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Betaine anhydrous

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Also listed as: Betaine
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Attribution

Related Terms
  • 1-carboxy-N,N,N-trimethyl-Methanaminium, 2-(trimethylammonio)ethanoic acid, abromine, alpha-earleine, betaine, betaine glucuronate, BetaPureTM, BreathRX®, (carboxymethyl)trimethylammonium hydroxide inner salt, cocamidopropyl betaine, Cystadane®, glycine, glycine betaine, glycocoll betaine, glycylbetaine, hydroxide, inner salt, Ietepar®, lycine, methanaminium1-carboxy-N,N,N-trimethyl, Octenisept®, oxyneurine, Physiogel AI®, Protosan®, Tego® Betain, TMG, trimethylammonioacetate trimethylbetaine, trimethylglycine, trimethylglycocoll, Xeros Dentaid®.
  • Selected combination product: Ietepar® (betaine glucuronate, diethanolamine glucuronate, nicotinamide ascorbate), Octenisept® (0.1% octenidine, 2% 2-phenoxyethanol, cocamidopropyl betaine), Protosan® (betaine surfactant plus polyhexanide), BreathRX® (aqua, sorbitol, propylene glycol, PEG-40, hydrogenated castor oil, polaxamer 407, xylitol, aroma (mint, thymol, and eucalyptus oil), zinc gluconate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cetylpyridinium chloride, sodium saccharin, citric acid, and Cl 42090), Xeros Dentaid® (1.33% betaine, 3.30% xylitol, and 0.05% sodium fluoride), Physiogel AI® (0.3% N-palmitoylethanolamine, 0.21% N-acetylethanolamine, 0.36% betaine, and 0.24% sarcosine).
  • Note: This bottom line covers betaine anhydrous, which should not be confused with betaine hydrochloride.

Background
  • Betaine is found in most microbes, plants, and marine animals. Its main functions are to protect cells under stress and support important body functions and processes. Betaine is also found naturally in many foods and is highly present in beets, spinach, grain, and shellfish.
  • Betaine has been used to treat homocystinuria, a genetic disorder in which the body cannot properly break down certain amino acids. Betaine may reduce levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream, a potential risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. The effects of betaine may be stronger in people who are not taking B vitamin supplements.
  • Betaine is thought to benefit both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, further research is needed in this area.
  • Betaine alone or with other treatments has been studied for bad breath, dry mouth, exercise performance, birth control, acid reflux, liver inflammation, brain development disorders, skin damage from the sun, weight loss, and wound care. Further studies are needed before these uses can be supported. Early research suggests that betaine may lack effect on heart disease or high cholesterol in people without high levels of homocysteine.
  • A form of betaine called cocamidopropyl, which is found in some skin care products, may cause allergic skin reactions. This form of betaine has been studied for use in toothpastes for dry mouth, ulcers, and other irritations.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Betaine has been used to treat homocystinuria, a genetic disorder in which the body cannot break down some amino acids. Betaine may help improve high levels of homocysteine (a risk factor for heart disease) in children.

A


Homocystinuria is a severe form of a genetic disorder in which there is a very high level of homocysteine in the bloodstream, a risk factor for heart disease. Betaine may benefit people who have severely high homocysteine levels due to genetics, in combination with other vitamins and diet changes. Further studies are needed to determine whether betaine may lower heart disease risk in the general population.

B


Overall, betaine has been shown to significantly reduce homocysteine levels by as much as 20 percent. Lower homocysteine levels have been associated with a 20-30 percent reduction in heart disease risk in some people. Further research is needed to determine the effects of betaine in people with nutrient deficiency and its possible effectiveness for lowering the risk of some chronic diseases, such as stroke or cancer.

B


Studies suggest that treating high homocysteine levels with agents such as betaine may help improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. More high-quality research is needed to confirm these findings.

B


A supplement containing melatonin, L-tryptophan, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, methionine, and betaine has been found to reduce symptoms of acid reflux disease. However, the effects of betaine alone are unclear from this study. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


The use of mouthwash containing cocamidopropyl betaine has been found to reduce bad breath. However, the effects of cocamidopropyl betaine alone are unclear. Further research is needed before firm conclusions may be made.

