|Melatonin is good for sleep. You already know that. And you also probably know how good it is for immune function and cancer prevention. But did you know that it can also cure one of the most common maladies of our time? If you don't have it yourself, you probably know someone who does. I'm talking about chronic heartburn, which the medical world calls GERD or reflux disease.
A recent study looked at 350 patients with GERD. The doctors gave half of them 6 mg of melatonin along with some common nutrients, which I will tell you about. They gave the other half 20 mg of omeprazole, commonly sold as Prilosec. Most doctors will tell you omeprazole is one of the best drugs for GERD. And 20 mg is a maximum dose. So how did it stack up against melatonin?
Every single one of the melatonin patients was free of all symptoms after 40 days of treatment. And none of them had any side effects. Compare this to the omeprazole group. Only 65.7% of them were symptom free. And there were side effects. Just over 1% stopped taking the drug because of persistent headache. Another 4% had diarrhea. And 1.7% developed high blood pressure.
But it gets better for melatonin. After the study ended, the doctors started the 60 patients who had not responded to omeprazole on the melatonin therapy. Once again, after 40 days, every single one of them was free of symptoms. I think that's amazing. But why does melatonin work for GERD? There are a number of reasons.
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Your brain makes melatonin in response to sunlight. But that's not the only place your body makes it. Your body also makes it in the enterochromaffin cells in the intestinal tract. In fact, the enterochromaffin cells typically make 400 times more melatonin than the brain does! Sunlight does not affect melatonin in the intestines. Instead, your intestines release it when you eat. And melatonin has some wonderful effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
It prevents ulcers, stops an overproduction of stomach acid, prevents intestinal infections, promotes ulcer healing, and increases circulation.
Melatonin also reduces nitric oxide synthesis in the esophageal sphincter. Nitric oxide causes the sphincter to relax and allows stomach acid to reflux up into the esophagus. This is a major mechanism of reflux in patients with GERD, and melatonin corrects it.
The other nutrients that the researchers used with the melatonin were: l-tryptophan (200 mg), d,l-methionine (100 mg), betaine (100 mg), folic acid (10 mg), vitamin B6 (25 mg), and vitamin B12 (50 mcg). They used l-tryptophan because it converts to melatonin in the enterochromaffin cells. The other supplements stimulate the methylation cycle. One of the products of the methylation cycle is SAMe, which has successfully cured stomach ulcers in animals. You can find all of these supplements in any health food store.
One last thing. GERD causes more symptoms than just heartburn. It can also cause vomiting, difficulty swallowing, chronic coughing, and hoarseness. So try some melatonin (6 mg) before you turn to any prescription or over-the-counter drugs. It works better and has almost no side effects (other than drowsiness and possibly grogginess).
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Pereira S. "Regression of gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms using dietary supplementation with melatonin, vitamins and amino acids: comparison with omeprazole," Pineal Res. 2006 Oct;41(3):195-200.
Bubenik GA. Gastrointestinal melatonin: localization, function, and clinical relevance. Dig Dis Sci. 2002 Oct;47(10):2336-48.
Werbach MR. Melatonin for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):54-8.
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