Betaine HCL

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Betaine HCl is the most common form of supplemental hydrochloric acid administered to treat hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria (low or no gastric acidity). Administration of HCl activates pepsinogen to pepsin conversion, stimulates flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes, facilitates nutrient absorption, and prevents bacterial and fungal over growth. There are a variety of diseases and physiological malfunctions associated with low gastric acidity, and HCl supplementation continues to be prescribed as a primary treatment option.[1]



Article NAFLD, Clinical application of betaine and L-carnitine, IHP, [1], June/July 2011
  • Hypochlorhydria is the reduction in gastric acid levels with a corresponding elevation of stomach pH. Known causes of hypochlorhydria include type A gastritis (autoimmune) and type B gastritis (environmental). This can lead to bacterial overgrowth, malabsorption of some nutrients, and GERD like symptoms. Supplementation with Betain HCl is the most effective way of re-acidifying the stomach. [2]

Decreased levels of stomach acid and elevated stomach pH has been found in the following diseases:

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established.

Betaine HCl is generally prescribed using the patient titration method. Patients are instructed to consume one betaine HCl pill before each meal on day 1. The dose is increased by 1 pill each day until either a dose of 6 pills is reached or a warming sensation is found in the stomach. Once the warm sensation is felt the patient's dose is one pill less than the dose that produced the warmth (ex. if warm sensation was felt with 3 pills the patient's dose is 2 pills). [2]


  • Contraindications:
  • Those with gastric ulcers, on long term NSAID therapy, or taking prednisone should not be prescribed Betaine HCl. Those with severe atrophic gastritis should be treated with caution.
  • Drug Interactions
  • None are known.[3]
  • Nutrient Interactions
  • High betaine intake may decrease the amount of nutrients needed for optimal nutrition such as folate, choline, and methionine.[4]


  1. Kelly, GS (1997) Hypochloric Acid: Physiological Functions and Clinical Implications. Alt Med Rev;2(2):116-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Prousky, Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition, CCNM Press.
  3. Betaine Hydrochloride. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
  4. Gaby AR (2011) Nutritional Medicine, Fritz Perlberg Publishing.