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Search Health Information    Betaine Hydrochloride

Betaine Hydrochloride

Uses

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Acne Rosacea
Refer to label instructions
Hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex improved some cases of rosacea in people with low stomach acid. Take only under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.

Some people with rosacea have been reported to produce inadequate stomach acid .1 In a preliminary trial, supplemental hydrochloric acid, along with vitamin B complex, improved some cases of rosacea in people with low stomach-acid production.2 Similarly, improvement in rosacea has been reported anecdotally after supplementation with pancreatic digestive enzymes , and a controlled study found that rosacea patients produced less pancreatic lipase than healthy people.3 Controlled trials are needed to evaluate the effects of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme supplements in rosacea. Hydrochloric acid supplements should not be taken without the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.

1 Star
Allergies and Sensitivities and Food Allergies
Refer to label instructions
Hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach helps to digest protein, and may theoretically help break down food allergens to smaller molecules that are not allergenic.

According to one theory, allergies are triggered by partially undigested protein. Proteolytic enzymes may reduce allergy symptoms by further breaking down undigested protein to sizes that are too small to cause allergic reactions.4 Preliminary human evidence supports this theory.5 Hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach also helps the digestion of protein, and preliminary research suggests that some people with allergies may not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid.6 , 7 , 8 However, no controlled trials have investigated the use of enzyme supplements to improve digestion as a treatment for food allergies.

1 Star
Asthma
Refer to label instructions
Used under medical supervision, betaine HCl may help restore stomach acid levels and improve asthma symptoms.
A study conducted many years ago showed that 80% of children with asthma had hypochlorhydria ( low stomach acid ). Supplementation with hydrochloric acid (HCl) in combination with avoidance of known food allergens led to clinical improvement in this preliminary trial.9 In more recent times, HCl has usually been supplemented in the form of betaine HCl . The amount needed depends on the severity of hypochlorhydria and on the size of a meal. Because it is a fairly strong acid, betaine HCl should be used only with medical supervision.
1 Star
Chronic Candidiasis
Refer to label instructions
Betaine hydrochloride is a type of digestive enzyme that inhibits the overgrowth of candida and prevents it from becoming established in the small intestine.

It is unknown if taking pancreatic enzymes or betaine HCl (hydrochloric acid) tablets is beneficial for chronic candidiasis. Nonetheless, some doctors recommend improving digestive secretions with these agents. Hydrochloric-acid secretion from the stomach, pancreatic enzymes, and bile all inhibit the overgrowth of Candida and prevent its penetration into the absorptive surfaces of the small intestine.10 , 11 , 12 Decreased secretion of any of these important digestive components can lead to overgrowth of Candida in the gastrointestinal tract. Consult a physician for more information.

1 Star
Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Refer to label instructions
To correct the low stomach acid that often occurs with DH, some doctors recommend betaine HCI, a source of hydrochloric acid.

People with DH frequently have mild malabsorption (difficulty absorbing certain nutrients) associated with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) and inflammation of the stomach lining (atrophic gastritis).13 Mild malabsorption may result in anemia 14 and nutritional deficiencies of iron , folic acid ,15 , 16 vitamin B12 ,17 , 18 and zinc .19 , 20 , 21 More severe malabsorption may result in loss of bone mass.22 Additional subtle deficiencies of vitamins and minerals are possible, but have not been investigated. Therefore, some doctors recommend people with DH have their nutritional status checked regularly with laboratory studies. These doctors may also recommend multivitamin-mineral supplements and, to correct the low stomach acid, supplemental betaine HCl (a source of hydrochloric acid).

1 Star
Gallstones
Refer to label instructions
People with gallstones may have insufficient stomach acid and may benefit from supplementing with betaine HCI.

According to one older report, people with gallstones were likely to have insufficient stomach acid.23 Some doctors assess adequacy of stomach acid in people with gallstones and, if appropriate, recommend supplementation with betaine HCl . Nonetheless, no research has yet explored whether such supplementation reduces symptoms of gallstones.

1 Star
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Refer to label instructions
Hydrochloric acid is sometimes recommended by practitioners of natural medicine in the hope that improved digestion will help prevent reflux.

Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes are sometimes recommended by practitioners of natural medicine in the hope improved digestion will help prevent reflux.24 However, these therapies have not been researched for their effectiveness.

1 Star
Hives
Refer to label instructions
Lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach may contribute to chronic hives related to food allergies. Supplementing with betaine HCI, which contains hydrochloric acid, may help.

According to preliminary studies from many years ago, lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach was associated with chronic hives, presumably as a result of increasing the likelihood of developing food allergies . In one such study, 31% were diagnosed as having achlorhydria (no gastric acid output), and 53% were shown to be hypochlorhydric (having low gastric acid output).25 In a related study, treatment with an HCl supplement and a vitamin B-complex supplement helped to treat people with hives.26 Betaine HCl is the most common hydrochloric acid-containing supplement; it comes in tablets or capsules measured in grains or milligrams. One or more tablets or capsules, each containing 5–10 grains (325–650 mg) are typically taken with a meal that contains protein. Diagnosis of a deficiency of HCl and supplementation with HCl should be supervised by a doctor.

1 Star
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Consult your doctor
Supplementing betaine hydrochloride with meals may improve digestion in people who have been diagnosed with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria).

According to Jonathan Wright, MD, another cause of heartburn can be too little stomach acid.27 This may seem to be a paradox, but based on the clinical experience of a few doctors such as Dr. Wright, supplementing with betaine HCl (a compound that contains hydrochloric acid) often relieves the symptoms of heartburn and improves digestion, at least in people who have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). The amount of betaine HCl used varies with the size of the meal and with the amount of protein ingested. Typical amounts recommended by doctors range from 600 to 2,400 mg per meal. Use of betaine HCl should be monitored by a healthcare practitioner and should be considered only for indigestion sufferers who have been diagnosed with hypochlorhydria.

1 Star
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Refer to label instructions
When stomach acid is low, supplementing with betaine HCl can reduce food-allergy reactions and help some people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Many years ago, two researchers reported that some individuals with RA had inadequate stomach acid .28 Hydrochloric acid, called HCl by chemists, is known to help break down protein in the stomach before the protein can be absorbed in the intestines. Allergies generally occur when inadequately broken down protein is absorbed from the intestines. Therefore, some doctors believe that when stomach acid is low, supplementing with betaine HCl can reduce food-allergy reactions by helping to break down protein before it is absorbed. In theory such supplementation might help some people with RA, but no research has investigated whether betaine HCl actually reduces symptoms of RA.

Supplementation with betaine HCl should be limited to people who have a proven deficit in stomach acid production. Of doctors who prescribe betaine HCl, the amount used varies with the size of the meal and with the amount of protein ingested. Although typical amounts recommended by doctors range from 600 to 2,400 mg of betaine HCl per meal, use of betaine HCl needs to be monitored by a healthcare practitioner and tailored to the needs of the individual.

1 Star
Vitiligo
Refer to label instructions
Lack of stomach acid may play a role in vitiligo. Supplementing with betaine HCL may help repigment the skin.

In one early report, lack of stomach acid (achlorhydria) was associated with vitiligo. Supplementation with dilute hydrochloric acid after meals resulted in gradual repigmentation of the skin (after one year or more).29 Hydrochloric acid, or its more modern counterpart betaine HCl , should be taken only under the supervision of a doctor.

How It Works

How to Use It

Betaine HCl is the most common hydrochloric acid-containing supplement. Normally it comes in tablets or capsules measured in grains or milligrams. Only people who have reduced levels of stomach acid (“hypochlorhydria”) should take betaine HCl; this condition can be diagnosed by a doctor. When appropriate, some doctors recommend taking one or more tablets or capsules, each 5–10 grains (325–650 mg), with a meal that contains protein. Occasionally, betaine (trimethylglycine) is recommended to reduce blood levels of a substance called homocysteine , which is associated with heart disease . This form of betaine is different from betaine HCl.

Where to Find It

Gastric acid is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach. The acidity is quite strong in a normal stomach. In fact, the stomach can be between 100,000 and almost 1,000,000 times more acidic than water.

Possible Deficiencies

Some research suggests that people with a wide variety of chronic disorders, such as allergies ,30 asthma ,31 and gallstones ,32 do not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid.

