With diet, probiotics & hydrochloric acid supplementation.
Mason had been plagued by chronic reflux. He then saw his primary care and then later his gastroenterologist who prescribed acid-lowering medication, which did not resolve his symptoms and caused reactions including a rash. Mason experienced a 30% improvement from a vegetarian low FODMAP diet (from Healthy Gut, Healthy You). He then came into my office and saw 70% improvements with a combination of HCl and probiotic supplementation. He is a great example of how powerfully your gut can respond if you provide the right support.
Dr. Michael Ruscio: This is Dr. Ruscio. I’m here with Mason who’s had really great results, and I almost don’t even want to say too much. I’m going to let you tell your story because it’s a great story. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you were suffering with, what you were told by other doctors, and then some of the results that you saw. And I’ll chime in here and there.
Mason: Well I’ve been a healthy vegetarian for 40 plus years. About seven years ago, all of a sudden I was having trouble just with a gurgly stomach, a lot of bloating, a lot of belching, and I was starting to experience acid reflux in the middle of the night. I went to my general practitioner, explained what was happening, and the first thing he did was to prescribe me Prilosec, advise me to sleep with my head elevated, looking for trigger foods, that type of thing. I found that Prilosec really didn’t help me at all, so I stopped taking that. Sleeping elevated helped a little bit.
I continued to go back to the general practitioner each year, and about 3 years ago he finally sent me off to gastroenterology. And that gastroenterologist basically put me on a heavier dose of Prilosec.
What happened then is I broke out in a rash all over my body. At that point he said, “Well, obviously you can’t handle that.” So he put me on a pepsin drug and that helped a little bit, I thought. After a while that wasn’t really working either, so I stopped taking that. I just basically was trying to look for trigger foods, that type of thing.
About a year ago, my condition worsened when I broke out with a severe rash. I’d gone to two different dermatologists. The first dermatologist gave me a salve and said, “Oh, that’ll go away.” The second dermatologist biopsied the rash, the rashes on my scalp, on my chest, my back, on my ankles. It was really miserable, really itchy. He sent a sample off to the lab, came back that it was called lichen probus, I believe. And the dermatologist said, “I’m going to give you this salve which desensitizes the itching, but for the most part we have no idea how to cure it. It’s something you may live with the rest of your life.” So I accepted that. At that time also I was really having a tough time with loose bowels. To the point where you’d leave home and figure if you had to use the bathroom someplace, where might that be? It just got worse and worse.
Low FODMAP Diet
I watched a series that time called Interconnected. In that series, they interviewed Dr. Ruscio and talked about his book. I was really impressed with what I heard in that series so I bought the book. Within two days I read through that book completely. I put myself on the low FODMAP diet and that helped by about 30%.
Then I got an appointment with Dr. Ruscio, met with him, and then he basically felt that my problem was that the doctors were prescribing medications to limit acid production, when in fact what I really needed was more acid in my system. So at that point he put me on hydrochloric acid pills and almost immediately all of my digestive issues went away. He had mentioned too that maybe as a plus that the acid would actually help with my rashes, and sure enough it did. Within about two weeks I started noticing that the rashes were going away. Within about two to three months they were pretty much gone. So that really helped and the acid treatment has just been miraculous for me.
DrMR: I want to make sure we don’t forget to include this. You were saying that when you forgot to take your hydrochloric acid supplement, you noticed a pretty immediate reaction.
Mason: Let’s say you go to somebody’s house and you’re having dinner there. You forgot to take your pills with you or just forget to take it. I notice immediately that I’m bloating and gas and those types of issues. So I’m very confident that the HCl is really helping me with my digestive issues.
