The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2
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Betaine HCL causing panic attacks?

Discussion in 'The Gut: De Meirleir & Maes; H2S; Leaky Gut' started by douglasmich, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. douglasmich



    I purchased betaine HCL to improve my digestion. I took it a year ago in doses up to 5g with success.

    I took 3g today with a meal and felt a better sense of digestion. Then 40min later i started to feel incredibly hyper and layed down. Then my ears started ringing and i had a panic attack with my skin crawling.

    Does anyone know why? I read its a methyl donor..... I never had issues with taking it prior to setting off my methylation cycle in October.

    If i can't take this im buggered, i literally cannot digest food.

  2. Deltrus

    Deltrus Senior Member

    I know why. Methylation boosters rapidly use up magnesium. Stuff like B vitamins and methyl donors(betaine) force methylation to work which is why CFS sufferers have success with it. But using such high amounts, if you manage to get rid of every chokepoint in the methylation cycle, then you use up magnesium at an insanely fast speed. Then you run out, and the very little magnesium that managed to get deep into cells is depleted.

    Your problem should go away in around 10 hours I think, just as a guess. To a medium extent at least.

    Magnesium works as the opposite to calcium. Calcium in excess causes tinnitus, chronic tightness(in the form of constipation too), etc. Magnesium doesn't work like other ions, water sticks to it heavily. This property actually makes it exactly the counter to calcium, it is actually quite amazing. But I'm not going to go into that here.

    I'm working on a comprehensive theory on magnesium in CFS atm. Dr myhill saw the start of it. The key would be to increase magnesium, then use just as much b vitamins as you need, so your magnesium doesn't get used up and you still get the right amount of methylation/neurotransmitters.You just gotta stop taking stuff to boost the methylation cycle, maybe hope a magnesium protocol such as myhill's works.

    Phenibut/gabapentin gives a temporary help to me, and it makes my digestive system work and alleviates much of my CFS. But it can only be used once a week MAX. It lowers calcium levels quite a lot. NAC might also help, I believe it lowers calcium. High doses of NAC also deplete b12, so you have to be careful.

    The problem with boosting magnesium in CFS is that one you need to know why it isn't getting into cells, and two you need to have a solution to this complex problem.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  3. Deltrus

    Deltrus Senior Member

  4. Mary

    Mary Forum Support Assistant

    Southern California
    You might look into thiamine. It works with magnesium somehow, and also helps with production of stomach acid. I started taking it a couple of months ago (150 mg. benfotiamine, in addition to methyl supplements which I've been taking for several years), and it noticeably increased my energy. I do take betaine HCL and never had the problem you describe, but if it is magnesium-related as Deltrus suggests, then B1 just might be of help.

    I also found the hard way that B1 increased my need for phosphorus (google "refeeding syndrome") and I think upset my balance of the other Bs, which got resolved when I started to take brewers yeast in place of my B complex. I still take methylfolate, methylcobalamin, pantothenic acid and P-5-P as well as the brewers yeast.

    I didn't do well when I tried to add in manganese - we are all different, so whatever you do, I would go slowly to see how you react.
  5. picante

    picante Senior Member

    Helena, MT USA
    10 or more years ago I duly noted that Betaine HCl triggered "SOIM" for me. That was my abbreviation for "Sudden-Onset Intolerable Mood", which I'll describe as wanting-to-tear-out-my-hair intense frustration.

    Several supps did that to me, back when my ND had me trying various mercury chelation drugs.

    I've never tried it again with the HCl. In the last year and a half, I've tried betaine (TMG) by itself, and it hasn't made me crazy.

    That's interesting about magnesium depletion, @Deltrus. I've been taking a lot of magnesium; I seem to have a huge need for it, and not much tolerance for methyl donors lately.

