Pepsin: Why You Need It and How to Get It

Pepsin is a vital enzyme that breaks down protein. If you’re not producing enough of it on your own, you could be at risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes later in life. This article will teach you how to get the nutrient and why keeping up with your pepsin production is important.


Pepsin is one of the most important digestive enzymes produced by humans (and many other animals). What is the purpose of Pepsin in terms of digestive and gut health? We need to digest the proteins in the meals we consume correctly. It also aids in nutritional absorption and protects against allergies, yeast overgrowth, and other issues.

Pepsin pills are now available to help with digestion when this enzyme is generated in low amounts. It may aid with indigestion and pancreatitis, GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn symptoms. Do you think you have a problem with low stomach acid? It may make protein digestion more difficult. Symptoms such as stomach discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, B12, and iron deficiency might suggest a shortage of gastric juices and Pepsin.

What Is Pepsin and How Does It Work?

Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller units called polypeptides in the stomach (or peptides for short). By breaking the bonds that bind amino acids, this enzyme aids in the digestion of proteins such as those found in meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Amino acids are referred to as “protein building blocks.”

What organ produces Pepsin, and where does Pepsin reside?

Pepsin is a digestive enzyme produced by the stomach. It has a role in the stomach as well. When stomach acid converts a protein called pepsinogen into Pepsin, this enzyme is produced. Pepsinogen is a non-active enzyme that is transformed into Pepsin by the reaction of hydrochloric acid.

Pepsin is present in acidic stomach fluids and is required to digest the meals we consume effectively. Peptic chief cells, located in the mucous membrane lining of the stomach, are responsible for producing pepsinogen. This occurs when the vagus nerve and gastrin and secretin hormonal secretions excite them. Pepsinogen reacts with hydrochloric acid to produce Pepsin, the active enzyme.

In the stomach, how does Pepsin work?

Pepsin is most active in acidic settings, with a pH of 1.5 to 2 being optimum. This is referred to as “normal gastric juice acidity.” When the pH level hits 6.5 or above, it stops performing correctly. Pepsin is then neutralized and denatured as a result. It is significant since the stomach is designed to be acidic.

Is Pepsin classified as an endopeptidase?

Yes, it’s an endopeptidase that deconstructs proteins into smaller polypeptide chains. It is an aspartic protease, one of three significant proteases found in the human digestive system. Amino acids must be broken down before being absorbed by the small intestine. Pepsin breaks down proteins into smaller peptides, which are subsequently taken into the circulation or broken down further by pancreatic enzymes.

Some pepsin may get through the stomach and into the circulation, where it continues to break down protein fragments that haven’t been digested. It is the most effective in cleaving/breaking peptide bonds between hydrophobic and aromatic amino acids due to its unique structure. Phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine are among them.

The breakdown of proteins or peptides into amino acids by the action of enzymes is known as proteolysis. For example, Pepsin starts the digestive process by breaking down proteins when it is released. This is also thought to aid in eliminating most germs from the stomach.

Benefits and Applications

What role does Pepsin play in the human body? Its primary job is to denature (break down) proteins, but it also serves additional functions such as improving nutrition absorption and eliminating dangerous microorganisms. Digestive enzymes’ primary function is to catalyze chemical processes inside the body. Digestive enzymes break larger molecules into smaller, more readily absorbed particles that the body may employ to live and prosper.

Some individuals might benefit from ingesting pepsin enzymes for a variety of reasons. The following are some of the advantages and uses of Pepsin:

  • Aids in the digestion of difficult-to-digest proteins.
  • By relieving stress on the gastrointestinal system, it aids in the treatment of indigestion and leaky gut.
  • Manages pancreatitis, which impairs the body’s capacity to manufacture the enzymes required to digest food.
  • Aids in the production of antibodies and the digestion of IgG.
  • It stimulates the release of bile.
  • Aids in the cleansing of the liver.
  • It improves acid reflux, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Improves nutrition absorption and avoids nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 shortage, iron inadequacy, and calcium deficit.
  • Natural inhibitors of enzymes are found in foods such as peanuts, wheat germ, egg whites, almonds, seeds, beans, and potatoes.
  • It is used to treat a broad range of health issues, including dyspepsia (recurrent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen), morning sickness during pregnancy, nausea, diarrhea, and indigestion induced by cancer therapies.

