Betaine Anhydrous

Other Name(s):

2(N,N,N-trimethyl)ammonium-acetate, Betaína Anhidra, Bétaïne Anhydre, Betaine Anhydrous, Bétaïne de Glycine, Bétaïne de Glycocoll, Cystadane, Glycine Betaine, Glycocoll Betaine, Glycylbetaine, Lycine, Oxyneurine, TMG, Trimethyl Glycine, Trimethylbetaine, Trimethylglycine, Trimethylglycine Anhydre, Trimethylglycine Anhydrous.


Betaine anhydrous is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body, and can also be found in foods such as beets, spinach, cereals, seafood, and wine.

Betaine anhydrous is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of high urine levels of a chemical called homocysteine (homocystinuria) in people with certain inherited disorders. High homocysteine levels are associated with heart disease, weak bones (osteoporosis), skeletal problems, and eye lens problems.

Betaine anhydrous is also used for treating high blood homocysteine levels, liver disease, depression, osteoarthritis, congestive heart failure (CHF), and obesity; for boosting the immune system; and for improving athletic performance. It is also used for preventing noncancerous tumors in the colon (colorectal adenomas).

Topically, betaine anhydrous is used as an ingredient in toothpastes to reduce the symptoms of dry mouth.

How does it work?

A form of betaine called betaine anhydrous helps in the metabolism of homocysteine, a chemical involved in the normal function of many different parts of the body, including blood, bones, eyes, heart, nerves, and the brain. Betaine anhydrous prevents the buildup of homocysteine seen in people who have problems with its metabolism from birth.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Effective for...

  • High homocysteine levels in the urine (homocystinuria). Taking betaine anyhydrous lowers homocysteine levels. Betaine anhydrous is FDA approved for treating this condition.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Dry mouth. Using betaine anhydrous in a toothpaste seems to reduce symptoms of dry mouth. Also, using a specific mouthwash (Xeros Dentaid) containing betaine anhydrous, xylitol, and sodium fluoride can improve dry mouth symptoms.
  • High homocysteine levels in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia). Some research shows that supplementation with betaine anhydrous can decrease homocysteine levels in the blood of some but not all people. However, it is not clear if this also decreases heart disease risk. Taking betaine anhydrous might also lower homocysteine levels in the blood in people with kidney failure. However, betaine anhydrous does not seem to increase the homocysteine-lowering effects of folate in people with kidney failure.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Genetic disorder that causes intellectual disability (Angelman syndrome). Some research suggests that taking betaine anhydrous (Cystadane, Rare Disease Therapetics, Inc.) or betaine anhydrous together with folate, folic acid, creatine, and/or vitamin B12 does not prevent seizures or improve mental function in children with Angelman syndrome.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Noncancerous tumors in the colon and rectum (colorectal adenomas). Some research suggests that taking betaine anhydrous is not linked with a reduced risk of developing colorectal adenomas.
  • Exercise performance. Some research suggests that betaine might improve certain aspects of exercise performance, including body composition and strength, in experienced men who participate in strength training. However, betaine does not seem to improve strength in untrained men. Also, betaine does not appear to improve the ability to rehydrate after long distance running or sprinting.
  • Acid reflux. Early research suggests that taking a combination of betaine, melatonin, L-tryptophan, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, and methionine daily can reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Hepatitis C. Early research suggests that taking betaine anhydrous (Cystadane) and SAMe together with hepatitis C medications for 12 months can reduce the amount of active virus in people with hepatitis C who did not respond to treatment with hepatitis C medications alone.
  • Liver disease not due to alcohol use (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH). Developing research suggests that betaine anhydrous might improve liver disease in people with NASH.
  • Sunburn. Early research suggests that applying a specific betaine-containing cream (Physiogel Al) daily for one month before ultraviolet (UV) light exposure can reduce redness caused by UV rays. However, applying this cream only 20 minutes before exposure does not have any effect.
  • Nervous system disorder called Rett syndrome. Early research suggests that taking a combination of folate and betaine daily for 12 months does not improve growth, development, or function in girls with Rett syndrome.
  • Weight loss. In one small study, adding betaine anhydrous to a low-calorie diet did not produce extra weight loss in obese adults
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of betaine anhydrous for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Betaine anhydrous is LIKELY SAFE for most children and adults when taken by mouth appropriately. It can cause some minor side effects. These include nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

Betaine anhydrous is also available as a prescription drug in the U.S. Prescription betaine anhydrous is standardized, which means it contains a set dose of active chemicals.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking betaine anhydrous if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

High cholesterol: Betaine anhydrous can increase levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “good”) cholesterol in healthy people, obese people, and people with kidney failure. Using betaine might make already high cholesterol levels even higher. People with high cholesterol should use betaine anhydrous cautiously.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For a condition called homocystinuria: A maintenance dose of 3 grams is usually taken twice daily in both adults and children. In children, the dose usually starts low and is gradually raised to this level. For children under three years old, the starting dose is 100 mg/kg per day; the next week the dose is raised to 200 mg/kg per day for the week; the following week, the dose is raised to 300 mg/kg per day for the week, and so on until the maintenance dose is reached. All patients can receive dose increases until the level of homocysteine in the blood is very low or too low to measure; sometimes doses up to 20 grams per day are needed to achieve this. Dissolve the powder in water immediately before taking.

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