3

votes

How much is too much Betaine HCL?

Commented on January 30, 2016
Created September 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Lately I have been suffering from horrible, almost constant heartburn - that occurs both with an empty and full stomach. I have started Betaine-HCL and NOW Superfoods, and definitely experience relief, especially when taking the former. However, despite taking up to 10 pills at one time (now I take usually 2-3 with meals) I have never experienced that warm feeling I have read about. Is it possible my stomach is too low to even feel any warmth at 10 pills? Should I resume taking very high amounts of this? or could there be another issue? Any ideas? I also suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, eczema, and acne.

Af9e23fd927bacc1ad31e83db69f454e

on December 19, 2013
at 04:23 PM

That's funny, I recently saw someone named "Char" post something similar to this post recently for another question. Although the details were not the same (i.e. amount of pills taken and when). Is this a real person?

Aff97e82eccef9d957abdd7317f72457

(180)

on October 19, 2012
at 08:21 AM

how many MG per meal are you taking?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I've changed my view on this since I wrote it. I still don't think there is evidence for widespread stomach acid deficiency, as proponents of the low-acid theory claim. That said, it could still be the acid that is helping. Perhaps, acid before a meal is not confronted with buffering bile salts, with the result that the small intestine is exposed to lower ph than would be typical from a meal- and perhaps it is this acid wash kills bacterial overgrowth. Seems possible since kombucha seems wot work just as well for me, if not better, as betaine HCL.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78407)

on September 16, 2011
at 07:40 AM

Great discussion. +1 for Cannabis. On related note, if AH is problematic, taking Choline + Piracetam will boost it up for sure.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78407)

on September 16, 2011
at 07:39 AM

+1 for Cannabis.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78407)

on September 16, 2011
at 07:36 AM

Sounds reasonable. Low acid means higher bacterial content means ulcers means damaged epithelium means more acid will do harm.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 16, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Thanks -- that's my own theory. Could be total crap but I like it. Better than the low-acid theory which seems definitely wrong.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 16, 2011
at 01:24 AM

No idea. Thanks!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:46 PM

Everything that I've read about Betaine says that you should wait until your heartburn is under control and your esophagus is back in good working order before taking it. However, if you are feeling relief it may be due to some other mechanism like the "esophageal tightening via acetylcholine" that Jay spoke to in his answer.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:44 PM

Interesting take on the reasons why betaine is effective. I haven't heard of anyone taking the "acetylcholine angle" before. Definitely worthy of further investigation AND upvoted!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:42 PM

I don't see why your comment would warrant a downvote, so I'm upvoting in protest.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:35 PM

There seems to be some rampant downvoting here without explanation, what's up?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:52 PM

What about my answer warrants a downvote, I wonder? A comment would be nice.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:50 PM

Agree with this -- see my post for another reason why betaine HCL might work that has nothing to do with low stomach acid.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:43 PM

Heartburn sucks! I am so sorry you are going through this. My nutritionist was very clear that I needed to heal my gut before adding the betaine. She had me do a month of aloe juice before starting. I think your heartburn may an exaggerated form of the "warm feeling" people speak of, you just have rawness from GERD so it burns more. I used to get heartburn if I took more than I needed. Does it cease if you stop or decrease the betaine to 1 capsule?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:35 PM

ROB, it didn't, but, I didn't take it very long, because one capsule was giving a burn, which is supposed to indicate it's not needed.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:34 PM

Ah, well, scratch that theory, then, Kristen.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3531)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Did HCL improve your rosacea??

Cad33a3c7874ebf0f6885e9a8d1d22a3

(260)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:52 PM

I've been taking the capsules.

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14 Answers

4
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:34 PM

There are three things that cause reflux in my opinion.

  1. Weak connective tissue that leads to a hiatal hernia. Pure speculation, but I would eat more copper, zinc, gelatin, magnesium, fat soluble vitamins (especially vitamin K).

