The use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) used to treat digestive disorders like heartburn, have come under fire recently by a number of different health advocates. A number of clinical studies have shown melatonin at bedtime to be an adequate alternative for curbing GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and even speeding up the healing of ulcers.
In both animal and human studies the speed to heal ulcers was accelerated with the use of melatonin. In addition melatonin was shown to be effective against esophageal lesions provoked by reflux esophagitis in animal studies. Also in humans melatonin was shown to prevent the incidence of GERD.
60 patients with non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) or functional heartburn were given a 20 mg dose of omeprazole at breakfast and then randomly assigned to receive 6 mg of melatonin, 25 mg of nortiptyline (an antidepressant) or a placebo at bedtime. The study lasted 2 months. Biopsies of the esophagus were taken as a diagnostic tool. It is important, studies show, that the PPI’s be continued for at least 40 days after beginning the melatonin regime and taken spottily after that if a reoccurrence of heartburn occurs.
75% of patients receiving the melatonin reported improvements in symptoms vs those receiving the nortiptyline. 45% of the participants receiving the melatonin also showed improvements in GERDHRQOL scores in comparison to those taking the placebo. Adverse effects were small however 20-30% of the melatonin group reported diarrhea and abdominal distention respectively.
Melatonin seems to be responsible for controlling the lower esophageal sphincter and gastric acid secretion. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland. It is also interesting to note the PPI’s damage the cells that produce melatonin.
More studies on melatonin associated with amino acids and vitamins are being called for not just as an alternative therapy for PPI’s and GERD but also for their ability to cure ulcers.
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