DrMR: And that’s a clear indicator that it is helping you, of course. One of the things that I’m hoping that we’ll get to in time is a little bit more resiliency so you can deviate. Right now deviate one meal, you notice a change. What I’m hoping will happen is six months from now you deviate one week, you notice a change. A year from now you deviate three weeks, you notice a change. So I’m hoping that your latency will become much more prolonged, or I guess however you want to label that. That’s another thing to keep in mind, that where you are right now, only being a couple of months in, isn’t likely not the same place you’ll be six months, a year, a year and a half. Just kind of as a note of encouragement, because it’s great on the one hand that you’re noticing this quick feedback. I’m also hoping that we get to a point where you can forget your pills and not have to really worry about it.
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We use hydrochloric acid supplementation and this is something that I talk about in Healthy Gut, Healthy You, which can be helpful. Like we talked about a moment ago, it’s not helpful for everyone. And some circles on the internet kind of inculcate everyone into thinking that everyone must be on acid. There are factors that we can look for, and certainly being 65 or over increases the likelihood that acid may be helpful.
The challenging thing is, is that reflux can indicate either not enough acid in some cases or too much acid in others. That’s a real quandary, which is, “Well, how do we know?” Really, the best way to navigate through that is to do a cautious trial. In your case, almost instantaneous improvement. So that tells you that the acid is the right maneuver. But we also use probiotics, our gut rebuilding nutrient powder, and the vegetarian low FODMAP. I believe you had been on the low FODMAP prior.
Probiotics and Gut
DrMR: So that wasn’t a change from when you came in. But there was acid, there were the probiotics and the gut rebuild nutrients. Now it seems like the acid led to the most improvement. But what about the probiotics? Here’s an interesting bit of context. When you came in today, you said, “I was 100% last time we spoke and now I’m still doing great at maybe 95,” which is still great. But you had gone from the probiotics every day to, I think, every three days?
DrMR: And come off the gut rebuild nutrients powder, which is what we want to do. We want to figure out the minimal effective dose. But sometimes to figure out the minimal effective dose, you take not enough of a dose and some symptoms start coming back a little bit. So anything else to share there with these other supports and things that you’ve noticed. Do the probiotics seem to be aiding in any unique way or any feeling on those?
Mason: Well the whole package really helped in the beginning and I’ve noticed that I kind of get very, very minimum symptoms coming back, and that’s what we discussed. I will definitely go back and try more probiotics again.
DrMR: Had you also backed off your dose of the acid at the same time?
Mason: No, the acid was constant.
DrMR: So the acid’s been constant and the probiotics have decreased from once per day to once every three days, and the gut rebuilding nutrient powder is now gone. I think patients have more power in their hands than they realize if we can just try to isolate these variables.
So now all we’re going to do is go back on the full program, wait a few weeks until you seem to be back to that 100%, and then try to reduce these one at a time. That makes it a little easier to tease out that cause and effect.
That’s kind of the synopsis.
But we really see here, if you can be strategic when you use hydrochloric acid,
and for the clinicians, you really want to see a notable symptomatic
improvement. That’s what we should be looking for. You can have great results.
DrMR: Also, another awesome example of the gut-skin connection. This is something we were talking about a moment ago. We’re just scratching the surface on the gut-skin connection. There are skin lesions of various sorts that we don’t even have a name for where you may see improvement when you improve someone’s gut. Or that have no known treatment, that you may see improvement. I don’t want to oversell that case, but certainly, if you’re having skin issues, one area to consider is your gut. There’s the old naturopathic saying that the skin is a reflection of the gut. In this case, an added bonus that we weren’t even expecting to see.
Anything you want to kind of leave people with as we close?
Mason: I’ve been very happy with the treatment plan. It’s changed my life.
DrMR: Awesome. Obviously I’m thrilled that you’re doing so well. For those watching this, don’t underestimate the power of simple things. A hydrochloric acid supplement that you could buy online, may actually be more effective than a PPI from a gastroenterologist. Again, always check with your gastroenterologist. It’s not to say don’t follow the recommendations, but don’t be shy about getting a second opinion. Because in your case, the first opinion resulted in itchy reactions and minimal changes in your symptoms. If we go over to a different camp of thought, it turns out that was a much better fit for you. Awesome. Well, thank you so much and I’m glad you’re feeling so much better.
I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!
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