  2. Upwards pressure from colonic fermentation of indigestible fiber (the short chain fatty acids seem to act like a signal to slow down digestion, probably to give the body time to extract all those extra fermentable calories). Google FODMAPS. They cause GERD, from 5-15 hours after meal time. Limit them and you will have no GERD!

  3. Weak lower esophageal sphincter pressure. This is a matter of wear after a period of stress (e.g., the day after you eat a lot of FODMAPS) or have been awake for a long time. Protein tightens the LES, ice does too, calcium carbonate too. Fat weakens it, so does peppermint. The LES is also under central nervous system control. So, marijuana helps. More importantly, certain other neurotransmitters may help. Some of them have cardiac complications - that's why neurotransmitters are NOT a common therapeutic target for GERD. That said, acetylcholine increases LES pressure, which is important because... betaine may upregulate acetylcholine, leading me to my last point:

If betaine HCL does help GERD, there are other plausible mechanism that have nothing to do with the HCL or pepsin in it. In particular... the betaine! Since betaine may upregulate acetylcholine which tightens the lower esophageal sphincter, the effect on acetlycholine may account for the benefit that some people experience (especially since most people report relief don't after until at least a few days to weeks of pill popping - they are filling up bodily stores of acetylcholine in thta time). Instead of betaine HCL, perhaps you should just eat eggs, liver, and heart or spinach and wheat bran, if you digest them well.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:44 PM

Interesting take on the reasons why betaine is effective. I haven't heard of anyone taking the "acetylcholine angle" before. Definitely worthy of further investigation AND upvoted!

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 16, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Thanks -- that's my own theory. Could be total crap but I like it. Better than the low-acid theory which seems definitely wrong.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78407)

on September 16, 2011
at 07:39 AM

+1 for Cannabis.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78407)

on September 16, 2011
at 07:40 AM

Great discussion. +1 for Cannabis. On related note, if AH is problematic, taking Choline + Piracetam will boost it up for sure.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I've changed my view on this since I wrote it. I still don't think there is evidence for widespread stomach acid deficiency, as proponents of the low-acid theory claim. That said, it could still be the acid that is helping. Perhaps, acid before a meal is not confronted with buffering bile salts, with the result that the small intestine is exposed to lower ph than would be typical from a meal- and perhaps it is this acid wash kills bacterial overgrowth. Seems possible since kombucha seems wot work just as well for me, if not better, as betaine HCL.

2
Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

on September 15, 2011
at 07:46 PM

I'm skeptical about the idea that most people have low stomach acid and that taking HCl caplets until you feel a warm feeling is a solution. Poliquin seems to be disconnected from most of the science behind gastroenterology:

http://tnation.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/rebuttal_to_charles_poliquins_article_on_stomach_acid_ (sorry for the tnation link, not a t nation article just reposted there)

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:50 PM

Agree with this -- see my post for another reason why betaine HCL might work that has nothing to do with low stomach acid.

1
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:02 PM

I take Betain HCL as well with meals. I am down to about 2-3 250 mg capsules with each meals, and sometimes 4 if I am going to have a larger, more protein dense meal (e.g. a big steak). I find that the warmth gets created if I take the capsules approximately 5 minutes before eating the meal than if I take them right before. I've also noticed the warmth if I take them a few minutes after I have finished eating. One other observation is that the warmth is more noticeable/easier to come by at breakfast than at dinner.

All I can advise is to experiment with timing and dosage. I would advise that you be careful with the dosage. Ultimately, your goal is to reduce GERD and improve digestion. If you think that occurs with 3 pills despite not having a warm feeling, then stay at 3.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:39 PM

Are you taking tablets or capsules?

I tried this once, and my experience was that taking 10 tablets did nothing, but taking a single capsule created the warmth.

