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Hyperchlorhydria

Hyperchlorhydria, also called hyperacidity, is an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach. This excess acidity may lead to peptic ulcers, heartburn, and indigestion.


Signs and Symptoms
  • Stomach pain 1 to 4 hours after meals
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Undigested food in stool

What Causes It?
  • Gastric irritants such as aspirin, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, fried foods, and strong spices
  • Excess stress, worries, or fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Food allergens

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Conventionally accepted medical approaches of assessment for this condition may include taking an X ray of your stomach after giving you a liquid, called barium, which makes your gastointestinal tract show up on the X ray. You may have an endoscopic exam, where a thin tube with a small camera-like device on the end explores your stomach. Your provider may also give you a urea breath test or a blood test for Helicobacter pyloribacteria.

Under the concepts of functional medicine, assessment is oriented toward determining what is impeding your body's ability to function normally. While some of the conventional medical approaches may help in this determination, they may not necessarily apply to a functional approach. Your healthcare provider will determine which assessment tools are most helpful in establishing a treatment strategy specific to your health needs.


Treatment Options
Treatment Plan

While there is no cure for hyperchlorhydria, the severity may be reduced. If stomach pain is severe, cool or cold compresses can be applied over the stomach. It is important to eat small meals frequently throughout the day.

Although antacids can reduce the acidity of the stomach by chemically absorbing or neutralizing some of the HCl, they are often accompanied by adverse side effects such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, kidney stones, bone demineralization, bone pain, muscle weakness, and cramps. In addition, antacids can reduce magnesium, potassium, folate, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, and zinc levels in the body.


Complementary and Alternative Therapies

As described below, various complementary and alternative therapies may be used to support the relief of hyperchlorhydria symptoms and causes.


Nutrition
  • Include sulfur-containing foods such as garlic, onions, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower in your diet. Sulfur is the basis of glutathione, which provides antioxidant protection to the stomach lining. N-acetylcysteine is also a precursor to glutathione.
  • Papayas contain the natural enzyme, papain, which helps digestion.
  • Essential fatty acids reduce inflammation of the stomach.
  • Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and zinc may support healthy digestion.
  • Avoid dairy products, fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Coffee, even decaffeinated, should be eliminated because of irritating oils.

Herbs

The following herbs may be helpful for stomach dysfunctions and may be used to support healthy digestion:

  • Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)
  • Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
  • Amla fruit (Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus emblica)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Aloe vera
  • Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Homeopathy

The following may aid the problems associated with hyperchlorhydria:

  • Nux vomica
  • Lycopodium clavatum
  • Argentum nitricum
  • Kali bichromicum

Acupuncture Acupunctureupuncture

Acupuncture may improve overall digestive function.


Massage

Therapeutic massage can relieve stress and increase sense of well-being.


Following Up

It is important to schedule future visits with your healthcare provider to ensure the prevention of various complications associated with hyperchlorhydria.


Supporting Research

Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:427,432.

Carr AC, Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(6):1086-1107.

Johnston CS. Recommendations for vitamin C intake.JAMA 1999;282(22):2118-19.


Copyright 2001 OneMedicine

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.


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