, a thing that helps speed up chemical reactions in the body, which means it helps to both break things down and to build things up.

What’s interesting about enzymes is that they don’t get used up after they do their work. Enzymes, in fact, are kind of like a self-propelling energy that does all this work but doesn’t use up all its energies while working. There’s still some energy left over to do more work in the body.

Pepsin is an important enzyme because it breaks down a very crucial form of food that has nutrients we need badly—protein.

It takes a stomach of the right acidity to release pepsin to break down proteins. So without a properly acidic stomach, we will not digest or absorb protein, and this can have intensively negative effects upon our health.  

The most common symptom of a stomach that is too alkaline to break down proteins is gas. Other symptoms are bloating, burping, heartburn, and acid reflux. These kinds of symptoms occur because you cannot break down proteins.

Another negative side effect of a lack of stomach acid is that it negatively impacts the valve on top of our stomach.

That sphincter valve is controlled by the pH in our stomach, and it won’t close and open properly if that pH is not highly acidic. This is what causes acid reflex or GERD.

The main reason people are so confused about this is because what do doctors tell us can improve digestion and alleviate heartburn and acid reflux? Anti-acids! But in reality, you don’t need anti-acids. You need more acid. Only getting more acid into your stomach is going to set it right.  

One of the consequences of this valve not closing tightly is that the enzyme, pepsin, splashes up into the esophagus and up into your larynx, causing chronic coughing, hoarseness, throat irritation, asthma, and a feeling of having a lump in your throat.

All of these issues are caused by the stomach not being acidic enough, and this causes these enzymes go right up into the throat because of it.

Gastric refulx

Three main purposes of stomach acids:

1. To help break down proteins

2. To help absorb minerals

3. To kill off microbes

If you ever see a dog eat raw meat, yes, there are microbes and bacteria there, but there is little to fear because dogs have really strong stomach acids that kill virtually all bacteria.

We humans have an acid in the stomach to kill microbes, too, but our eating habits are often so disruptive of our stomach acids that we cannot fight off microbes like a dog can.

For example, in a normal stomach, B12 will fight off microbes. But people with low stomach acids don’t have enough B12 in their stomach because B12 is only absorbed in a highly acidic stomach.

But human beings don’t want extra microbes coming in to the stomach because if too many come in, we’ll get a bacterial overgrowth there.

You can get leaky gut syndrome, then, because undigested protein can leak through the system and create all sorts of immune reactions.

For example, undigested proteins can go through the lymphatic system and the immune system attacks them as a foreign body—and BAM, an allergic reaction occurs –because allergies are proteins

So it’s really all about the stomach acid, folks. And if you just get the stomach acids right, many, many of your health problems will go away and you’ll be able to experience a whole new level of health that will show on your surface as well in thicker hair, glowing skin, and stronger fingernails.

Candida Overgrowth and the Stomach

Candida is normally found in a friendly stomach environment because you actually have a normal level of candida there that is helpful to you.

We only begin to experience problems with candida when the PH in the stomach is too alkaline. Then, you can get an overgrowth of a fungus-type of candida, and that, of course, you don’t want.

This overgrowth can show up all over the body: the mouth, the vaginal area, the intestines, the toenails, all over the place.

H. Pylori and Stomach Acid


H. Pylori flourish in an alkaline environment; it will even alkalize your stomach in order to live.

People normally have some H. Pylori in their stomach. It’s a neutral microbe that can become activated when your stomach becomes overly alkaline, for the fact that it loves alkaline environments.

If it activates and becomes a “negatively” behaving microbe instead of a neutral one, then it can do damage, causing an inflammatory disorder called gastritis. 

Gastritis, if left untreated, can be deadly, so you wouldn't want an overly alkaline stomach, folks.

Let me tell you some of the symptoms of gastritis so you can recognize if you have this disorder and get help:

  • Nausea or recurrent upset stomach

  • Vomiting (especially blood or coffee-ground/tobacco-ey looking vomit)

  • Black, tarry-looking stools

  • Pain in the abdominal area

  • Bloating of the abdomen

  • A tendency to get the hiccups often

  • A burning feeling in the stomach, especially between meals or at night

  • A loss of appetite (a loss of appetite, folks, is never a good sign)

  • Indigestion

If you have any of these symptoms, get checked by a doctor for gastritis. He/she can perform an endoscopy or stool test and tell you if you have this or another stomach issue.


That reddening of areas of the face such as the cheeks and chin can also come from your stomach acids becoming overly alkaline. So, again, getting your stomach acids right can also make your skin look better, getting rid of affected areas on the face.

GERD, acid reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating- all of these are signs of having too little stomach acid.

Causes of low acid/overly alkaline stomach environments:

  • Taking anti-acids. Those very things you’ve been told to take to heal your condition could be hurting you, over-alkalizing your stomach and subjecting you to stomach and digestion orders that can lead to serious medical problems.

  • Stress

  • Food: Bad food, junk food, and sugar also take these important acids out of your body.

