Betaine Anhydrous is an ingredient that has made its way into dozens of weight loss pills under any of several different names. Other names commonly used to identify this substance in a list of ingredients include cystadane, lycine, TMG, trimethyl glycine, 2(N,N,N-trymethyl)ammonium-acetate, betaina anhidra, glycylbetaine, and several others.
Regardless of what it is called, the function and effects of betaine anhydrous remain the same. This is a naturally occurring chemical that is found within the body as well as in a number of common foods, such as cereals, spinach, beets, seafood and even wine.
In terms of its medical uses, betaine anhydrous has received the nod from the FDA in order to treat high levels of homocysteine in the urine (a condition known as homocystinuria) in individuals who have certain genetic disorders. High levels of homocysteine in the urine is associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, eye lens issues and skeletal problems.
Though not approved by the FDA for these purposes, this ingredient is also often used in the treatment of liver disease, blood homocysteine levels, congestive heart failure, athletic performance enhancement, immune system boosting, osteoarthritis and obesity, among other conditions.
This substance is also sometimes added to toothpastes in order to stop their formulations from causing dry mouth in users.
The way it works in the body is that it changes the metabolism of homocysteine, which can have an impact on bone density, the makeup of the blood, as well as influencing the nerves, eyes, heart and even the brain.
Aside from changing homocysteine levels and potentially reducing dry mouth in many oral care products, the majority of other uses for this ingredient are considered to be unproven. In fact, based on anecdotal evidence and preliminary testing, it is likely ineffective for many of the other reasons for which it has been applied. In terms of usage for exercise performance and obesity, there is inadequate evidence to support its use or to indicate against its use.
One very limited study combining a reduced calorie diet with the use of betaine anhydrous did not show any additional weight loss among adults with obesity. However, more evidence would be required before it would be possible to know whether or not there is a connection between the use of this substance and an improvement in the rate of losing weight. Moreover, assuming there was a connection, research would be required to determine whether or not it is safe to use for this purpose, as well as what the ideal dosage would be for the average dieter.