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

People taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cortisone-like drugs, or other medications that might cause a peptic ulcer should not take betaine HCl.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Dessicated Thyroid

    The normal stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which influences the absorption of thyroid hormones. Research has shown that taking drugs that inhibit the production of stomach acid reduces the absorption of thyroid hormones.33 Conversely, people with low stomach acid who take betaine hydrochloride for "acid-replacement therapy" would be expected to have an increase in their absorption of thyroid hormones. For that reason, people taking thyroid hormones should not take betaine hydrochloride without the supervision of a doctor, who can determine whether a change in thyroid hormone dose is necessary.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Levothyroxine

    The normal stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which influences the absorption of thyroid hormones. Research has shown that taking drugs that inhibit the production of stomach acid reduces the absorption of thyroid hormones.34 Conversely, people with low stomach acid who take betaine hydrochloride for "acid-replacement therapy" would be expected to have an increase in their absorption of thyroid hormones. For that reason, people taking thyroid hormones should not take betaine hydrochloride without the supervision of a doctor, who can determine whether a change in thyroid hormone dose is necessary.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Liothyronine

    The normal stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which influences the absorption of thyroid hormones. Research has shown that taking drugs that inhibit the production of stomach acid reduces the absorption of thyroid hormones.35 Conversely, people with low stomach acid who take betaine hydrochloride for "acid-replacement therapy" would be expected to have an increase in their absorption of thyroid hormones. For that reason, people taking thyroid hormones should not take betaine hydrochloride without the supervision of a doctor, who can determine whether a change in thyroid hormone dose is necessary.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Liotrix

    The normal stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which influences the absorption of thyroid hormones. Research has shown that taking drugs that inhibit the production of stomach acid reduces the absorption of thyroid hormones.36 Conversely, people with low stomach acid who take betaine hydrochloride for "acid-replacement therapy" would be expected to have an increase in their absorption of thyroid hormones. For that reason, people taking thyroid hormones should not take betaine hydrochloride without the supervision of a doctor, who can determine whether a change in thyroid hormone dose is necessary.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Large amounts of betaine HCl can burn the lining of the stomach. If a burning sensation is experienced, betaine HCl should be immediately discontinued. People should not take more than 10 grains (650 mg) of betaine HCl without the recommendation of a physician. All people with a history of peptic ulcers , gastritis , or gastrointestinal symptoms—particularly heartburn —should see a doctor before taking betaine HCl. Betaine HCl helps make some minerals and other nutrients more absorbable.37 , 38

References

1. Johnson L, Eckardt R. Rosacea keratitis and conditions with vascularization of the cornea treated with riboflavin. Arch Ophthamol 1940;23:899–907.

2. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Med J 1945;38:235–41.

3. Barba A, Rosa B, Angelini G, et al. Pancreatic exocrine function in rosacea. Dermatologica 1982;165:601–6.

4. Oelgoetz AW, Oelgoetz PA, Wittenkind J. The treatment of food allergy and indigestion of pancreatic origin with pancreatic enzymes. Am J Dig Dis Nutr 1935;2:422–6.

5. McCann M. Pancreatic enzyme supplement for treatment of multiple food allergies. Ann Allergy 1993;71:269 [abstract #17].

6. Kokkonen J, Simila S, Herva R. Impaired gastric function in children with cow’s milk intolerance. Eur J Pediatr 1979;132:1–6.

7. Kokkonen J, Simila S, Herva R. Gastrointestinal findings in atopic children. Eur J Pediatr 1980;134:249–54.

8. Gonzalez H, Ahmed T. Suppression of gastric H2-receptor mediated function in patients with bronchial asthma and ragweed allergy. Chest 1986;89:491–6.

9. Bray GW. The hypochlorhydria of asthma in childhood. Q J Med 1931;24:181–97.

10. Boero M, Pera A, Andriulli A, et al. Candida overgrowth in gastric juice of peptic ulcer subjects on short- and long-term treatment with H2-receptor antagonists. Digestion 1983;28:158–63.