  • Diarrhea can over-alkalize the stomach because you lose all of your stomach acids.

  • Vomiting causes the loss of stomach acids—so bulimics frequently come to experience low stomach acid issues.

Undigested Proteins in the Stomach: Consequences

Let’s get into undigested protein in your stomach. The problem is, if you cannot break down protein in your stomach, then you can’t build body tissue so there goes the hair, nails, skin, and muscle protein.

BaldingFingernailsLoose skin

In addition to these negative effects, you will lose precious neurotransmitters in the brain, in the CNS, in the spinal cord, important amino acids like tryptophan, important hormones like adrenaline (which gives you your 'get up and go' and energy), and the amino acids that are necessary for building hormones.

And when the hormones get out of balance, you get all kinds of problems from weight gain, to a slower metabolism, to mental/emotional issues.

Serotonin, for example, is a pleasure hormone made from protein, so without your stomach right, you will not have the building blocks to make the important neurotransmitters that travel through the nervous system, controlling important hormones like serotonin.

And a lack of serotonin will

  • make you depressed.

  • create anxiety disorders.

  • disrupt sleep.

  • drain you of your sex drive.

  • take away your 'happiness' at every turn.

Without Stomach Acids, You Cannot Absorb Minerals and Vitamins Either

Another consequence of low stomach acidity is that this acid enables the absorption of minerals.

So, without the right pH, you cannot pull adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc, or iron from foods, and this can lead to anemia or pernicious anemia. So you will suffer from low iron or low B12, and different forms of anemia, if you cannot pull in that iron.

When you lose your iron, you can experience all kinds of side effects such as

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Loss of the hair

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Sleeping problems

  • Palpitations of the heart

  • Unrelenting itching

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Overall, you can see the cascade of effects that occur from not having your stomach acids right, and if you have an acid-reflux condition or GERD and you’re trying to fix your stomach with antacids, you’re basing your therapy on the wrong solution, and you’ll end up going to go from bad to worse.

If individuals would only fix the stomach, so many things will improve, just by fixing those different pH levels in the body.  

. . . But there’s one more issue I want to talk about before I get to the solution.

Stomach Acid and B-12

B-12 needs a very strong stomach acid to digest it.

If you lose B-12, you will experience visual changes, gait problems, fatigue, tingling, memory problems, basically an array of disorders, because B12 is involved in so many crucial life-giving processes such as DNA synthesis, in building crucial brain tissues such as myelin, in strengthening the immune system, in giving you energy, and in controlling the metabolism—so many important things.

A lack of B12 can cause premature aging, brain shrinkage, and a host of cancers. So, you wouldn't want to have low B-12.

And simply taking supplements won’t help. Most of the over-the-counter ones do nothing, and how will your stomach absorb these vitamins and minerals if it cannot digest them properly?

Is The Remedy for All of These to Create a Perfectly Acidic Stomach Environment?

What I recommend to make sure your stomach acids are at the right pH is the Digest Formula.

For those who don’t like the taste or odor of vinegar, I recommend a form of supplement I have in my store, which also contains a natural and powerful stomach acidifier that works to really balance your stomach acids, turning a poor stomach environment into one with the perfect pH of 1-3.

This is a supplement called Digest Formula, and it contains 50% pure, all-natural apple cider vinegar and 50% betaine hydrochloride, which is a great acidifier for the stomach.

Digest formula

What it does is it naturally gives you the acids that you’re missing so that you can start building up that acidifier and address the deeper cause, not just the symptom.

This is what I take right before a meal to acidify my stomach.

What I recommend for people who want to go on a protocol to completely balance the stomach acids, or are suffering from issues such as acid-indigestion, bloating, heartburn, and acid reflux, is to slowly begin increasing the amount of the supplement you take before meals, going from one before every meal, up to two and then three before every meal.

Do this until you notice your stomach is behaving normally, and that you have no digestive issues at all—basically until you find you just feel really good all over, especially after you eat and in the evenings, when symptoms of heartburn and GERD tend to crop up.

It is important to gradually increase the Digest Formula, not just to immediately begin taking 6 at a time. Although some of you with severe GERD and other issues will eventually need to work up to 6 of these before meals, you may want to do this very gradually, working your way slowly up to 6, capsule by capsule, allowing your stomach to gradually change its pH.

apple cider vinegar

Once you get your acids regulated and your stomach behaving properly, you can begin to slow down and back off the supplement because once you have enough hydrochloric acid in your body, your system will begin to recycle it on its own and begin working better overall.

Simply getting your stomach acids right, folks, is a highly effective and low-cost way to ensure overall health and to prevent health problems of all kinds.

In fact, getting the stomach acid right is more corrective of overall health than anything I know.

I would love to hear your comments and questions about apple cider vinegar as a remedy for stomach acidity, or questions about the stomach in general!

Undertand stomach acid and see more Digestion Advice from Dr. Berg Video Blog.

Thank you,

Dr. Berg DC

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