Hydrochloric acid is secreted in the stomach, and the main function of hydrochloric acid is to aid food digestion. It converts pepsinogen to pepsin, which breaks down protein present in the food. When there is hydrochloric acid deficiency, pepsinogen is not converted to pepsin and there is failure of protein digestion.
Achlorhydria is a condition where there is complete deficiency of hydrochloric acid. Or it can be partial and the term used for it is hypochlorhydria.
Lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach can give rise to many problems of digestion.
Symptoms related to Deficiency of Hydrochloric Acid
Undigested food in stool.
Flatulence and bloating in the abdomen.
White spots on fingernail.
After the meals there is drowsiness.
Allergy to foods.
There may be lack of intrinsic factor, when there is hydrochloric acid deficiency. It leads to vitamin B12 deficiency. The disease is called pernicious anemia.
Due to deficiency the bacteria present in the stomach are not killed and the chances of infection increases.
H. pylori infection which is responsible for peptic ulcer flourishes when there is hydrochloric acid deficiency.
Hydrochloric Acid Deficiency Treatment
Herbs which are bitter are believed to stimulate the hydrochloric acid secretion. Tea prepared from such herbs such as dandelion, devil’s claw, yarrow and wormwood may be useful.
Capsaicin present in cayenne pepper stimulates saliva and stomach secretion.
Lemon juice and vinegar helps to secrete hydrochloric acid.
Vitamin B1 is also known to increase the hydrochloric production in the stomach.