Betaine Hydrochloride

Betaine hydrochloride is an acidic form of betaine, a vitamin-like substance found in grains and other foods. Betaine hydrochloride is recommended by some doctors as a supplemental source of hydrochloric acid for people who have a deficiency of stomach acid production (hypochlorhydria).

Betaine is also known as trimethylglycine, N-trimethylglycine, glycine betaine, glycocoll betaine, oxyneurine and lycine. Its chemical name is 1-carboxy-N,N,N-trimethylmethanaminium inner salt. Betaine is very soluble in water and has a sweet taste. It is widely distributed in plants and animals. The hydrochloride of betaine is known as betaine hydrochloride, betaine HCL and pluchine. Its chemical name is 1-carboxy-N,N,N-trimethylmethanaminium chloride. The pH of a 5% aqueous solution of betaine hydrochloride is 1. Betaine hydrochloride is basically a digestive aid for people with insufficient levels of gastric acid in their stomachs. This insufficiency can be caused by poor nutrition, dehydration, stress, onset of the menopause in women, or just old age. Betaine is absorbed from the small intestines into the enterocytes. It is released by the enterocytes into the portal circulation which carries it to the liver where there is significant first-pass extraction and first-pass metabolism of betaine. The principal metabolic reaction is the transfer of a methyl group from betaine to homocysteine via the enzyme betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase. The products of the reaction are L-methionine and dimethylglycine. Betaine hydrochloride is converted to betaine in the alkaline environment of the small intestine.

Betaine hydrochloride is a source of hydrochloric acid, a naturally occurring chemical in the stomach that helps us digest food by breaking up fats and proteins. Stomach acid also aids in the absorption of nutrients through the walls of the intestines into the blood and protects the gastrointestinal tract from harmful bacteria. A major branch of alternative medicine known as naturopathy has long held that low stomach acid is a widespread problem that interferes with digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Betaine hydrochloride is one of the most common recommendations for this condition (along with the more folksy apple cider vinegar). Betaine is also sold by itself, without the hydrochloride molecule attached. In this form, it is called trimethylglycine (TMG). TMG is not acidic, but recent evidence suggests that it may provide certain health benefits of its own (for more information, see TMG).

Based on theories about the importance of stomach acid, betaine has been recommended for a wide variety of problems, including anemia, asthma, atherosclerosis, diarrhea, excess candida yeast, food allergies, gallstones, hay fever and allergies, inner ear infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid conditions. When one sees such broadly encompassing uses, it is not surprising to find that there is as yet no real scientific research on its effectiveness for any of these conditions. Many naturopathic physicians also believe that betaine hydrochloride can heal conditions such as ulcers and esophageal reflux (heartburn). This sounds paradoxical, since conventional treatment for those conditions involves reducing stomach acid, while betaine hydrochloride increases it. However, according to one theory, lack of stomach acid leads to incomplete digestion of proteins, and these proteins cause allergic reactions and other responses that lead to an increase in ulcer pain. Again, scientific evidence is lacking.

CAS No.: 590-46-5
Chemical Formula: (CH3)3NCl-CH2COOH
Molecular Weight:153.62
Synonyms: 1-Carboxy-N,N,N-trimethylmethanaminium, chloride; Betaine Chloride; Betaine HCL