Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be very debilitating. Disturbed sleep is a common symptom associated with IBS so researchers are now investigating if improving melatonin levels can help IBS.
We produce melatonin in the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates our circadian rhythm – which is how much time we are awake and asleep.
Melatonin & IBS
However, we also make melatonin in a much greater quantity in the gut where it affects gut motility and has anti-inflammatory effects. Let’s take a look at the possible links between melatonin, sleep disturbances, & IBS.
What the research shows
Gender and aging are important risk factors for individuals suffering from IBS. Many IBS patients have poor sleep quality and reduced levels of melatonin. In IBS-C, melatonin is seen to improve life quality and decreases pain but in IBS-D, the benefits are less apparent. We need more studies to see if these effects are due to sleep improvements, direct gut action of melatonin, or both.
What we need to make melatonin
There are several ways we can ensure we produce adequate amounts of melatonin. Take a look at my previous post how we make melatonin. You’ll see from this that we need sufficient levels of protein, Vitamins B3 & B6, folate, zinc, and magnesium. You’ll also read in the link about those foods which contain melatonin and other ideas on how to improve our melatonin levels. Take a look.
Obviously, our first goal should be to improve our production of melatonin in the body and see if that helps IBS symptoms. However, if no improvement is seen, you could try supplementing with melatonin.
I’d love to know if you find a connection between sleep and symptoms so do email me or leave a comment below. If you want some ideas of which supplemental melatonin, I can help with that too.
Interested in other melatonin blog posts?
Melatonin & Migraines | Tolerable, effective prevention – coming next week.
Esteban-Zubero E., et al. (2017). Melatonin’s role as a co-adjuvant treatment in colonic disease: A review. Life Sciences. Vol. 170 pp.72-81.
Jarrett, M., et al. (2000). Sleep disturbance influences gastrointestinal symptoms in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Vol. 45 (5), pp.952-959
Tien Ho Siah, K et al. (2014). Melatonin for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, Vol. 20 (10), pp 2492-98.