Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain that helps regulate other hormones and aids in setting the body's circadian rhythm, or internal clock. It is also used in the form of an herbal supplement for a variety of reasons. Studies indicate that this supplement might be effective in helping to treat acid reflux, a condition in which the stomach contents back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn and irritation. This use of melatonin is still being studied, so consult your health care provider before using it to treat your acid reflux.
Begin taking melatonin in very small doses. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking less than 0.3 mg daily, which is close to the amount your body naturally produces. Larger doses might cause anxiety. If you find you need a larger dose, consult your doctor about the best way to increase the dosage.
Take a melatonin supplement with omeprazole, a proton-pump-inhibitor drug that is commonly used to treat acid reflux. According to a 2010 study published in "BMC Gastroenterology," melatonin was effective at relieving symptoms of acid reflux, especially when taken with omeprazole. Talk with your doctor about whether this is safe for you and how much to take.
Consume your melatonin at night, if possible. Taken during the day, melatonin can cause drowsiness. If you find it does not have this effect on you, take it when you desire.
Pay attention to your diet and stay away from foods that might cause your acid reflux to worsen. Many people find their symptoms get worse when they consume caffeine, alcohol, tomatoes, citrus juices or fruits, fatty or spicy foods or dairy products. Determine your triggers and minimize your consumption of them to help keep symptoms at bay.
Tell your doctor about any other medical conditions you have or any other medications you might be taking. Even though your body naturally makes melatonin, it can still interact with certain drugs and cause adverse side effects.
Pregnant and nursing women should not take melatonin because it might interfere with fertility, says the University of Maryland.