Betaine hydrochloride supplements provide additional hydrochloric acid for the stomach to assist in digestion and absorption of nutrients. Some naturopathic health practitioners advocate betaine HCL for many health disorders based on theories of the relationship of low stomach acid to health problems, according to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. No credible research has been published on the effectiveness of betaine HCL for treating health conditions, cautions the BIDMC.
Betaine HCL is used to treat a range of health problems, as noted by the BIDMC. Some of these disorders include asthma, hay fever, food allergies, candida overgrowth, digestive conditions, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A number of naturopathic doctors claim betaine HCL can heal ulcers and acid reflux, observes the BIDMC, as they believe low stomach acid causes incomplete digestion of proteins, resulting in negative reactions that cause ulcers and heartburn.
Betaine HCL is usually taken in doses from 325 mg to 650 mg with each meal, according to the BIDMC. Licensed acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner David Schlesinger recommends taking a combination of betaine HCL and pepsin supplement at the start of each meal. The Alternative Medicine Review Monographs from Thorne Research Inc., presented at the website of chiropractor Steven Kraskow, explains that health care practitioners usually advise taking hydrochloric acid supplements before or during a meal.
Although hydrochloric acid supplements can be taken during meals to treat stomach acid deficiency, these supplements might provide certain benefits when taken during meals, according to the Alternative Medicine Review Monographs. For instance, taking the supplements to resolve overgrowth of intestinal bacteria or fungus caused by low stomach acid may benefit from between-meal use. This method also can improve indican metabolism, a measure of the efficiency of protein digestion.
Supplementing hydrochloric acid to treat low stomach acid works by retraining the stomach to produce higher concentrations of the acid on its own, according to Schlesinger. You might need to use the supplement for several months, although some people improve significantly within several weeks. When betaine HCL starts causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms related to excess stomach acid, decrease your dosage until you no longer need the supplement.
People with ulcers or acid reflux should not take betaine HCL before consulting with a physician, cautions the BIDMC. Because of a lack of research, pregnant and breast-feeding women, younger children, and people with liver or kidney disease should not take this supplement. Do not confuse betaine HCL with betaine, technically known as trimethylglycine, or TMG. Although related, the two have different properties. Betaine occurs in some plant foods, but betaine HCL does not.