Pernicious Anaemia Society


I've basically had some version of a stomach ache for two months. It might be gastritis, so I my naturopath ran a (fasting) serum gastrin test a week and a half ago, which I finally got the results of. If I had gastritis the gastrin level should be elevated but mine was actually borderline low. It was 13 and the range was 13-115. So I'm puzzled and thought I'd check with you guys to see if any of you have had a similar situation.

Before the test we were speculating that I had low stomach acid and should be taking HCL to boost it, but now we're not really sure what to think. She is pointing me in the direction of DGL instead. I want to do whatever is going to make it better, I just don't know how to figure out what that would be.

I was actually a little bummed that I didn't get a definitive answer from the test. Partially because I figured if I turned out to have gastritis even though I don't have h pylori, it would be further proof I have the autoimmune version of PA. (Which is another thing I don't have a definitive diagnosis on.)

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I do have P.A.(anti bodies to Intrinsic factor) But you can have P,A, without the antibodies showing up.(you?) I was told by a gastroenterologist that P.A. patients have low or no stomach acid,resulting in tummy problems,which the NHS doesn't treat. I had problems with tummy ache,which was helped by taking a water based probiotic(symprove) raw organic sauerkraut,and avoiding wheat flour. Don't know if this might help you. I don't actually know what DGL is.I have read that some people on this site take the HCL with pepsin capsules for low acid.I'm sorry that I can't give you any more useful information. All the best to you.

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DGL is licorice with the really nasty stuff removed. Real doctors have done studies to show it may be effective against ulcers and that it probably isn't effective against anything else. It's often taken with an antacid - which would be a good thing if you have high stomach acid, but a bad thing if your stomach acid was low.

The first thing to do is try the cheap 'n' cheerful test for stomach acid. First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, take a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it. After a short while you should start belching as the soda reacts with the acvid to form carbon dioxide. If, after a short while, you've not burped (except, maybe, a couple of little ones from air swallowed with the water) then you've quite possibly got low stomach acid.

If you test positive for low acid then the best thing is to try consuming something acidic with all meals for a day or three and see if your symptoms abate. People have tried lemon/lime juice, cider vinegar or, my favourite, Betaine HCl capsules.

These release hydrochloric acid (HCl) when they get wet. I take 1 to 3 per meal (depending on size of meal and protein content) about 1/3 of the way into the meal (so they don't produce HCl in an empty stomach. The ones I take also include pepsin - the enzyme that digests proteins.

These have totally stoopped my GI problems.

However, your low gastrin levels suggest you don't have autoimmune gastric atrophy which would cause the low stomach acid.

If I were you I'd go and see a proper doctor. After all, you know what they call alternative medicine that works? - Medicine.


Thanks ,fbirder. I have done the bi-carb test for stomach acid,and the result was zero stomach acid. When I told my G.P. she couldn't stop laughing,and said she had never heard anything so ridiculous in her life! I am grateful for your advice. Best wishes

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Explain to her that 4g (1 teaspoon) of sodium bicarbonate, if it completly reacts with HCl, will produce over 1 litre of carbon dioxide. Then ask her where she thinks it may have gone.

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Thanks very much for that! Great!

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I have gastritis without H pylori - started probably by NSAIDs, but who knows? I do not have PA

I had a look at what Gastrin is, and it seems to be released to stimulate the release of HCL in the stomach. So low gastrin would mean low HCL. Or of course it could mean that there is adequate acid in the stomach, so no HCL needed, so no gastrin produced. Helpful? No not really!

You can do a simple home test for your stomach acid levels as described here

There is no stated interaction between DGL and HCL so you could try using both. I can't find any explanation of how DGL works, but I can testify to its effectiveness with acid reflux.

I had a diagnosis of gastritis via gastroscopy, so knew what the cause of my dull central pain was. Its very distinctive, and nothing like any other pain I have had, and unaffected by eating or drinking. So it was fairly easy to work out what was causing it. Of course the gastro wanted to suppress my stomach acid further, and I trialled antacids and Omeprazole, but neither worked so that just confirmed to me that my stomach acid was at least part of the problem.

For me giving up other cereal grains, in addition to gluten that I was already off, pretty well sorted it. I also used HCL/Pepsin for a while. Now, as long as I keep off the grains I am fine. I still use the HCL when I eat a large or heavy meal, but its more as prophylaxis than to treat any symptoms. At 65 and with an underactive thryoid I probably should do it all the time, but its a pain!

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"I had a look at what Gastrin is, and it seems to be released to stimulate the release of HCL in the stomach. So low gastrin would mean low HCL."

If you have low HCl (high pH), gastrin is released to try to increase it - so low HCl leads to high gastrin. As the gastrin stimluates the production of acid the HCl increases and the gastrin reduces. And in healthy people this feedback loop continues with the gastrin level never getting too high. If your parietal cells have been damaged, they can't produce the acid and the gastrin level just increases and stays high. High fasting gastrin is not normal.

High gastrin also occurs with high HCl if you have a disease which produces gastrin even in the presence of high HCl such as a gastrin secreting tumour. So high fasting gastrin is not diagnostic of low HCl - it needs further investigation.

Low fasting gastrin is what is expected if the acid-gastrin feedback loop is normal.


Low gastrin could also be low gastrin - due to it not being produced for some reason, and therefore also low HCL.

It seems to me that testing whether you do have low HCL is the critical thing - gastrin measurement is an indirect way of measuring the HCL that relies on everything else working.

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Thanks all!

I'm still a bit turned around, but I have noticed that my heartburn, when I have heartburn, does go away if I take an antacid. That is leading me to think that I may not be lacking acid. Or I'm not lacking acid all the time, anyway. One of the things the naturopath mentioned was the possibility that my body is not signaling very well when the acid production should start and stop. She suggested having regular meals and not snacking in between as maybe the snacking was causing my body to delay acid production. That delay may be causing the range of symptoms I've been having: bloating, heartburn, and nausea. So, for now, it seems like not eating is the treatment to try. (Well I've been wanting to lose a little weight...)

Wish I had known *before* I bought a bottle of HCL. Ah well.


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