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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Common Digestive Disorders Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Hypochlorhydria

The most common thing which goes wrong is hypochlorhydria. It is impossible to overemphasize the subtle yet devastating results of hypochlorhydria, or underproduction of stomach acid. The entire digestive process depends on a healthy load of acid being dumped on food when it arrives in the stomach. If this does not happen, protein digestion is incomplete. Remember that acid is necessary to trigger secretin release from the duodenum, which, in turn, provokes the pancreas to produce lipase, proteinase and amylase. If acid is deficient, this response is muted, and digestion of not only protein, but also fat and carbohydrate is compromised.

The presence of undigested food causes an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the lower small intestine and in the colon. The toxins produced by these bacteria are absorbed, and the liver works overtime trying to straighten out the situation. The final result is poor digestion and inadequate absorption of nutrients (even in the face of a healthy diet) and also a toxic condition caused by overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria (a condition called "dysbiosis"). Many symptoms result from this toxicity: headaches, fatigue, hypertension, gas, muscle aches and pain, insomnia, personality changes, irritation and more.

The frequency of hypochlorhydria in the population is fifteen percent. Among people who feel sufficiently ill to show up at a doctor's office, fully fifty percent are affected. By age forty, forty percent of all people are affected, and by age sixty, fifty percent have hypochlorhydria. A person over age forty who comes to a doctor's office has about a ninety percent probability of having hypochlorhydria. It is easily the most under-diagnosed and misdiagnosed condition in medicine. See hypochlorhydria for more detail.

Pancreatic Incompetence

The pancreas is, as the acid producing parietal cells of the stomach also are, especially sensitive to toxins. One of the toxins to which the pancreas is especially sensitive is alcohol. Many people are unable to fully digest their food, because the pancreas is not producing sufficient amylase, lipase and proteinase. This is diagnosed by measuring circulating levels of these enzymes and also by stool analysis for completeness of digestion.

Liver Incompetence

When the liver is damaged, it ceases to put out a healthy complement of bile salts, and this causes a failure of emulsification of fats leading to poor digestion of fats.

Colonic Incompetence

The frequently overlooked colon is equally important to health as any of the other organs of digestion. With age, a low fiber diet and low intake of water, it may slow down and stasis of food occurs, thereby allowing unfriendly bacteria to multiply, producing toxic material which leads to fatigue, headache, anxiety, insomnia, etc.

Butyric acid is a substance which serves as the energy source for the cells of the colon, so ingestion of this substance tends to regenerate a tired colon. Also, colon therapy is valuable to help the colon; but unless more fiber and water is presented to the colon, colon therapy will be of only temporary benefit. There is a variety of plant derived colon stimulants, such as aloe vera leaves, which serve to power up the colon. Psyllium husks (not powder) are an excellent source of supplementary fiber.


There is a variety of other, much more uncommon conditions, which can affect digestion, but I will omit them here and stick to those conditions which are so common as to be accepted by the medical establishment as normal, or at least not worthy of attention.

I believe that poor digestion is behind most of the diseases of aging — including cancer and vascular disease. Genetics may play a role, but something like a five percent role compared to a 95% role played by food selection and life style emphasizing exercise, rest, nutritional supplementation, and perfect digestion. I also believe that much of the degeneration of the endocrine glands is related to poor digestion. Nothing could be more important to the prevention of abnormal and normal aging than attention to the efficiency of digestion. See Anti-aging Medicine

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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