Betaine-HCL question for Rich Van K

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by equanimous, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. equanimous

    equanimous New Member

    This question is for Rich regarding some feedback/advice that he gave me about my methylation panel results. Rich, you mentioned that betaine-HCL could be helpful in aiding with digestion, and my doctor has also recommended that I supplement with this since I don't seem to be absorbing nutrients very well (really low protein levels despite normal consumption of protein, extremely low levels of magnesium, iron, coq10, etc.). So I was all set to go buy some, but then I read elsewhere on here that you recommend against taking betaine-HCL as it can interfere with the methylation protocol. Is this just a matter of dosing? If so, what would be a non-harmful dose that I could try? I know it's probably a somewhat small population, but of the people you've followed on the methylation protocol who've tried betaine-HCL, would you say that most of them had beneficial results or detrimental ones?

    Thanks so much for your time,
  2. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Liz.

    This is a question that I have not been able to totally resolve.

    Most PWCs do seem to have low stomach acid levels (as evaluated by the baking soda--burp test), and this does cause problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as survival of yeast and bacteria that come in with the food and are normally killed by stomach acid.

    I suspect that the cause of this in ME/CFS is either the mitochondrial dysfunction resulting from the glutathione depletion and the partial methylation cycle block, which makes it difficult for the parietal cells in the stomach to pump acid against the high concentration gradient that is normally present, or a zinc deficiency, or both. Zinc is needed both for gene expression of the proton pumps in these cells, and as a cofactor for the carbonic anhydrase enzyme there.

    Until these problems are corrected, there are some ways of augmenting the stomach acid to improve the digestion. The most common is betaine-HCl, which works well for many people. A potential problem with its use in ME/CFS, though, is that it stimulates the BHMT pathway in the liver and kidneys, and that pathway is parallel and sort of in competition with the methionine synthase pathway, which the methylation-type treatments are designed to stimulate. There hasn't been a good clinical test to see how much of a problem this could be.

    One way to deal with this is to add some DMG (dimethyglycine), which will inhibit the BHMT pathway. Dr. Yasko uses this approach to shift flow to the methionine synthase pathway.

    Another approach is to use the Allergy Research Group's diluted hydrochloric acid instead of betaine-HCl. This is diluted in order to prevent damage the throat or esophagus, but still be strong enough to help with the digestion.

    Still another approach is to use lemon juice with meals. If this is used, it's important to use a drinking straw and to flush the teeth with water afterward, to prevent chelation of calcium, which can damage the tooth enamel over time. An additional advantage to using lemon juice is that it will raise the pH of the urine, and that will help to remove toxins that are present in the body as weak acids. This seems paradoxical, but it works because the citric acid in the lemon juice is metabolized in the body, and the remaining sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are base-formers, and thus alkalinize the urine.

    Some people have reported that apple cider vinegar works for them. It is less acid than lemon juice.

    That's about the best I can do on this issue at this point.

    Best regards,

  3. equanimous

    equanimous New Member

    I've been taking the betaine HCL and digestive enzymes for about a week now, and I haven't had any problems with them so far, which is fabulous because I react badly to a lot of things. It's probably too early to tell, but I think that they're helping me absorb nutrients better and giving me more energy.
  4. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Liz.

    That's good to hear. I appreciate your reporting on this. I'd like to hear from more people about this. Low stomach acid seems to be present in many cases of CFS, as determined by the baking soda--burp test, and betaine-HCl is probably the most convenient way to deal with it until the parietal cells can be brought back up to normal acid production. If betaine-HCl really doesn't slow the correction of the partial methylation cycle block, it would be very good to know, and it would be helpful to a lot of people.

    Best regards,

  5. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    My stomach acid was shown to be low by a couple of blood tests last spring. I had been taking a low dose of hcl prior to then but after the tests tripled what I had been taking. I also started taking it about 1/2 hour prior to a meal, on the advice of my doctor. I think it has improved my digestion, although I have not been been retested.

    re the methylation protocol - I recently restarted it after a hiatus of around 6 or 7 months and was very surprised to find that I am tolerating the supplements better than before. I don't feel as sick on them, am not detoxing as much. I am assuming that either my level of toxins has finally dropped, or my body is working better, or a combination of both. Maybe. I just never really know what's going on.

    Also, my CFS crashes are now lighter, I'm recovering more quickly from them, but unfortunately I still crash just as easily. So my stamina has really not increased, but I recover more quickly. I'm still limited to about 3 hours of light activity a day (errands, light housekeeping, but nothing strenuous) to avoid crashing the next day.

    Because of holidays and a doctor appt etc., I won't be able to do the methylation protocol for an extended period without interruption until after Christmas (e.g., I stopped a week ago so I'd feel the best I could for Thanksgiving).

    Anyways, I am really curious to see what, if anything, will happen when I'm able to do the protocol without interruption for several weeks, especially since I am tolerating it better now.

    In any event, I don't think the hcl is hurting me in regard to my methylation cycle, and perhaps has contributed to the progress I've made.

  6. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Mary.

    Thank you for the update and the information on your experience with betaine HCl.

    I hope you will respond well when you resume the methylation treatment.

    Best regards,


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