Melatonin for Reflux Disease

Melatonin and Reflux DiseaseThe 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.



Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose OilEvening Primrose Oil, EPO, is derived from a plant found in North America. This plant grows yellow flowers that bloom in the evening time, which is how the name of this essential fatty acid came to be.  EPO is found in the seeds of the plant and is approximately 25% essential fatty acids.  This means these oils are essential to our health however our bodies cannot make them.  Raw material manufacturers cold press the seeds of the flower to make the oil and then they encapsulate the raw material into a dietary supplement.   Evening Primrose Oil is an Omega-6 essential fatty acid and is a source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and LA (linoleic acid).

Evening Primrose Acid may help the following:

  • Promote Healthy Joints
  • Support the symptoms of PMS
  • Balance gastrointestinal health
  • Support a healthy cardiovascular system
  • Nourish the skin
  • Protect the integrity of the cell membrane
  • Balance hormones
  • Provide healthy nerve support
  • Improve brain function
  • Support the health of the central nervous system
  • Aid in the absorption of vitamins K, E and D

Here are 6 areas where research has shown EPO may provide healthy results:

1) Hormone Balance

Essential fatty acids are considered to be the building blocks of hormones.  Hormones are required for most every metabolic process in the body.  The essential fatty acids found in EPO reduce inflammatory prostaglandins, support hormone balance and support endocrine disorders like PCOS which can affect menstrual cycle regularity, fertility and ovulation.

Prostaglandin, hormone like chemicals found in the body, production is modulated by Evening Primrose Oil.  Prostaglandins also play a role in water retention, normal blood clotting and even in labor initiation in the birthing process.  Although there are many kinds of prostaglandins they all play a role in the functioning of a healthy body.  EPO helps to maintain and promote healthy prostaglandin levels.

2) Fertility

Evening Primrose Oil has been shown to increase metabolic function and cervical mucus.  These are two key factors needed for healthy menstruation and ovulation.

3) PMS and Women’s Health

Evening Primrose Oil has been shown to support several symptoms associated with PMS like bloating, water retention, mood swings, acne, breast pain and irritability.  Usually these symptoms are related to imbalances in hormone levels and research shows EPO can moderate these symptoms when taken consistently.  EPO can also help support symptoms associated with menopause making it an essential nutrient for women’s health.

4) Healthy Skin

Evening of Primrose Oil which contains GLA is essential for skin health.  GLA has shown benefits in supporting skin issues related to inflammation as well as hormone imbalances.  The skin which is the body’s largest organ, needs the Omega-6 essential acids found in EPO to improve skin elasticity and to optimize cell membrane structure.  Research has found some benefits for individuals suffering from psoriasis, eczema and generalized skin redness and EPO supplementation.

5) Reducing Inflammation

Evening Primrose Oil is often used to promote balance throughout the inflammatory pathways in the body especially in the joints.  It is been use to support the diseases involving chronic inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and atopic dermatitis.  Research shows EPO can aid in dealing with symptoms associated with RA.

6) Health Hair

Hair loss common in both men and women is often associated with hormonal changes.  DHT, a male hormone, can cause hair follicles to shrink.  This reduces the hair’s lifespan and actually can actually slow down hair growth.  If DHT is high, which can happen to women with thyroid issues, PCOS and other chronic health issues, hair growth slows.  EPO can aid in stopping this hair loss.


Nestle`-Backed Study Links Probiotic Strain and Depression

gut health probioticsA new study backed by Nestle` shows a specific strain of a probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum, helped relieve symptoms of depression as well as alleviating gastrointestinal upsets.

Over 40 adults who had experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in addition to mild to moderate amounts of depression or anxiety participated in this study.   Half the group took a dose of Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) daily and the other half of the group took a placebo.  After six weeks researchers found 64% of the patients taking the probiotic experienced reductions in depression scores when compared to 32% of the participants taking the placebo.  Additionally functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), showed depression score improvements were associated with changes in multiple areas in the brain involved with mood control.  No changes were seen in anxiety scores however improvements in quality of life were seen in the group supplementing with the probiotic.

Although the results of this study are promising, larger scale trials are needed.



Digestive Health Digest

Digestive HealthIn the past, when discussing digestive health, products targeting the prevention of gas and bloating, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation were in the forefront.  Specific conditions usually addressed were Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colon Cancer prevention and general support for healthy elimination.  Products like Fiber and Oat Bran were touted as providing cardiovascular support as well as reducing the risks of colon cancer and promoting increased regular elimination.  Today people are beginning to understand that there is a connection between overall wellness and digestive health. They are taking a more proactive role in searching for products that support this health connection without looking to necessarily treat a specific condition.

Probiotics have taken the center stage as more studies show the connection between digestive health and overall wellness.  Ensuring that the Probiotics available contain the correct strains and a proper transport system are keys to realizing the benefits Probiotics are able to provide.  Up and coming interest in digestive health support supplements are in the areas of Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes.

Prebiotics help the body produce its own friendly bacteria while Probiotics involve introducing foreign strains of friendly bacteria into the digestive tract.  Prebiotics basically insure success of the Probiotic strains in the gut.  They are synergistic in that taken together they provide the maximum benefits available for digestive health.

While not as well known as Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes are also critical for optimal digestive health.  As we age our body natural slows down its production of Digestive Enzymes.  Additionally stressful situations as well as over processing of our food sources may cause a lack of Digestive Enzyme production in our intestinal system.  Without adequate Digestive Enzymes feelings of bloating and increased gas production may be experienced.  A reduction in nutrient absorption also occurs which may lead to a reduction in overall immunity and health as well as digestive disturbances.

According to the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive conditions every year.  Taking a proactive role to supporting healthier digestive health seems to be a step in the right direction.


Study Links Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Vitamin D Deficiency

IBSA new study has found a majority of people who live with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) could be deficient in Vitamin D.

Participants in this double-blind randomized controlled trial received one of the following protocols:

A Placebo

A Vitamin D Supplement and a Probiotic Placebo

A Vitamin D Supplement and a Probiotic

Participants provided a blood sample to assess their Vitamin D levels at the onset of the study and took their assigned protocol for 12 weeks filling in an IBS symptom questionnaire every two weeks.

70% of those individuals that received a high dose supplementation showed an improvement in their symptoms.

IBS is a debilitating chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal tract.  It is not understood how this condition develops, although it has been confirmed that both stress and diet could make symptoms worse.

Prior studies have confirmed an association between a deficiency of Vitamin D and inflammatory bowel disease. Recent studies also show a benefit in the reduction of blood pressure, risks of heart disease and kidney disease with Vitamin D supplementation.