Betain HCL Pepsin or Sauerkraut

FOUR.  Digestive Enzymes


 Betaine HCl with added Pepsin: Bio-Care

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People with abnormal gut flora almost without exception have low stomach acid production. Toxins produced by overgrowth of Candida species, Clostridia and other pathogens have a strong ability to reduce secretion of stomach acid. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, recommends that GAPS patients supplement with stomach acid. The most physiological preparation available is Betaine HCl with Pepsin.

We asked Dr Campbell Mc Bride what HCl and Pepsin brand was suitable for GAPS; Bio-Care is one of the suggested GAPS brands that meet the protocol outlined in the GAPS book p.195: 200mg of Betaine HCl and 100mg of  Pepsin.  One capsule of Bio-Care’s Betain HCl/Pepsin is suitable for adults and some children as young as eight have managed it well, however the following dosages will assist you in determining the right dose. 


Children: To determine the right dose for a child, start from a small pinch of the powder added to the first mouthful of the meal. In two to three days, increase the dose to two pinches and so on. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride reports that many parents see improvement in their child’s stools in just a few days.

The dosage needs to be tested for each child, however Dr McBride suggests the following:


18-24 months 1 pinch

2-3 years old 2-3 pinches

4-6 years old 1/2 capsule

6 and older ½ – 1 capsule

Children over 10 may need to follow adult dosages.


To determine the right dose, take one capsule at the start of the meal. Monitor how your stomach feels during and after eating. Should any burning or heaviness occur, or if burning has been present previously (before taking the supplement) and is now worsened with the use of the Betaine HCl, do not continue using this supplement. This is an indication that your stomach is overproducing acid, or that your stomach lining may be damaged.

If the first dose of Betaine HCl provided no noticeable stomach discomfort try taking two capsules at the start of your next meal; again, monitor for burning and or heaviness during and after eating. If taking two capsules produces some discomfort but, one capsule does not, restrict yourself to one capsule at the start of each meal. If the two capsule dose produced no discomfort try three capsules at the start of your next meal. If all goes well when taking three capsules at the start of each meal stay with that dosage, most individuals will not require increasing the dosage to four or more capsules.

 Question: How can I monitor the above symptoms in a child who cannot communicate their discomfort? 

A: This can make it a little difficult to determine and this is why Dr McBride recommends that children take sauerkraut juice, sauerkraut or meat stock to assist in preparing the stomach for the arriving food.  Sauerkraut is the strongest stimulant and best source of stomach acid for both adults and children with GAPS.  Supplementing stomach acid will prepare the pancreas to produce its own enzymes as well as triggering bile secretion.


Do not supplement HCl with probiotics because the stomach acid in the HCl & Pepsin will destroy some of the good flora added by the Probiotic.

Generally, Betaine HCl with Pepsin should be taken at the beginning of each meal with the first bite of food.

How long will I need to take Betain HCl with added Pepsin?

Regular use of supplemental hydrochloric acid will, in most cases, “re-train” the stomach to produce higher concentrations of acid on its own. This process may take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the individual. The most significant indication that acid production is improving is that Betaine HCl supplementation can no longer be comfortably tolerated.  As the gut begins to heal, you need to start reducing the amount of stomach acid supplementation taking them only with heavy meals or when you have eaten a non GAPS allowable food that will possibly cause a problem. 

Click here to buy Bio-Care: Betain HCL & Pepsin