Most people experience acid reflux at least a few times in their lives – a painful and unpleasant condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus causing heartburn. But for about 1 in every 10 adults, acid reflux isn’t just a fleeting nuisance; it’s a nearly everyday occurrence.
People who experience acid reflux more than two times a week are said to suffer from gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition is obviously very painful and can also be seriously debilitating, forcing the sufferer to permanently alter how and what they ingest.
There are a number of treatment options currently available to GERD patients that physicians are likely to recommend. These may include:
- Over the Counter Medications
The first line of defense against acid reflux and resulting heartburn is usually over the counter (OTC) medications. These generally fall under the category of either antacids or acid reducers.
- Prescription Medications
GERD that doesn’t respond to OTC medications may require a prescription (like Prilosec or Nexium) from a physician.
In extreme cases where symptom relief cannot be achieved and there is danger of permanent gastro-esophageal damage, surgery may be considered as a last resort.
The Promise of Melatonin
While conventional GERD treatments may work for some people, all medications – even simple OTC drugs – come with a slew of undesirable side effects like nausea, dizziness, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and headaches; and obviously the prospect of surgery to correct GERD is frightening and extreme. Luckily for GERD sufferers, there is another option – melatonin.
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced in the brain and gastrointestinal tract of healthy humans. Its primary and most well understood function is regulation of sleep cycles but it is also a key player in a variety of biorhythms, including digestion. It has long been used as a natural supplement for the treatment of insomnia and jetlag. There is even some evidence that melatonin may have antioxidant and anti-aging effects when taken regularly, although further research needs to be performed.
Arguably, the most exciting research on melatonin examines its effect as a natural treatment for acid reflux. The first scientific study to examine melatonin in this light was published in 2007. The study had a very simple design – half of the human test subjects (all with GERD) were given a placebo and half were given 5mg of melatonin daily for 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks had passed, over half of the subjects that received melatonin reported no or lessened reflux symptoms. Fewer than ten percent of the placebo subjects reported any improvement.
That study sparked the interest of health professionals, medical researchers, and GERD sufferers around the world. Suddenly, there was a new and natural substance that could be used to effectively treat acid reflux.
Subsequent studies continue to reaffirm the original findings – melatonin can be very beneficial to people with GERD. A 2010 study published in BMC Gastroenterology concluded that, “oral melatonin is a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of GERD. It is an effective line of treatment in relieving epigastric pain and heartburn”.
These scientific studies are bolstered by the many personal anecdotes and testimonials on the web of GERD sufferers who have found symptom relief through a melatonin regimen.
Melatonin and D-Limonene
But the promise of melatonin doesn’t stop there. When paired with a substance called D-Limonene (a citrus peel extract), it can be an even more efficient acid busting treatment. Numerous studies have demonstrated that D-Limonene is an effective digestive aid which can relieve or even eliminate the symptoms of GERD.
Combining the power of melatonin and D-Limonene may be sufficient for many people to experience speedy and complete symptom relief. And the best part is these substances are completely natural, unlike OTC drugs and prescription medications. It certainly opens a whole new avenue of treatment for those with acid reflux.
Written by Dr. Frank Shallenberger. Dr. Shallenberger uses breakthrough cures you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" or anti-aging doctors.