The HCL challenge is a test designed to determine if you need supplemental Hydrochloric Acid.
How do I know if I need to do an HCL Challenge?
If you are experiencing symptoms of what appears to be too much stomach acid including bloating, belching, and flatulence, you may want to consider doing an HCL challenge. As a Nutritionist, one of the first things we learn about when it comes to digestion, is that those symptoms can actually be due to having too little stomach acid, not too much.
I know, it sounds strange, but it's true.
What is HCL?
HCL stands for hydrogen chloride, or hydrochloric acid. It is a chemical compound that helps support digestion by increasing stomach acid.
Having enough HCL is critical for good digestion. If the chyme (mixture of food, water, and HCL) emptying from the stomach doesn't contain enough HCL, the pancreas will not be stimulated enough to produce enough digestive enzymes.
How do I do an HCL Challenge?
- Start by take 1 capsule of HCL with dinner when you're eating animal protein. Did you get a burning sensation?
- If you didn't experience a burning sensation, then the next night take 2 HCL capsules. Monitor how you feel. Did you get a burning sensation?
- Then 3, etc. To a maximum of 6 per meal.
- On the night you feel a bit of a burning sensation in your throat/chest, then you go down 1 capsule the next night. That will be your dose for the moment.
Some people don't get the burning feeling, but rather they get looser stools so scale back one capsule if this happens to you. The other thing to keep in mind is if you get the burning after 1 capsule, then you may not need additional HCL or your colon may be inflamed (see below for contraindications). You'll want to work with a health professional to do some gut testing. We don't sell HCL (yet!), but you can ask your local natural products store for a brand they recommend.
Editor's Note: An HCL Challenge should not be done by anyone with ulcers or conditions like colitis, IBD, or Crohn's.