Melatonin for GERD: How This Natural Supplement May Help Acid Reflux

GERD occurs when acid from the stomach comes back up into the esophagus.

Melatonin mayt help acid reflux

© Bert Folsom | Dreamstime

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects 14% to 20% of adults in the United States.[1]  The most common first-line treatment for this very prevalent disorder is drug treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

These drugs can cause some serious side effects, including increased risk for pneumonia, osteoporosis, heart attack, and more. Fortunately, there’s a safer option: melatonin for GERD relief.

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: [1]

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic cough
  • Asthma
  • Dental erosions
  • Laryngitis

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.[1] Studies have shown that people with GERD have lower melatonin levels compared to healthy controls. [2]

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. [2]

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.[1]

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.

[1] Altern Med Rev. 2011 Jun;16(2):116-33.

[2] BMC Gastroenterol. 2010 Jan 18;10:7.

[3] Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014;34(6):2117-27.

[4] Curr Pharm Des. 2014;20(30):4807-15.

Originally published in 2015, this post has been updated.

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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