Melatonin: Just for Sleep? Think Again…Here Comes Your Heartburn’s Worst Enemy

So…most of us has heard of melatonin right? Isn’t that for sleep, you ask? Well, let’s rethink this concept…

One thing I have learned in my career is that supplements have the amazing capacity to help support so many different health concerns. Unlike conventional medications, a lot of the supplements are known to help more than one health issue at a time. For example, fish oil can help thin the blood for those who clot too easily. It also can help with inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. It also seems to help with cognition during aging. It also helps with high triglycerides. How many medications can do all that?

This is why I am such a fan of supplements. Obviously, to me supplementation is still something you need to clear with your doctor to avoid side effects or interactions but I think it’s worthwhile having these discussions with your doctor.

Now, comes the part that’s so great…for those of you with heartburn, I’m sure you’ve been told by doctors that heartburn can be worse at night because you’re lying down. Imagine if the supplement you use for sleep can also help with heartburn…

In a study published in 2010 by Kandil et. al., melatonin was seen to help with heartburn. 36 patients were divided into 4 groups, the control group, melatonin alone for therapy, omeprazole plus melatonin and omeprazole alone for 4 and 8 weeks. Each group consisted of 9 patients and each patient was subjected to medical history, physical exam, lab work, endoscopic evaluation, esophageal motility study, pH measurement, basal acid output measurement and serum gastrin level. The results showed that melatonin helped with heartburn better than the control group but omeprazole got better results. Essentially, the three therapy groups all showed improvement of heartburn compared to the group that received no therapy (the control group).

So, the great take away point is that if you are not using heartburn medication and don’t want to, you could use melatonin to help with some of your symptoms. If your heartburn is significant though, you’ll need omeprazole type medication, melatonin simply won’t be as effective; and either way, you should have your doctor evaluate you for your heartburn symptoms.

If you can’t decide on omeprazole type medication or melatonin, you could however use both to help with sleep and heartburn…that’s a win-win in my book any day.

Reference:

Kandil TS, et al. The Potential Therapeutic Effect of Melatonin in Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. BMC Gastroenterol. 2010. Jan 18, 10:7. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-10-7

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