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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Malabsorption/hydrochloric acid
Date: 03 Jun 1997

In <> (K
Williams) writes:

>Hi, all--
>Has anyone heard of an effective, easy way to see whether or not a person
>has malabsorption caused by not enough hydrochloric acid? Someone
>published a book about it. It is something about taking a certain amount
>of it and then seeing what the effect is, whether there is any kind of
>pain in the stomach or whatever, and then if there is, you neutralize
>immediately with some antacid or whatever, gradually increasing or
>decreasing the amount.
>Any leads? Please email your reply.

   Hydrochloric acid lack doesn't cause malabsorption except for B12,
except in the imaginations of chiropractors and a few naturopaths.
Hydrochloric acid plays a minor role in digestion-- it's there
basically to kill bacteria.  People with no acid digest food fine
(except that they need to take B12 in non-food form).  Even people
without stomachs at all digest good fine, except that they can't eat
more than a bit at a time (and they need to get B12 from shots).

                                       Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Vitamin Question (the old sewer pill story surfaces)
Date: 25 Jul 1998 07:19:31 GMT

Aaron Andrew Fox <> writes:

>And I note that Ms. Talonwhistler is selling the product she is so
>enthusiastic about.    Another unbiased opinion.  Would *you* buy a
>healthcare product from someone who doesn't know that the stomach acid
>acid, not water, to break down food?

   And in truth it's sort of an urban myth that acid in the stomach is
there to break down food.  It only assists in that in a minor way
(activating pepsin, getting out iron and B12, etc).  But people with no
stomachs, and people with no acid, generally digest things fine.
Occasionally they need a little more iron and B12, but that's about it.
Acid is in your stomach mainly as a bacterioside.  Your pancreatic
enzymes, by and large, are what digest your food (assisted in the
washer of your gut by the soap-like action of your bile).

                                         Steve Harris, M.D.

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Digestive Enzymes?
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 19:14:52 -0700
Message-ID: <ajkbju$dl1$>

Norman Yarvin wrote in message ...
>In article <ajgtse$76u$>,
>Steve Harris <> wrote:
>>Keith F. Lynch wrote in message ...
>>>What *is* the purpose of stomach acid, anyway, if turning it off has
>>>no ill effects?
>>Acid's basically a bacteriocide. Keeps you from getting life-threatening
>>diarrhea from spoiled food, carion, etc.
>Might it also be useful in dissolving small bones (as in Crunchy Frog),
>or at least softening up their sharp edges a bit?

Could be-- hadn't thought of that. Probably does that in hyenas and critters
with powerful enough jaws to swallow a lot of bone chips. In us tiny-toothed
primates, though, I imagine that function of stomach acid is about as
atrophied as our canines and our sense of smell. We've been making flensing
instruments out of sharpened rock for a LONG time.  Oldowan-- and I don't
mean Kenobe. It's about our first tool, and it arrives in the record a
couple million years ago-- about the time our brains really explode and our
features become gracile, and comes way before any evidence of use of fire.
Our somach acid at least since then has to have been doing mostly something


I welcome email from any being clever enough to fix my address. It's open
book.  A prize to the first spambot that passes my Turing test.

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Hydrochloric acid, enzymes, and junk food
Message-ID: <28%y9.2137$>
Date: Sat, 09 Nov 2002 03:18:22 GMT

SandraL wrote in message ...
>"pbeyer" <> wrote
>> I have never seen any evidence that oral ingestion of commercial HCL is
>> safe or effective....  Have you?
>> Pete
>Have you seen any evidence that oral ingestion of commercial HCL in
>dosages that do not cause discomfort is *unsafe* and/or *ineffective*?

There's no evidence that it's unsafe, and some that it is, since the amounts
in commercial "acid pill" preps are chickenfeed compared with the 10 grams
of HCl (~270 Meq acid) which your stomach normally makes in a day.

As for "effective", what's to affect? Your stomach acid is there mostly to
kill germs, and acid pills you take won't help with that (they're
semi-buffered already). As for activating pepsin, even if acid pills did it
(which they don't) the amount of digesting your stomach pepsin normally does
is also chickenfeed. People digest just fine with no stomach acid at all,
and indeed with no stomach at all.

The only real exception to the above is in the matter of the absorption of
iron and natural B12, since acid plays a minor role in both (more with B12
in the diet than iron). However, this would not be a problem for anybody
taking vitamins and/or iron, as needed, and both of these are a lot easier
to take than "acid pills."  Absorption of B12 in vitamins is not affected by
acid. Also, as noted, since the acid pills don't lower pH enough in your
stomach very much, they don't make any difference even to natural iron or
B12.  For many reasons, "hydrochloric acid pills" are a rip-off and scam.
Chiropractors, IMHE, love them a lot, even so.


I welcome email from any being clever enough to fix my address. It's open
book.  A prize to the first spambot that passes my Turing test.

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