Betaine hydrochloride has an interesting history. Betaine hydrochloride used to be included in over-the-counter (OTC) products as a “stomach acidifier and digestive aid.” But a federal law that went into effect in 1993 banned betaine hydrochloride from use in OTC products because there wasn’t enough evidence to classify it “generally recognized as safe and effective.” Betaine hydrochloride is now available only as a dietary supplement whose purity and strength can vary. Promoters still claim that some health conditions are due to inadequate stomach acid, but this claim has not been proven. Even if it were true, betaine hydrochloride wouldn’t help. It only delivers hydrochloric acid but does not itself alter stomach acidity.
Betaine hydrochloride is also used to treat abnormally low levels of potassium (hypokalemia), hay fever, “tired blood” (anemia), asthma, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), yeast infections, diarrhea, food allergies, gallstones, inner ear infections, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and thyroid disorders. It is also used to protect the liver.
Don’t confuse betaine hydrochloride with betaine anhydrous. Use only the FDA-approved betaine anhydrous product for the treatment of high levels of homocysteine in the urine (homocystinuria). This is a symptom of some rare genetic diseases.
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