Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Melatonin for Acid Reflux?

Is it true that taking melatonin for 40 days can eliminate acid reflux?

Answer (Published 11/5/2010)

Acid reflux is a common condition in which stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus - the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach - causing heartburn and a sour taste in the mouth. These symptoms usually last a few hours after a meal and then go away. Most people experience acid reflux from time to time, usually after eating certain foods.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet Source - Want to promote overall health and help minimize the risk of inflammatory diseases? Join Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging, your online guide to the anti-inflammatory diet. Start your 14-day free trial now for access to shopping and eating guides, hundreds of recipes, an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid and more!

Acid reflux that regularly occurs more than twice a week is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Melatonin is a neurotransmitter produced by a gland in the brain that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. I recommend it in supplement form as a remedy for jet lag and insomnia, and as an immune booster. Over the past several years, various studies have investigated whether melatonin acts as an antioxidant and an antiaging supplement and have looked into its effects on sleep disturbances and seasonal affective disorder. It also is being studied for treatment of endocrine problems and some forms of cancer. Much of the research to date has been done in cultured cells, in animals or in very small numbers of human subjects.

The use of melatonin as a treatment for acid reflux was reported several years ago by Polish researchers who published their findings in March 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.They recruited 60 patients with the disorder and divided them into two groups. Half of the patients took 5 mg of melatonin every evening; the others received a placebo. After 12 weeks, more than half the patients in the melatonin group no longer had reflux symptoms and 30 percent of the rest of the group reported partial improvement. Less than 10 percent of the patients taking the placebo reported any improvement in their symptoms.

The researchers noted that some of the patients who took melatonin weren't helped at all, and said that future investigations must explore the question of whether the benefits seen in this study will be permanent, or whether patients must continue to take melatonin indefinitely for lasting relief. I haven't found any follow up to these findings, although I did see the report of a single patient with GERD taking 6 mg of melatonin for 40 days, after which her symptoms did not recur. That lone case doesn't warrant a recommendation of melatonin as a treatment for GERD. However, while we have to regard the results of the Polish study as preliminary, I see no reason why you shouldn't try 5 mg of melatonin for a few months to see if it helps relieve your acid reflux. Aside from causing nightmares in a few people, supplemental melatonin has no known adverse effects.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here