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How to do a simple home stomach acid test

A home stomach acid test isn’t difficult to do, but it can provide an awful lot of important clues about your health.

As you saw in the previous article, I was in my mid thirties when I discovered I had low stomach acid.

My zinc deficiency, B6 deficiency, a history of H. pylori and high urinary indican were indirect indications.

I then did a gastro-test (described below), which a home stomach acid test that confirmed a low stomach acid level.

It is BIZARRE that doctors don’t measure stomach acid.

Most natural health experts agree that low stomach acid levels are far more common than excess stomach acid levels.

In testing more than 2,000 patients at the Tahoma Clinic, Dr. Jonathan Wright and colleagues found that more than 90% of all heartburn and reflux patients had LOW stomach acid.

As paradoxical as this may seem, low stomach acid is the culprit for many of the symptoms associated with high stomach acid!

Low stomach acid leads to food fermentation and SIBO, both of which cause heartburn.

Low stomach acid levels reduce lower esophageal sphincter function, which allows acid to splash back into the esophagus, causing reflux.

This is why it’s so important to understand the dynamics of stomach acid and health.

If your doctor doesn’t run stomach acid level testing using the Heidelberg capsule test (which has been around since 1976), you do have options to do a home stomach acid test.

Whilst they’re not as accurate as the Heidelberg capsule test, they may be all you can get!

Baking soda / bicarb test for stomach acid

If you ingest baking soda, it reacts with stomach acid to create gas. As such, you belch. That’s it – that’s the basis of the test.

A lot people choose to try this home stomach acid test first because it’s very safe, low cost and you can get started right away.

I recommend performing the test 3 consecutive mornings to find an average response.

This isn’t a perfect test, but it’s worth a go because of its safety and simplicity.

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 4 ounces cold water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
  2. Drink the baking soda solution.
  3. Time how long it takes you to belch.
  4. If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing.

In theory, with properly functioning stomach acid you’ll likely belch within 2-3 minutes.

Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution).

Belching after 3 minutes likely indicates a low acid level.

Unfortunately, this test on its own is not accurate enough to rule out low stomach acid.

To rule out low stomach acid you will need to try the Heidelberg test (if you can find a doc who does it) or gastro-test.

Betaine HCL challenge test for low stomach acid

This test is also not 100% accurate, but when it’s done properly it can be helpful.

  1. Buy some Betaine HCL with pepsin
  2. Eat a high protein meal of at least 6 ounces of meat (keep the amount standardised, and do the test 2-3 times on different days)
  3. In the middle of the meal take 1 Betaine HCL pill
  4. Finish your meal as normal and pay attention to your body

There’s really only 2 outcomes from this test.

  1. You won’t notice anything, which means your stomach acid level is probably low.
  2. Distress characterized by burning or hotness are signs that you don’t have low acid levels.

Should you experience burning, don’t worry. You can dissolve 1/4 tsp baking soda in some water and drink it to nullify the burning.

If you do this test 2-3 times and keep getting a ‘positive’ result, there is a good chance your stomach acid level is too low.

But remember, it’s not 100% diagnostic by any means.

The “Gastro-Test” as a home stomach acid test

The GASTRO‐TEST provides an immediate reading of stomach pH – it is a more direct test than the previous two, but it’s not as easy to do.

It’s not easy to follow a set of written guidelines describing these tests because it’s not very easy to explain in writing!

The gastro-test device consists of a weighted gelatine capsule with 70cm of highly absorbent cotton floss coiled within.

One end of the floss protrudes through a hole in the cap while the other is loosely attached to the capsule.

It looks a bit like this (note that when I did the test, my acid level was low, reflected by a green string colour):

home stomach acid test

Note: It’s not easy to explain this test in writing, so please do NOT try it on your own, without first consulting a practitioner experienced in the procedure)

Basically, you swallow the capsule on string, leave it dangling in your stomach for 10min, then withdraw it to read your pH level / stomach acidity.

Here’s the explanation in full:

  • Eat a 3 ounce serving of chicken, meat or fish and wait for 30-min
  • After 30-min, swallow the Gastro-test capsule with water while the free end of the line is held outside your mouth.
  • Generally, the capsule descends into the stomach immediately. During this time the end of floss is outside the mouth, taped to the cheek.
  • Lie on your left hand side on a physio couch/table for ten minutes. This position allows maximal contact of the gastric pool with the floss.
  • After 7-10min, sit up, open your mouth and raise your chin.
  • Remove the floss with a fairly rapid but gentle pulling motion.
  • Put the floss onto a piece of plain white paper.
  • Immediately run the pH pen across the floss to gauge the stomach pH.

Reading the stomach pH/ acidity

  • The freshly removed floss is touched lightly with the pH stick.
  • The resultant colours are compared with the pH chart.
  • The mouth and oesophagus are normally pH 7 while the stomach may vary from pH 1 to slightly over pH 7.
  • I recommend that you do not attempt to perform the Gastro-Test on your own. I strongly recommend you seek a qualified practitioner who has experience of running this test.

See, I told you it was hard to explain this test in writing!

Summary of home stomach acid test options

I’ve shown you three options for a home stomach acid test.

The baking soda and HCL capsule tests are simple options to try on your own, beginning with the baking soda test because it’s easy to do.

The trouble with these two tests is that while they’re good, they’re not 100% accurate and therefore cannot be considered as conclusive.

The Gastro test is excellent, but it’s not easy to do and ideally you would want to work with someone who knows how to do it properly because it’s so hard to explain the process in writing.

Would you like some help?

It’s not fun when you’re feeling sick and tired without really knowing why. I’ve been there and I can sympathise with you.

If you’d like some assistance in uncovering why you haven’t been feeling yourself, we can help.

A case review and consultation would be an excellent starting point for you.

It will ease your mind, decrease stress and give you a concrete roadmap to help you recover and rejuvenate your wellness.

What’s more, if you don’t feel like you’ve received value, we’ll refund every penny.

You can learn about the process here.

Best

Dave.

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