True, HCL is necessary to break down proteins - though it does not break down proteins itself but rather combines with another item to produce pepsin which begins the process of breaking down proteins in the stomach. Betain helps the body produce HCL. Why it is not deemed necessary by some of the top digestive enzyme makers I do not know, but I am sure there is one or more reasons. Since HCL is a necessary component of breaking down proteins it just amazes me that mainstream products are designed to block HCL production. Most instances of stomach distress such as acid reflux are caused by LACK of HCL.
Here's a pretty good write up on digestion:
Bitter herbs such as Swedish Bitters or Grape Bitters without alcohol, kefir, and HCL. These helped me reach a Candida cure without nearly as much intestinal digestive trouble as many others experience.
I agree. Bitters are much better than digestive enzymes. Unlike digestive enzymes, bitters will not reduce the body's own ability to produce digestive enzymes. Instead, bitters work by stimulating the vagus nerve to increase the release of the body's own digestive enzymes, stomach acid and bile for digestion. In the process the bitters also stimulate cleansing of the liver.
The only real drawback to most bitters though is that many of them contain stimulant laxatives and berberine herbs. Stimulant laxatives (senna, cascara sagrada, rhubarb root, aloes) can weaken the intestinal muscles in as little as a few weeks leading to a laxative dependence. Berberine herbs (goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape root, coptis, etc) destroy the intestinal flora and can damage the intestinal lining with continued use. There is a simple way around these problems though. Don't follow the directions on the bottle. Most bitters recommend a whole teaspoon of the liquid. This is way more than is needed. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the tongue, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve. So all that is needed is enough to taste the bitterness. This is why I only recommend a half a dropper full of the bitters on the tongue before, during or after meals. This does not provide enough of the anthraquinone containing stimulant laxatives nor enough berberine to cause problems. Remember to also drink plenty of water throughout the day when using bitters because of the liver cleansing effects.
Another drawback to digestive enzymes is that they also contain betaine HCl and the enzymes cellulase, hemicellulase and sometimes pectinase. As with the substitutes of the body's own digestive enzymes reducing the body's own output, betaine HCl also shuts down the body's own production of hydrochloric acid with long term use. Cellulase and hemicellulase I covered in this post:
Pectinase poses the same problem.
I was told by my natropathic doctor that taking enzymes is fine. Once you stop, your body will produce them again!
That is like saying when you stop morphine your body will start making its own dopamine again. Yes, this can happen but it takes time and you will experience problems in the meantime.
In addition, most enzymes also contain betaine HCl that will shut down your stomach acid formation. This is a greater problem since the nutrients needed to produce stomach acid are acid dependent for absorption. Therefore, when the person shuts down their stomach acid production then goes of the betaine HCl there is no acid to absorb the nutrients needed to create more acid and they end up in a downward spiral of digestive disorders.