Melatonin for IBS
You have been told to take melatonin to help you sleep. Did you know that melatonin has other functions besides for the nighly snooze? Read below
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, has been traditionally studied as a potential treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, cancer, immune disorders, cardiovascular diseases and insomnia. One thing I learned from FDN was that low melatonin is actually a sign of gut dysfunction, which at the time was a new concept to me. Interestingly, melatonin is a hormone produced by enterochromaffin cells of the digestive mucosa. In fact there is higher concentration of melatonin in the gastrointestinal tract than the blood or the pineal gland (Siah, Wong, & Ho, 2014). Melatonin plays an important part in gastrointestinal physiology which includes regulation of gastrointestinal motility, local anti-inflammatory reaction as well as moderation of visceral sensation. In fact melatonin is demonstrated to have a key intestinal functions that includes (Siah et al., 2014):
- Regulation of GI motility– both excitatory and inhibitory effects on gut smooth muscles, in which small doses accelerated intestinal transit whereas high doses reversed the effect.
- Anti-inflammatory-shown to increase NK cell and Th2 mediated immune response, reduce the severity of intestinal inflammatory disease, and scavenge ROS and inhibit macrophage by suppressing pro-inflammatory agents.
- Moderation of visceral sensation-may be involved in mediating gut visceral sensation, demonstrating analgesic effects that may help alleviate abdominal pain
- Melatonin could alleviate sleep disturbances associated with IBS.
- “Melatonin has mood regulation and anti-stress effects which could help alleviate the abnormal psychological parameters observed in IBS patients” (Siah et al., 2014)
Melatonin seems like a potential effective candidate for IBS treatment. “Melatonin might serve the several aspects of IBS treatment strategy because it targets not only the psychological component, i.e., stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disorder but also the peripheral elements of abnormal bowel sensation and motility”(Siah et al., 2014).
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Siah, K. T., Wong, R. K., & Ho, K. Y. (2014). Melatonin for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, 20(10), 2492-2498. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i10.2492