If your stomach is producing too much acid, often you’ll experience symptoms.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or “acid reflux”) is a condition in which food and stomach acid back up into the esophagus.
Stomach acids can literally burn the esophageal lining, causing “heartburn”.
Chronic flare-ups can lead to ulcers and cancer of the esophagus.
GERD can also be caused by the production of too much stomach acid or a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the little muscle at the base of the esophagus that controls the flow of food to the stomach.
Risk factors for acid reflux:
- Connective tissue disorders
- Hiatal hernia
Some symptoms of GERD:
- Chest pain
- Chronic cough
- Frequent diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Frequent regurgitation after eating
Some foods, nicotine, and chronic stress(1, 2) make us prone to a weakening of the LES:
- Citrus fruits
- Fish oil
- Greasy and fatty foods
Many people suffer occasional heartburn or upset stomach. If you experience some of the above symptoms on a regular basis, however, there’s an indication that you may have a chronic problem which—if not immediately addressed—can lead to more serious conditions.
A simple test will help you determine your stomach acid level, thereby empowering you to take the appropriate steps to resolve the problem.
How To Test Stomach Acid
Swallow a tablespoon of raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar.
If you feel an immediate severe burning sensation and irritation, you are most likely producing too much stomach acid (hyperchlorhydria). Below are suggestions for regulating excess acid:
- Mix 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda in a cup of warm water and drink each day
- Chew slowly and thoroughly
- Don’t eat within three hours before going to sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Drink enough water every day
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods
- Stop smoking
- Sleep on your left side with your head slightly elevated from the rest of your body
- Take effective measures to manage stress
- Drink chamomile or ginger tea
- Eat smaller amounts more frequently—rather than a large meal at any one time—and don’t lie down immediately after eating
The opposite of hyperchlorhydria is hypochlorhydria—not enough stomach acid.
The test for this is your reaction to that tablespoon of apple cider vinegar: while you are experiencing symptoms of GERD, swallow a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
If it makes you feel better, you probably have low stomach acid. To rectify this condition, drink 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) in a cup of warm water 30 minutes before eating; the ACV will stimulate the production of stomach acid, which will help with digestion.
Gentle abdominal massage before a meal can also help to stimulate your stomach to secrete more acid.
Balance is Key
Too much acid: ingest an alkaline. Too little acid: ingest a mild acid.
In either case, if you experience sustained relief, you’ve figured it out. If symptoms persist regardless of the steps you take to resolve them, see your healthcare provider.