Interesting that you got relief without feeling that, though. My issue wasn't heartburn, but rosacea, so I didn't have any direct feedback like that. I guess if it's giving you relief, then the warmth doesn't really matter.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:35 PM

ROB, it didn't, but, I didn't take it very long, because one capsule was giving a burn, which is supposed to indicate it's not needed.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 16, 2011
at 01:24 AM

No idea. Thanks!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:34 PM

Ah, well, scratch that theory, then, Kristen.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:35 PM

There seems to be some rampant downvoting here without explanation, what's up?

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3531)

on September 15, 2011
at 08:09 PM

Did HCL improve your rosacea??

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 15, 2011
at 10:42 PM

I don't see why your comment would warrant a downvote, so I'm upvoting in protest.

Cad33a3c7874ebf0f6885e9a8d1d22a3

(260)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:52 PM

I've been taking the capsules.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18676)

on September 15, 2011
at 09:52 PM

What about my answer warrants a downvote, I wonder? A comment would be nice.

0
712def473b8ab23f0cc1c84718856f04

on June 30, 2015
at 01:04 PM

hi.  I have leaky gut, digestive issues and thyroid issues and have not eaten any starch, bean, sugar , starchy vegetable or store made dairy product since dec 8 of 2008.  Really. I drinkk only water.   I have tried all sorts of things to help my stomach acid but reamined bloated until....  I follow paleo and GAPS.  I have sauer kraut juice before each and every meal and snack and that helped somewhat and then I tried apple cider vineagar before each and every meal and I just couldn't stand to keep doing that after about a year and I mean steadily doing it for a year.  I was worried it could ruin my teeth.  The last thing I tried was HCL.  Thsi was in january.  I noticed that the bloating  went down a bit when I tried 6 caps, and it got better when I took 8 and finally, the bloating went away when I took 10.  I have literally been using 10 capsules of HCL with pepsin at every meal ( meat/fish and veggies and snack ( 2 tablespoons of raw nut butter)  I still feel no burning.  I started this in january.  My hairdresser told me that my hair is growing in faster, we noticed other things-like that my hair has a bit of oil after not for 7 years, etc.  I am finally now digesting my food.  I am working with bone broth and probiotics and trust that at some point I will feel warmth in my stomach at a meal or snack and then I will slowly dial it back to 9 caps, then 8  all the way to none.  The other thing that happened with the hcl caps was that I suddenly left constipation behind.  I have had that since 2004.  For me, nothing else suplemented my stomach acid and ended my constipation but the hcl and it is 10 caps per meal.  I should buy stock in the company that makes this.  I use Betaine HCL Pepsin - 250 Vegetable Capsules by Pure Encapsulations.  EAch of our bodies is so different.  You just need to listen to what you need.

209673fe4e02e1e7b9c47a4b44dbb486

on January 30, 2016
at 03:02 AM

I could have written this post because I am doing everything you have written and for the same reasons leaky gut, autoimmune thyroid etc. I am glad to find your post bc there has been nothing so far to get me to use the bathroom a normal amount per day. I only recently decided to try Betaine hcl and I hope it works for me as it obviously had for you! Paleo and Gaps isn't the whole answer at this point, but helpful and probably will see more positives over the long haul.

712def473b8ab23f0cc1c84718856f04

(0)

on June 30, 2015
at 01:06 PM

by the way, I take them before my meal to get my food to digest.  And I have not had any bloating with a meal or snack since january when I was up to 10 capsules.  My goal was digestion and letting go of constipation and this worked for my body.

0
Ae48a0d4763b5807b8a1de68f19a09d8

on June 23, 2015
at 02:35 PM

Again, at meals when you are consuming much protein (e.g., a steak), not at bedtime. If you take it at bedtime, it's main job becomes digesting you instead of food

0
Ec83f706929cfb07c4b702ba21b2aae6

on December 10, 2014
at 10:04 AM

Hi people

this is an interesting comment page....

i have no acid at all, which some of you may have.....