Although Pepsin is a vital digestive enzyme with several advantages, it is associated with several digestive issues. These are some of them:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and laryngopharyngeal reflux are two terms for the same condition (or extraesophageal reflux). This occurs when stomach acids, Pepsin, and other chemicals go into the esophagus. For example, Pepsin might linger in the larynx after a gastric reflux episode. Pepsin and acid move up to the larynx when someone has laryngopharyngeal reflux.
  • GERD and laryngopharyngeal reflux may cause esophageal and laryngopharyngeal mucosa damage, as well as pain. Acid reflux, chest burning, hoarseness, persistent cough, and involuntary vocal cord contractions are typical signs of these diseases.
  • Pepsin enzymes may attach to laryngeal cells, deplete their defenses, and erode membranes and tissue (called endocytosis), and might put you at risk for esophageal and laryngeal cancers.
  • Extraesophageal reflux is diagnosed by measuring acidity with a pH probe and looking for Pepsin in saliva and exhaled breath. Proton pump inhibitors, according to research, do not benefit the majority of persons with extraesophageal reflux.
  • While Pepsin is implicated in situations like GERD, GERD is caused by a weak or too relaxed lower esophageal sphincter valve. Inflammation, hernias, and obesity may all cause this. As a consequence, the contents of the stomach rise into the esophagus. GERD may often be eased by making dietary and lifestyle modifications that reduce inflammation.

Sources of Information

Even though foods do not contain Pepsin, they may influence the creation of stomach acid and digesting enzymes. As already stated, this enzyme is produced in the human body by “principal cells” in the stomach. Therefore, if you consume a lot of protein, you’ll generate more volume. Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, and protein powders are all examples of “high protein” meals.

Pepsin is also included in pepsin drugs and supplements. When someone lacks normal pepsin secretion, they are utilized to aid the digestion of meals (mainly proteins). They may also assist with illnesses like pancreatitis. Pepsin supplements are often made from hogs or swine (pigs) stomachs.

Some practitioners offer betaine hydrochloride (or betaine HCL with Pepsin) as a supplementary source of hydrochloric acid for persons with poor stomach acid production (also called hypochlorhydria). This may assist the stomach’s hydrochloric acid in metabolizing pepsinogen more effectively and enhancing protein digestion. It may also have additional advantages, such as lowering allergies and preventing candida overgrowth.

Dosage and Supplements

Pepsin supplements are medications that may be purchased over-the-counter and are not required to be prescribed by a doctor. Tablets, compounded powders, and capsules are among the options. Pepsin dose is determined by a variety of variables, including your weight, height, age, food, lifestyle, and medical history. Your doctor will determine how much prescription-strength pepsin medication you should take. Nuzyme Tablets and Wegazyme Syrup are two examples of pepsin medications.

Read the instructions carefully if you’re using an over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplement. Don’t take more than the suggested dose. Instead, look for a high-quality digestive enzyme mix that contains a range of enzymes for the most significant results.

To increase results, several products mix HCL and Pepsin. HCL with Pepsin is an excellent supplement to add to your daily routine to help repair your GI tract, combat acid reflux, and enhance low stomach acid. It’s also a vitamin for leaky gut. Although HCL with Pepsin is contentious, it is usually used under the supervision of a physician. Therefore, it’s crucial to start with one capsule and gradually increase your dosage.

  • It should only be consumed when a meal contains protein. You don’t want to utilize protein if you don’t eat it in a meal.
  • If you get a warm feeling in your stomach, you’re taking too much and may need to reduce your dosage.
  • Some individuals just need one capsule every day or per large meal. Others may need as many as nine pills each day.
  • Look for a supplement that contains around 530 milligrams of betaine HCL and approximately 20 milligrams of pure Pepsin.
  • This product should never be used on an empty stomach.

Signs That You Require More

Your body needs sufficient stomach acid and enzymes to break down protein. If you have low stomach acid, there’s a strong possibility you have low pepsin production as well. So what happens if you don’t have enough gastric fluids in your stomach?

A lack of stomach acid causes HCL deficiency. HCL is required for the production of the active enzyme pepsin. In your stomach, hydrochloric acid is produced naturally. It’s what turns your stomach into an acidic environment where food can be broken down.

If you don’t have enough hydrochloric acid/stomach acid, it might interfere with pepsin manufacturing, causing symptoms like:

  • Indigestion
  • Gas and bloating
  • stomach aches
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium deficiency are all common nutrient deficits.
  • And there’s a disorder called leaky gut that goes along with it.

You may have trouble manufacturing pepsin and digesting protein for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Deficiencies in nutrients, such as those caused by calorie restriction or a severely restricted diet.
  • Antacid usage history, particularly long-term use.
  • Antibiotics have been used often in the past.
  • Overeating, hurrying while eating, and feeling pressured while eating are symptoms of overeating.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water before to or during meals.
  • Sleep deprivation affects eating control and digestion.

