How Effective Is Melatonin for IBS?
Last updated: October 2019
How many of us have used melatonin to help us fall asleep? I have, as well as my children. Along with myself, my 9-year-old suffers from lots of tummy issues. I heard in passing recently that melatonin helps soothe an upset stomach, so I decided to research this further. Anything for some relief, right?
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced in the brain. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythm and to promote sleep. Melatonin supplements might help jet lag, shift-work disorders, and sleep disorders in children. It is important to note that short-term use of melatonin appears safe for most people, but there is a lack of information about long-term use.1
Can melatonin help IBS?
Melatonin is categorized by the FDA as a dietary supplement. It has been pushed as a potential IBS treatment because of its role in gastrointestinal motility (movement of the digestive system), especially for IBS-C patients. It can be assumed that melatonin might be an IBS treatment because of analgesic effects, gastrointestinal motility regulator, and sleep promoter. Research has shown that the concentration of melatonin in the gastrointestinal tissues boosts existing melatonin levels in the blood by 10 to 100 times. For this reason, it is suggested that melatonin may play an important role in the digestive system. It is also been shown to improve anti-inflammatory processes such as colitis. Melatonin might be an option for treating IBS because it could:
- Have pain-relieving effects which may help to ease abdominal pain.
- Help regulate gastrointestinal tract motility, which may improve bowel habits and alleviate abdominal pain or distention.
- Promote sleep, which is often a struggle with IBS patients.
- Have mood regulation and anti-stress effects, which could help relieve any unusual psychological limitations that often occur in IBS patients.
Basically, it is believed that melatonin might target not only the psychological parts of IBS but also the abnormal bowel effects. That is SO important! The majority of studies used 3 mg as the standard dose at bedtime. However, all of the studies showed consistency with improvement in abdominal pain, as well as improvement in the quality of life of IBS patients.2
Talk to a doctor first
There is so much interesting information out there regarding IBS and melatonin. I believe melatonin could potentially be a breakthrough for some IBS patients. I have worked in health care for 10 years now, and have seen first-hand how medication costs affect patients, including myself. A new medication always sounds great! But it isn’t always feasible. However, melatonin is a relatively inexpensive alternative if it is effective. As always, speak with your physician before trying something new, in case of potential interactions with other health conditions or medications!
Have you ever tried acupuncture to relieve IBS symptoms?