    I've also read that once magnesium is stripped off the NMDA receptors (ammonia can do this, too), you get glutamate toxicity, since there is nothing to regulate how much glutamate binds to the receptors. Excuse me if I've oversimplified. I don't totally understand it, but this would possibly explain the SOIM.
  6. aaron_c

    aaron_c Senior Member

    An alternate explanation might involve leaky gut and a peptide called cholecystokinin (CCK), which is involved in the digestion of fats and protein through the release of bile from the gallbladder and digestive enzymes from the pancreas, respectively. According to Encyclopedia Britainnica "[CCK's] secretion is stimulated by the introduction of hydrochloric acid, amino acids, or fatty acids into the stomach or duodenum."

    So we have a peptide whose release is triggered by, among other things, HCl in your stomach and duodenum. But how does this cause a panic attack? According to John Brisson

    A single CCK peptide known as CCK-4 is to blame.18 In someone that is healthy, most CCK peptides are broken down effectively in the digestive tract, or do not cross the BBB easily. When someone is having fat digestion issues, upper gut infections, SIBO, or leaky gut, CCK peptides are more likely to cross the BBB (specifically CCK-4.)19 20 What does CCK-4 do when it gets into the brain? It overstimulates the vagus nerve for one and induces panic.21Studies show that CCK-4, injected into the blood stream, causes panic attacks. It is quickly metabolized in the brain, so the duration of its effects are short, unless the act of panicking releases excess catecholamines which causes some people to have panic attacks for an extended amount of time. 22
    For this theory to hold water we have to assume that you have some new kind of problem with gut permeability.

    For what it's worth, I have had issues with panic sensations following fat- or protein- rich foods in the past, although I usually fix those problems by doing something to increase HCl and improve digestion generally. I also have a vague memory of having experienced panic as a result of too much HCl as maybe that happened.

    In terms of treatment:

    1. As I mentioned above, I have tried taking extra HCl, and this has helped me when I got a feeling of "undigested food" sitting around. Maybe this isn't the issue for you.
    2. When this got quite bad for me I went to a Chinese Medical Clinic and got some herbs, that seemed to help. Because I didn't need to keep taking them forever, I assume that the problem they fixed was dysbiosis-related--but I don't know.
    3. Any of a whole lot of leaky gut remedies like licorice root tea, Saguna Silicol Gel, glutamine, quercetin, et.

    To be honest, I feel like even if this theory is mostly right, we might be missing a piece or two to explain exactly why 3g of Betaine-HCl is suddenly the wrong amount, or else why your gut is suddenly much more permeable. Did you get an infection that effects your GI? Do you have a new food allergy?

    Taking a step back, I also wonder if there isn't some unknown factor that can cause a higher proportion of CCK to become CCK-4, or else cause CCK-4 to resist cleavage. For example, are the enzymes involved in cleaving CCK-4 sensitive to pH? Or is undigested food more acutely irritating to the gut lining than I had thought?

    Finally: I somewhat obviously prefer the CCK theory to the methylation-causing-magnesium-depletion one, but I might have an imperfect test for the Mg-centered theory: Try taking dimethylglycine-HCl (DMG-HCl) It is more or less a methyl sponge, but it still contains HCl. If it causes a panic attack similar to before, then you know that the problem is not overmethylation. Unfortunately, if it does not cause a panic attack then you are left with the question of whether that was because it did not overmethylate you or because DMG-HCl stimulates less HCl secretion than TMG-HCl (thus triggering less CCK release).

    @Deltrus: Although I disagree with you today, I am open to being proven wrong, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with regarding Mg and ME/CFS. In regards to ways to keep Mg in our cells: You may already be aware of the link between selenium and Mg, but if not you might want to see what I wrote about it here. Best of luck sleuthing out a fix to this illness of ours.

    PS. Particularly because I mention treatment, I should add that I am not a physician of any kind, and that I am just suggesting what has worked for me in the past and what I might do in your place.
    Sidereal and Deltrus like this.
  7. Deltrus

    Deltrus Senior Member

    @aaron_c actually thanks a ton for bringing selenium to my attention. That whole thread is very relevant to my line of research.
    aaron_c likes this.
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Senior Member

    Any more insight into CCK?

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