How much is too much Betaine HCL?

by 260 · December 19, 2013 at 04:23 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.

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11 Replies

4337 · 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.

3697 · 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.

18373 · 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.

0 · 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.

38 · 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.

20 · 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 · 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!!

0 · 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 · 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?

536 · 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.

2746 · 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: (sorry for the tnation link, not a t nation article just reposted there)

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