Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects 14% to 20% of adults in the United States. The most common first-line treatment for this very prevalent disorder is drug treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
Download this expert FREE guide, Abdominal Pain: Diverticulitis, stomach ulcer, gastritis, gallbladder pain, and GERD—symptoms and treatments.
Learn more about your digestive system, how it works, why and how it sometimes acts up, and most important, what you can do about it.
What is GERD?
GERD occurs when acid from the stomach comes back up into the esophagus, the tube that carries your food to the stomach. The lining of the esophagus becomes irritated and produces discomfort and the classic GERD symptoms.
Symptoms of GERD
GERD symptoms include: 
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronic cough
- Dental erosions
When people experience these symptoms multiple times per week, they are diagnosed with GERD.
Melatonin for GERD treatment
Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the brain, and in the stomach, intestines, esophagus, and mouth. Studies have shown that people with GERD have lower melatonin levels compared to healthy controls.
Supplementing with melatonin likely improves symptoms of GERD through numerous pathways, such as lowering inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, protecting the lining of the esophagus, and more.[1,3,4]
A study published in 2010 provides some pretty convincing evidence for the effectiveness of melatonin for GERD. Researchers compared the effects of 3 mg of melatonin per day to drug treatment with omeprazole (a PPI) for eight weeks. They found symptoms of GERD, like heartburn and pain, to be decreased after four weeks and completely resolved after eight weeks in both groups.
Melatonin performed just as well as the drug treatment, but it is much safer and comes with fewer side effects than the risky PPI treatment. It also improves sleep, can help treat migraines, and can help treat IBD symptoms.
How to help acid reflux and heartburn with natural remedies
If you have GERD, you should also avoid triggers like tobacco, alcohol, chocolate, and citrus juice.
If that’s not enough to ease your symptoms, try 3 mg of melatonin per day. Take it at night, about an hour before bed.
Share your experience
Have you ever had success with natural treatment options for GERD, like melatonin? Share your experience in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2015, this post has been updated.