The Heidelberg Test is primarily used to detect various stages of hyopchlorhydria (low stomach acid) or achlorhydria (absence of stomach acid) - although it will also detect overacidity. It is important that these conditions are diagnosed as adequate stomach acid is vital for the digestion of protein and also the liberation and absorption of minerals and vitamin B12.
Typical signs of low stomach acidity include: gas, belching, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), food allergies/sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies (e.g. iron, zinc, vitamin B12), auto-immune disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, vitaligo, rosacea, and numerous others.
Treatment of low stomach acidity typically involves supplementation with betaine HCl supplements but others such as zinc can also be useful (zinc is required for the body's stomach acid production).
This test requires you to visit a clinic or lab. It is likely to be the most accurate measure of stomach acid production but the most time consuming and expensive. The test was developed at the University of Heidelberg in the city of Heidelberg, Germany. The Heidelberg test involves swallowing a pH monitoring device that transmits information about the level of acidity in your stomach back to a computer that a clinician can review. The pH monitoring device is similar in size to the average nutritional supplement capsule so is easy to swallow and nothing to worry about. The typical test procedure is as follows:
1. Fast overnight (at least 8 hours)
2. Arrive at the clinic/lab and swallow the pH monitoring capsule
3. A small electrode will be placed on your stomach to pick up signals from the capsule
4. You will be asked to recline on a bed for 30 minutes while your fasting stomach pH is measured.
5. You will then be asked to drink a sodium bicarbonate solution (or similar alkaline solution).
6. The ability of your parietal cells to secrete hydrochloric acid and the time it takes to 'reacidify' your stomach is then assessed.
5. The capsule can be removed by pulling it back out of your mouth using a small string attached to it or you can simply pass it in your next bowel movement.
6. A doctor will print a graph of the capsule's pH readings as it sat in your stomach and discuss the result with you.
The Heidelberg-capsule has been used over 30 years (mainly in research) and close to 150 clinical studies have been published.