Man holding his stomach in pain caused from Hypochlorhydria.

Let’s talk about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO and understand how hypochlorhydria and gut health play an important role in it. What happens when the migrating motor complex (gastric emptying and gut mobility) slows down due to poor autonomic input from the brain into the gut? An extremely common consequence of what is also known as gastroparesis

With gastroparesis, not only does the motility/emptying slow down but so does the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This is known as hypochlorhydria and this leads to 4 very negative conditions which explains many symptoms of gastroparesis.


What is Hypochlorhydria?

Hypochlorhydria is a condition caused by an insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Secretions in the stomach are derived from enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and a mucus coating that is there to protect the stomach’s lining. 

Hydrochloric acid has many important jobs including:

  • Breaking down nutrients
  • Digesting nutrients
  • Absorbing nutrients
  • Eliminating bacteria and viruses
  • Protecting the body against infection

When the stomach contains low levels of hydrochloric acid, the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients is hindered. When hypochlorhydria is not treated properly, the risk of damaging the gastrointestinal (GI) system increases, along with numerous other chronic health complications.

Woman hurdling over and holding stomach in pain from Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

4 Negative Conditions Caused by Hypochlorhydria

1. Slow Breakdown of Food

Less HCL in the stomach causes slow breakdown of food, which leads to immediate bloating after meals. As the food sits there too long pressure builds and the acids you DO have get pushed upwards leading to acid reflux. Ironically, the medical solution to this is to put you on acid reducers such as :

  • Pantoprazole
  • Omeprazole
  • Nexium
  • Prilosec

Although these medications may offer symptom relief, they can actually make the overall situation worse.

2. Infection

You simply have lost one of our main defenses against the germs that we eat with each mouthful of food. Our stomach’s acidity kills pathogens! Another reason why taking acid reducers long term is a recipe for disaster.

3. Poor pancreatic and gallbladder production

When the body experiences a decrease in pancreatic and gallbladder production, it sets off a whole cascade of negative consequences.

 4. Incorrect pH changes in the small bowel

These pH changes lead to an environment where certain species of bacteria will over grow. This is known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and it is almost sure to happen in every case of gastroparesis.

Small intestine and stomach organ of the human body ,zooming in on  an overgrowth of bacteria due to Hypochlorhydria.

Consequences of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

These overgrowths can be measured on our stool panels and can be eradicated. Here’s what happens to our gut and body/brain with SIBO:

Over fermentation of certain carbs and fiber

When there is an over fermentation of carbs and fiber in the body, it  can lead to excessive gas and bloating up to 2-4 hours after the meal. This in turn can further shut down bowel motility.

Breakdown of the intestinal barrier 

When the intestinal barrier breaks down, this can lead to leaky gut syndrome or increased intestinal permeability. This in turn creates systemic inflammation throughout the body and brain. 

Leaky gut syndrome is the gateway to many autoimmune conditions as our immune system has to “deal with” all the large molecules leading to nutritional deficiencies and chronic fatigue and illness.

Some of the conditions that are associated with SIBO may surprise you, including but not limited to:

  • Joint pain
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Rosacea
  • Hives
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Asthma 

What Does Hypochlorhydria Tell Us About Gut Health?

As always, proper testing is the key and, in most instances, SIBO can be eradicated through natural methods including addressing the underlying causes of gastroparesis. 

With traditional medicine and gastroenterology, the common solution is usually medication or surgery. It is very common for the underlying cause of hypochlorhydria to be left being unresolved. Traditional testing with endoscopies/ colonoscopies are effective in ruling out life threatening illnesses, however, they do not look into the underlying function of the digestive tract and overall gut health. 

Functional medicine testing gets to the root of the problem by looking into bodily malfunctions such as gut infections, food sensitivities, poor gut microbiome, pH balance, pancreatic, stomach and gallbladder function, as well as brain-gut connection and many other factors. It is very common for natural therapies to be able to restore the function.

Please request more information on how functional medicine may apply to your specific condition, make sure to contact us at Beyer Natural Health Solutions today.