An introduction to home tests for low stomach acid
There are some simple tests you can carry out at home which can help determine if you aren’t producing enough stomach acid. These tests are not absolute and it is best to get low stomach acid diagnosed by your doctor – but they can be a useful indicator.
Bicarbonate of soda test
Dissolve a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a little water and drink this in an empty stomach. If you have adequate levels of stomach acid, the bicarbonate of soda is neutralised and converted into gas – this means you should experience belching within 5 – 10 minutes after drinking the solution. If no belching occurs, this suggests there may be insufficient acid present.
Add some acid in
This may seem a bit scary but it can be very useful. One option is to take a tablespoon of lemon juice when you are experiencing an episode of pain. If it helps relieve the discomfort it suggests you may not have enough stomach acid. If the pain is made worse you may in fact have too much.
Take a hydrochloric acid capsule supplement
Hydrochloric acid acts in a similar way to the lemon juice but will have a more pronounced effect; you should try the lemon juice test first to ensure your pain isn’t made any worse.
Take a hydrochloric acid supplement at the end of a large, protein rich meal. If you notice no effect this suggests you may not have enough stomach acid. If you notice a very mild warm sensation this suggests you probably have sufficient stomach acid and if you feel a significant burning sensation or pain it signals you may have too much.
If you don’t experience any sensation after taking one capsule you can gradually increase the dose on subsequent days using the same method until you achieve the desired warm feeling.
Please note, if the test produces an outcome suggesting you have too much acid, you are likely to experience similar symptoms to those of a flare up – indigestion for example. So don’t panic, the feeling will pass. Don’t try the acid tests if you suspect you have a gastric ulcer, or are using anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, other NSAIDs or corticosteroids.