Bottom Line/HEALTH: Everybody knows about melatonin for sleep, but we did an article recently about melatonin actually being able to help with indigestion and reflux disease. Can you talk about that a little?
Andrew Rubman, ND: Melatonin affects the body very profoundly. It’s been used as a sleep aid. To be honest with you, I’m still a little bit uncomfortable with it, because it goes in so deeply into the human constitution. But in terms of helping with digestive tract function, it seems to be able to have a calming influence on one of the major substances created in the GI tract, which is serotonin, which allows for the smooth movement of muscular contractions, opening and closing of valves, processing of foods, etc. So it’s really like getting a good manager in to run your factory, and things run more smoothly.
Bottom Line Have there been tests of melatonin versus the many, many acid-suppressing medications that people are taking, and other GERD medications?
Dr. Rubman: Yes, there have. The problem is that the acid-suppressing and GERD medications may be very useful in the short run if a person has an open ulcer, but in the long run, they are really devastating. One is always better off trying a natural intervention like melatonin before resorting to an acid-suppressing drug.
Bottom Line: Given the dangers of all the acid suppressants, if somebody wants to look into melatonin, will their medical doctor even know what to do with it?
Dr. Rubman: They should.
Bottom Line: They should? Okay, cool.
Dr. Rubman: Yeah, there’s been enough research there that they should be able to at least address it intelligently, even though they may not support it.
Bottom Line: And one of the things about melatonin with sleep is that you have to constantly adjust it. Is that the same case with GERD?
Dr. Rubman Yes, it is, because of the great deal of individual variability in terms of response to the melatonin. Best general guide is to take enough to make the problem begin to be mitigated and then begin to cut down and see what’s the least amount that you need to take in order to accomplish what it is you want.
Bottom Line: Great. All right, thank you, Dr. Rubman.