Here are some things you can do to enhance your overall digestion, minimize inflammation that might lead to GERD/reflux, and regulate your stomach acid production:

  • Eat foods like pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, avocado, kiwi, kefir, yogurt, miso, soy sauce, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, bee pollen, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey, which are naturally high in enzymes.
  • Make sure to consume a range of alkaline foods and protein sources. When it comes to getting various amino acids, variety is helpful.
  • Consume modest, well-balanced meals throughout the day. Combine protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in your meals.
  • Eat no more than three to four hours before bedtime or when you lie down to sleep.
  • While eating, take it slowly. Take your time and eat in a comfortable setting. Before swallowing, chew your meal roughly 30 times.
  • Consume a wide range of probiotic foods.
  • Before each meal, take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Then, one to three times a day, mix one tablespoon with a small quantity of water.
  • Use Manuka honey, which has antibacterial characteristics and may assist with SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which is linked to a lack of stomach acid. Once or twice a day, take a teaspoon.
  • If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux, you should limit your intake of acidic meals. Instead, make an effort to consume more alkaline foods. Keep a food diary to determine which foods exacerbate your symptoms the most.
  • Consider experimenting with intermittent fasting. It offers a lot of advantages for intestinal health and lowering stomach acid.


Theodor Schwann, a German physiologist, was the first to discover Pepsin in 1836. It was one of the earliest enzymes found in the digestive system. It is still regarded as one of the most significant. However, it wasn’t until 1929, over 90 years later, that scientists at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research were able to figure out precisely how it functioned. The term pepsis (or peptein, which means “to digest”) comes from the Greek word Pepsis, which means “digestion.”

It is now employed in a range of sectors, including food processing, photography, leather manufacture, and others, in addition to creating pepsin supplements. Commercially manufactured Pepsin, for example, is used to alter soy protein and gelatin. It’s also used in the leather industry to remove hair from tissues and skins, generate protein hydrolysates for flavoring foods and drinks, and make non-dairy snacks and precooked cereals.

Side Effects and Risks

It’s possible to have adverse effects from pepsin medication or supplements, which are typically minor but may be catastrophic. Abdominal discomfort, severe indigestion, nausea, skin rash, and diarrhea are just a few of the adverse effects. If you take too much at once, you’re more likely to have these side effects.

Always see your doctor if you have any of these side effects while taking these supplements, particularly if they worsen over time. In addition, if you use drugs daily, have allergies or are currently treating a condition, or are pregnant, intending to become pregnant, or nursing, see your doctor before using any supplement.

Last Thoughts

  • Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller units known as polypeptides in the stomach (or peptides or short). Pepsin is produced by which gland? It is made by cells in the stomach lining. The inactive enzyme pepsinogen is transformed to the active enzyme hydrochloric acid (stomach acid/gastric juices) when it comes into contact with hydrochloric acid (stomach acid/gastric juices).
  • What component in the stomach aids the action of Pepsin? Although it thrives in an acidic environment, preferably with a pH of 1.5–2, the very acidic gastric secretions in the stomach aid this enzyme in breaking down meals correctly. Low stomach acid may be a concern because of this.
  • Proteolytic enzymes are the sort of digestive enzymes required for protein digestion. Over-the-counter supplements such as HCL with Pepsin are one example. However, since it may have adverse effects, it is essential to get medical advice.
  • Those with low stomach acid, pancreatitis, IBS, enzyme insufficiency, pancreatic insufficiency, vitamin B12 or iron deficiency, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating may benefit from digestive enzyme supplements.
  • Pineapple, papaya, kiwifruit, fermented dairy, mango, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, avocado, bee pollen, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey are all excellent sources of natural digestive enzymes that aid in protein digestion.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get pepsin enzymes?

A: Pepsin enzymes are produced by a strain of bacteria used to make sour cream and other dairy products.

How can I increase my Pepsin naturally?

A: Some spices and herbs in the diet can help to increase Pepsin naturally. Pimento, Italian parsley, coriander seeds, rosemary leaves, and sage leaves contain chemicals that stimulate digestive enzymes. Eating more insoluble fiber such as whole grains will also help with digestion by adding bulkier material to your stool which tends towards being softer than stools produced from high-fiber diets containing soluble fibers only like oatmeal or applesauce instead of pasta

What food contains Pepsin?

A: Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins in food. The most common sources of Pepsin are animal stomach juices and human saliva, which contains an enzyme called a proton pump inhibitor.

Related Tags

  • pepsin enzyme function
  • pepsin is the digestive enzyme that
  • HCL pepsin side effects
  • pepsin medicine
  • what does Pepsin digest

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)