Breakfast I have 16 tablets, lunch 18 ,dinner 22.... Never more than 6 at a time 1/2 hour apart...

even 6 with a cup of coffee....now I mix 50/50 capsules and solid tablets to vary the dissolve rate...

If I don't I wake with headache and lethergy, sore joints..................

Marcus 

Australia

0
5da9c6b358b185f0df451e7c70940881

on September 27, 2013
at 06:30 PM

I just started hcl. I took 1capsal with every meal and 1 at bed time. I ended up with really bad heartburn in the night. Any thoughts? Should I continue upping my dose or is this just not going to work for me. The reason I started HCl is because I've got extreme bloating, constipation and hair loss. Every now and again I'll get that egg burps extremely bad stomachache and throwing up.

Bcb23cd6ca536aef59ea877045f56011

on June 29, 2015
at 03:10 PM

Only take HCL with a protien meal, never on an empty stomach before bed.

0
47f122f79d7c90df40b26a8e4480fb8a

on August 09, 2013
at 04:39 AM

Article from Chris Kresser:

"In Dr. Wright’s clinic, most patients end up at a dose of 5-7 650 mg capsules. In my more limited experience, 3-4 capsules is the norm."

I get the warm sensation after 4 x 650mg tablets so have 3 with every meal.

0
Fb5cfcaa9cf740ffbfeaf98485c7a4af

on August 09, 2013
at 01:24 AM

I have had GERD for 3 years and picked up some Betaine with pepsin (650mg of betaine). I took one with dinner and within 15 mins of eating I burped up the betaine and my throat was burned and I couldn't quit coughing...I had to take a tums :(. Does this mean I am not taking enough or I am just sensitive to it?

0
34201e3a9d3f0ec455f35c06c73843cc

on October 19, 2012
at 04:22 AM

I've taken Bettaine HCL w/ Pepsin in the past and I am taking it now (9 capsules morning and evening). My digestion was awful!! It takes a few days for the B-HCL to kick in. I always have to exceed the dosage (way beyond protocol) in order for it to work. I exceed the amount because when taking it as directed, there is no effect. I take a handful of supplements and herbs - so without B-HCL, nothing gets absorbed. I feel a "slight" burning in my stomach that lasts for only about 5 minutes. That's when I know it's working. My BM's are normal (1-2 times per day-every other day) and there's no more ongoing burping. The gas has decreased a whole lot and I'm also seeing the positive effects in my skin and hair. I can't go by any research, I just go by results! Everyone is different and what works for some, might not work for others and vice versa. I just love the slight "burning" sensation because it's telling me that it's working and I see great results! The burning isn't uncomfortable at all. I take more when I eat heavy proteins and make sure that I take it right before taking my supplements or eating my food. It works for me!!

Aff97e82eccef9d957abdd7317f72457

(180)

on October 19, 2012
at 08:21 AM

how many MG per meal are you taking?

Af9e23fd927bacc1ad31e83db69f454e

on December 19, 2013
at 04:23 PM

That's funny, I recently saw someone named "Char" post something similar to this post recently for another question. Although the details were not the same (i.e. amount of pills taken and when). Is this a real person?

0
8b7336876b8456903adff7f7061cf411

on February 12, 2012
at 09:26 AM

Don't discount that acetylcholine link if kombucha is working for you. Guess what: compounds in kombucha stimulate acetylcholine production. Surprise!

0
C8b3837ee3a38cb2b0d284f21224fa92

on January 30, 2012
at 06:05 AM

To the person who stated they don't get the burning sensation: I am experiencing the same thing but I still have very bad heartburn despite taking full doses of beatine for 3 weeks. Did you ever experience the burning/ warmth. How long after you started the beatine did you get relief rom your symptoms?

0
B4313b18cc03036a6147543d7b0872d6

(566)

on September 15, 2011
at 07:52 PM

If I recall correctly, Robb Wolf recommends taking no more that 6 NOW Foods caps at a meal, even if you don't get the warmth.

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