Dear Dr. Roach: I started taking betaine hydrochloride for my digestive health. I have had some ongoing issues, and my sister, the wellness guru, has been sharing some things she has learned and suggested this to me. In the first week I have noticed a difference. My wonderful partner, who is always skeptical, is wondering if there is true value with this supplement, so we are turning to you for some insight. J.Y.
Answer: Betaine hydrochloride has several purported uses. One is to improve athletic performance; however, the data are mixed about whether it is effective at improving muscle strength and endurance.
It also is used to relieve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and functional dyspepsia, a nonspecific term encompassing several types of stomach upset.