Melatonin is a natural hormone that some people take as a supplement. It may help to regulate circadian rhythms, relieve pain, and improve gut barrier function. This means it may benefit people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
However, according to an older study, the main concentration of melatonin is in the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small intestines, and large intestine), surpassing the amount in the blood by
People can purchase melatonin as a dietary supplement. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Rome IV, which doctors use to diagnose IBS, defines the condition as a disorder of gut-brain interaction. This means that it is related to how the brain and gut work together.
The criteria state that a person must have recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day a week in the last 3 months. Pain is related to defecation or a change in the frequency or appearance of stool.
People may experience:
- feeling of an unfinished bowel movement
- white mucus in the stool
Doctors may also diagnose IBS according to its subtypes. The following subtypes of IBS are determined by the type of abnormal stool that a person has, ranging from watery diarrhea to hard, lumpy stool:
- IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
- IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
- IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)
- IBS unclassified (IBS-U, which indicates that a person’s bowel habits do not fall into the other categories)
Scientists are still investigating how melatonin may help to manage gastrointestinal conditions, including IBS.
According to a
The same study suggests that melatonin may help regulate the immune system and improve gut barrier function.
The side effects of melatonin may include:
Melatonin may also interact with a person’s medication. The NCCIH advises that people with epilepsy or who are taking blood thinners should speak with a doctor before taking melatonin supplements.
The NCCIH also notes a 2017 study that tested 31 different melatonin supplements from stores and pharmacies. Most of the supplements did not contain the amount of melatonin listed on the label.
A person may prefer to try increasing their melatonin levels without taking supplements. People may help increase their melatonin levels by:
- reducing their caffeine intake
- eating tryptophan-rich foods
- limiting their exposure to artificial light
- safely spending time in the sun during the day
People should consider speaking with a healthcare professional for further information about increasing their melatonin levels naturally.
A doctor can advise a person on how to best manage their IBS. They may also prescribe medication if necessary.
- eating more fiber (including whole grains, oat products, and beans)
- avoiding gluten (including wheat and rye products)
- following a low FODMAP diet that excludes specific foods containing carbohydrates that may be hard to digest
Additionally, the NIDDK advises that the following lifestyle changes
A probiotic supplement may help to balance the bacteria in the gut, which may relieve symptoms of IBS. However, a person should consider speaking with a doctor before taking probiotic supplements.
A doctor may also recommend mental health therapies such as:
Melatonin has properties that may help to ease the symptoms of IBS. It regulates circadian rhythms and may help improve sleep and immune function in the gut, and ease pain.
However, scientists are still investigating how melatonin may help manage gastrointestinal disorders.
Melatonin may not be suitable for some people. It can interact with some medications, so a person should always talk with a doctor before taking it.