C


A gel containing betaine has been found to be effective as a form of birth control. However, the effects of betaine alone are unclear. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


A mouthwash containing betaine, xylitol, and sodium fluoride has been found to help improve saliva flow. However, a night guard was found to be more effective at improving dry mouth symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing. In other research, dry mouth products containing olive oil, betaine, and xylitol reduced dry mouth symptoms and improved quality of life. The effects of betaine alone are unclear from these studies. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Treatment with betaine may improve body composition, arm size, work capacity for bench press, power, fatigue, and protein synthesis after exercise. However, it was found to lack a significant effect on strength. Evidence is mixed. Further studies are needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Hyperhomocysteinemia is a complication found in 80 percent of cases of late-stage, severe kidney failure, and may increase the risk of clogged arteries in these people. Betaine has been studied in combination with folic acid in this population. A lack of further benefit of betaine has been found among people who take folic acid and vitamin B6 in much greater amounts than the daily recommended intake. More research is needed.

C


A combination treatment containing betaine has been found to benefit people with hepatitis C who did not respond to standard treatment. However, the effects of betaine alone are unclear. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Betaine has been studied in combination with other vitamins for people who have nervous system development disorders. However, a lack of effect has been found, and the potential effect of betaine alone is unclear. More research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Treatment with a skin cream containing betaine has been found to significantly reduce the development of skin redness when applied for at least one month before to exposure to sunlight. However, the effect of betaine alone is unclear. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


There is limited evidence that betaine reduces body weight in humans. More high-quality studies should be conducted in this area.

C


Treatment of long-term wounds using a combination of betaine and polyhexanide appeared to reduce odor and contamination. However, the effects of betaine alone are unclear. Further research is needed before conclusions may be made.

C


Betaine has been found to lack benefit in people with coronary artery disease. Studies suggest that betaine may increase cholesterol levels and may also increase the risk of heart disease. According to this limited evidence, betaine may have negative effects on heart health. However, further research is needed to confirm these results.

D


Limited evidence suggests that betaine increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This may offset any benefits on heart disease risk received through lowering homocysteine levels.

F
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Alcoholic liver disease, Alzheimer's disease, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, chest pain, clogged arteries, colorectal adenoma (benign tumor in the colon), coronary artery disease, digestion, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, heart failure, hemolytic uremic syndrome (a digestive infection that causes kidney problems), high blood sugar/glucose intolerance, hormone related problems, immune stimulation, kidney function, memory improvement, mental performance, phenylketonuria (disorder in which the body cannot break down phenylalanine), sexual arousal, shortness of breath, stroke.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • General: Currently, there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) set by the United States Food and Nutrition Board for betaine. Manufacturers recommend that betaine powder be dissolved in water, juice, milk, or formula prior to administration and be administered in two doses of 3 grams each.
  • For heart disease in people with homocystinuria, 2-15 grams of betaine have been taken by mouth daily for up to 17 years.
  • For high cholesterol levels, 1.5-6 grams of betaine has been taken by mouth daily for six weeks to six months, with a lack of benefit.
  • For heart disease in people without high homocysteine levels, 3 grams of betaine has been taken by mouth twice daily for six weeks, with a lack of benefit.
  • For exercise performance, 2-5 grams of betaine has been taken by mouth (as capsules or mixed with juice) daily for up to six weeks.
  • For high homocysteine levels, 0.5-6 grams of betaine (often mixed with orange juice) has been taken by mouth daily for up to six months.
  • For high homocysteine levels in people with severe kidney failure, 4-6 grams of betaine has been taken by mouth in two divided doses daily for up to three months.
  • For non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Cystadane® has been taken by mouth in doses of up to 20 grams daily for up to one year.
  • For weight loss, 3 grams of betaine mixed with orange juice has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks, with lack of benefit.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • For homocystinuria in children aged 6-14 years, 250 milligrams per kilogram of betaine has been taken by mouth daily for 3-6 months.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to betaine anhydrous or other forms of betaine (including cocamidopropyl betaine).
  • Allergic skin reactions (including on the face and lips) have been reported with exposure to betaine.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Betaine is likely safe in people with high homocysteine levels (caused by a problem with the cystathionine beta-synthase gene) at levels of 6 grams daily for up to 17 years.
  • Betaine is possibly safe in people who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease at levels of 20 grams daily for up to one year.
  • Betaine may cause body odor, diarrhea, increased cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels, low folate levels, mental changes, nausea, stomach and intestine irritation, upset stomach, and vomiting.
  • Use cautiously in people who have heart disease (such as coronary artery disease), high cholesterol, low folate levels, and stomach or intestine conditions, or those taking cholesterol-lowering agents.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to betaine anhydrous or other forms of betaine (including cocamidopropyl betaine).

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of betaine during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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