11. Rubinstein E. Antibacterial activity of the pancreatic fluid. Gastroenterology 1985;88:927–32 [review].

12. Sarker SA, Gyr R. Non-immunological defense mechanisms of the gut. Gut 1990;33:1331–7 [review].

13. Yancy KB, Lawley TJ. “Immunologically Mediated Skin Diseases.”Harrison’s Online. 1999. http://www.harrisonsonline.com/hill-bin/Chapters.cgi (Jan 10, 2000).

14. Kastrup W, Mobacken H, Stockbrugger R, et al. Malabsorption of vitamin B12 in dermatitis herpetiformis and its association with pernicious anaemia. Acta Med Scand 1986;220:261–8.

15. Gawkrodger DJ, Ferguson A, Barnetson RS. Nutritional status in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;48:355–60.

16. Hoffbrand AV, Douglas AP, Fry L, Stewart JS. Malabsorption of dietary folate (Pteroylpolyglutamates) in adult coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Br Med J 1970;4:85–9.

17. Davies MG, Marks R, Nuki G. Dermatitis herpetiformis—a skin manifestation of a generalized disturbance in immunity. Q J Med 1978;47:221–48.

18. Kastrup W, Mobacken H, Stockbrugger R, et al. Malabsorption of vitamin B12 in dermatitis herpetiformis and its association with pernicious anaemia. Acta Med Scand 1986;220:261–8.

19. Crofton RW, Glover SC, Ewen SW, et al. Zinc absorption in celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis: a test of small intestinal function. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;38:706–12.

20. Gawkrodger DJ, Ferguson A, Barnetson RS. Nutritional status in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;48:355–60.

21. Hoffbrand AV, Douglas AP, Fry L, Stewart JS. Malabsorption of dietary folate (Pteroylpolyglutamates) in adult coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Br Med J 1970;4:85–9.

22. Di Stefano M, Jorizzo RA, Veneto G, et al. Bone mass and metabolism in dermatitis herpetiformis. Dig Dis Sci 1999;44:2139–43.

23. Capper WM, Butler TJ, Kilby JO, Gibson MJ. Gallstones, gastric secretion and flatulent dyspepsia. Lancet 1967;i:413–5.

24. Golan R. Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, 373–4.

25. Rawls WB, Ancona VC. Chronic urticaria associated with hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. Rev Gastroenterol 1951;18:267–71.

26. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Med J 1945;38:235–41.

27. Wright JV. Dr. Wright’s Guide to Healing with Nutrition. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1990, 155.

28. Hartung EF, Steinbroker O. Gastric acidity in chronic arthritis. Ann Intern Med 1935;9:252.

29. Francis HW. Achlorhydria as an etiological factor in vitiligo, with report of four cases. Nebraska State Med J 1931;16(1):25–6.

30. Kokkonen J, Simila S, Herva R. Impaired gastric function in children with cow’s milk intolerance. Eur J Pediatr 1979;132:1–6.

31. Gillespie M. Hypochlorhydria in asthma with specific reference to the age incidence. Q J Med 1935;4:397–405.

32. Fravel RC. The occurrence of hypochlorhydria in gall-bladder disease. Am J Med Sci 1920;159:512–7.

33. Centanni M, Gargano L, Canettieri G, et al. Thyroxine in goiter, Helicobacter pylori infection, and chronic gastritis. N Engl J Med2006;354:1787–95.

34. Centanni M, Gargano L, Canettieri G, et al. Thyroxine in goiter, Helicobacter pylori infection, and chronic gastritis. N Engl J Med2006;354:1787–95.

35. Centanni M, Gargano L, Canettieri G, et al. Thyroxine in goiter, Helicobacter pylori infection, and chronic gastritis. N Engl J Med2006;354:1787–95.

36. Centanni M, Gargano L, Canettieri G, et al. Thyroxine in goiter, Helicobacter pylori infection, and chronic gastritis. N Engl J Med2006;354:1787–95.

37. Murray MJ, Stein N. A gastric factor promoting iron absorption. Lancet 1968;1:614.

38. Russell RM, Krasinski SD, Samloff IM, et al. Correction of impaired folic acid (Pte Glu) absorption by orally administered HCl in subjects with gastric atrophy. Am J Clin Nutr 1984;39:656.

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