What is Betaine used for? A 2021 scientific review

What is it?

Betaine hydrochloride is a chemical substance made in a laboratory. It is used as medicine.

Betaine hydrochloride has an interesting history. Betaine hydrochloride used to be included in over-the-counter (OTC) products as a "stomach acidifier and digestive aid." But a federal law that went into effect in 1993 banned betaine hydrochloride from use in OTC products because there wasn't enough evidence to classify it "generally recognized as safe and effective." Betaine hydrochloride is now available only as a dietary supplement whose purity and strength can vary.

Betaine hydrochloride is also used to treat abnormally low levels of potassium (hypokalemia), high levels of the compound homocysteine in the blood, hay fever, "tired blood" (anemia), asthma, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis), yeast infections, diarrhea, food allergies, gallstones, inner ear infections, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and thyroid disorders. It is also used to protect the liver.

Don't confuse betaine hydrochloride with betaine anhydrous. Use only the FDA-approved betaine anhydrous product for the treatment of high levels of homocysteine in the urine (homocystinuria). This is a symptom of some rare genetic diseases.

Is it Effective?

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The Effectiveness ratings for Betaine Hydrochloride are as follows:
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
  • Anemia.
  • Asthma.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Food allergies.
  • Gallstones.
  • Hay fever.
  • "Hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
  • Increasing stomach acid..
  • Inner ear infection...
  • Low potassium.
  • Protecting the liver.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • Thyroid disorders.
  • Yeast infection.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of betaine hydrochloride for these uses.

How does it work?

In the stomach, betaine hydrochloride separates into betaine and hydrochloric acid. The hydrochloric acid increases stomach acid.

Are there safety concerns?

Betaine hydrochloride is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as a single dose. There isn't enough information to know if betaine hydrochloride is safe when taken in multiple doses. It might cause heartburn.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of betaine hydrochloride during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Peptic ulcer disease: Betaine hydrochloride can increase stomach acid. There is a concern that the hydrochloric acid produced from betaine hydrochloride might irritate stomach ulcers or keep them from healing.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Antacids

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk to your health provider.
Betaine hydrochloride increases stomach acid. Antacids are taken to decrease stomach acid. Taking betaine hydrochloride along with antacids might reduce the effects of antacids.

Medications that decrease stomach acid (H2-blockers)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk to your health provider.
Betaine hydrochloride increases stomach acid. H2-blockers are taken to decrease stomach acid. Taking betaine hydrochloride along with H2 blockers might reduce the effects of H2-blockers.

Medications that decrease stomach acid (Proton pump inhibitors)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk to your health provider.
Betaine hydrochloride increases stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors are taken to decrease stomach acid. Taking betaine hydrochloride along with proton pump inhibitors might reduce the effects of proton pump inhibitors.

Are there any interactions with Herbs and Supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with Foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of betaine hydrochloride depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for betaine hydrochloride. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

What other names is the product known by?

Acide Chlorhydrique de Bétaïne, Betaine, Bétaïne, Betaine Chlorhydrate, Betaine HCl, Bétaïne HCl, Betaine Hydrochloric Acid, Chlorhidrato de Betaína, Chlorhydrate de Bétaïne, Chlorhydrate de Triméthylglycine, Glycine Betaine Hydrochloric acid, TMG, Trimethyl Glycine, Trimethylglycine, Triméthylglycine, Trimethylglycine hydrochloride.

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