Use of Betaine HCl with Pepsin in Esophageal Cancer Patient: A Case Report

J Med Food. 2024 May 2. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2023.0174. Online ahead of print.


The principal mechanisms surrounding gastrointestinal (GI) side effects due to chemotherapy are unclear, whereas the information regarding symptom management of patients with esophageal cancer post-esophagectomy is lacking. Esophagectomy patients are left with significant anatomical changes to the GI tract, including the cutting of the vagus nerve, which regulates gastric secretions, gastric acid pH, and motility. A 76-year-old male patient self-referred himself to the clinical dietitian for nutritional management of chronic nausea, fatigue, weight loss, and dumping syndrome 9 months post-esophagectomy, which was not responsive to medications. A physical functional nutritional assessment with evaluation of diet history and elimination suggested gastric hypochlorhydria. Gastric acid is needed for the active absorption of iron, zinc, B complex vitamins, especially B12, and digestion of consumed proteins. A digestive supplement, betaine hydrochloric acid with pepsin (BHClP), was introduced, and the patient ingested 1 capsule containing 500 mg betaine hydrochloride and 23.5 mg pepsin prior to protein-containing meals and reported a substantial decrease in GI symptoms while eating a regular diet with no limitations. He gained necessary weight and energy for daily activities. After a few months, the patient discontinued BHClP, and GI symptoms and dumping syndrome returned, leading to a loss of 7.5% of his body weight. The patient reinitiated the supplement and GI symptoms dissipated, and weight was restored. BHClP provided metabolic therapeutic benefit to optimize the patient’s oral intake, preventing further complications and malnutrition. The success with BHClP for this patient case suggests that more research is needed to fully realize the mechanisms and clinical usage.

PMID:38695854 | DOI:10.1089/jmf.2023.0174