Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is the primary digestive juice responsible for breaking down proteins in the stomach. Furthermore, it creates a protective barrier, killing many potentially harmful micro-organisms in food, according to Dr. Baroody in his book, "Alkalinize or Die." When it combines with food, it helps to eliminate acid-forming substances from bodily tissues and assist in their becoming neutralized by pancreatic secretion of bicarbonate further down the alimentary canal, thereby creating an alkaline state in the body. However, too much HCL can have unpleasant side effects.Want to improve your health? Learn more about LIVESTRONG.COM's nutrition and fitness program!
Side effects are seldom seen when using betaine hydrochloric acid according to directions, according to the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, but it has not been through rigorous safety studies, so the full range of its actions are still unknown. According to Health 2000, excessive amounts of betaine hydrochloride can burn the lining of the stomach, causing occasional nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well as peptic ulcers and other related gastrointestinal conditions. They recommend that HCI be discontinued if a burning sensation is experienced at any time during use.
There were no well-known drug interactions with betaine hydrochloride. For those using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) or any cortisone-like medication, or any type of medication likely to cause a peptic ulcer, HCL should be avoided, according to Health2000.
A health care provider should be consulted by anyone with a history of ulcers, chronic gastritis or gastrointestinal symptoms, especially heartburn, before using HCI. No one should take more than 10 grains (650 mg) without a physician's recommendation. If burning pains are experienced, betaine hydrochloride should be immediately stopped. Young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease should use caution and seek the advice of a trained health care practitioner familiar with its use.