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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Melatonin and Acid Reflux

I've tried to make the best of my detoxing nightmare with the Cymbalta and it's been hard, but I think I may have found one good thing to come out of this whole mess!  Before I get there, however, I need to say that I'm at around Day #27 of the detoxing and I think I might - just might - get out of this nightmare eventually. And I say "eventually" with great trepidation for fear of jinxing myself.

But the bit of an upside?  The other day I turned to the Internet for some sort of question but as per my usual MO, I ended up looking for everything but what I'd started on.  OK, that's nothing new.  But I like to think that I'm not alone with this sort of meandering so-called brain which can't help exploring anything and everything that pops into it. 

At any rate, last week I'd written that my acid reflex has gotten so bad that I am well into a second bottle of Tums.  I rarely get acid reflex but when it does happen, all bets are off because even the "little purple pill" advertised during the nightly news doesn't help, much less Tums.  Luckily, I normally have a "cure" for "heart burn" and it's simply stop pigging out and/or get enough sleep!

But recently the GERD has been completely out of control no matter what: sleep or no sleep, eating right or not eating right.  Acid reflux had found its way into me and wasn't about to loosen its grip on me anytime soon.  Yes, it's another of the many legacies of the Cymbalta fiasco.  I'm so glad that this stuff (the Cymbalta) will soon be out of my system and I am saying right now that I will "brever" take this sort of medicine again. ("Never say never," so I'm making up a new word, "brever.")  

May I add that over the years I've taken an embarrassing number of antidepressants - as well as all other sorts of medications - because of my CFIDS/ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, and its many comorbidities?  I've needed all sorts of medications to address the problems at hand, from steroids to Klonopin to Effexor, from Pamelor to Xanax to about 80% of the medicines out there that have at any time been thought to be great for these problems.  Then those medications get replaced by other medicines as new ones come out, as theories and thinking changes....

But the kicker has been that I've never had any sort of withdrawal problems in all the years that I've taken medicine to combat any old thing.  Not one medication whatsoever has caused significant problems as far as my (long-suffering) GP, (ever-suffering) rheumy and (most-suffering) me can remember.  This is wicked.  In the beginning I laughed and said it was no worse than being pregnant - trying to make light of what was happening - and only a semi-joke because my pregnancies were indeed nightmarish.  However, I really jinxed myself by "laughing" off the detoxing.  

But a little of relief has been found!  As I already said, the other day I got onto my trusty iPad and started looking up other symptoms I'm living with and I found a treasure.  Yippee!  And it's one that is a great bit of info to have, whether you're ill or healthy.  Surprise!

Dr. Andrew Weil reported that a group of Polish researchers found that melatonin may help with acid reflex. Wow!  If true, this would be truly amazing news to me. 

I pulled (ever-suffering) hubs into our bedroom and started interrogating him as to when I complained about acid reflex.  What, over the last 37 years, does he remember?  Although I trust his memory more than I do mine, I do remember that the first time that I ever had acid reflex was in grad school when I would pull all-nighters, having too many papers to grade, lesson plans to work up, my own coursework attended to, and so forth.

I also remember saying to my fellow students, "don't you just hate that awful burning that goes on if you get only an hour or two of sleep?"  They had no idea what I was talking about - perhaps because they weren't idiotic enough to pull as many all-nighters as I did?  (But then they were much brighter than I could ever be. Me: I just have more persistence than most.  I'm not as smart as most; I'm just a hard worker.)

Anyhoo, hubs and I do remember me having acid reflex when my middle child had colic for 11 and a half months.  Yet somehow, I've not had many episodes of acid reflex despite my significant lack of sleep.  For the most part, I'm really careful about what I eat.  I thought this was why my GERD wasn't torturing me.

So, hubs trudged out to our local pharmacy and picked up melatonin.  I've taken it now for the last two nights and blissfully, I've not had much, if any, acid reflex.

It finally occurred to me today that until about a couple of years ago, I'd been taking melatonin every night for at least 25 years - well, more or less.  However, somehow the melatonin ball got dropped a couple of years ago.  Actually, for any number of reasons many balls got dropped and I've been slow on the uptake in getting those parts of my health routine back on course.  I suspect the melatonin ball wasn't picked up earlier because I've seen chatter on the Internet in using caution when thinking about taking melatonin for CFIDS and fibromyalgia.  I suppose I've sort of been - kinda, maybe - waiting in the sidelines for some sort of definitive answer one way of the other - or an excuse to go one way or the other with it.  (What, me not being able to make a decision?  Nah!)

Well, whatever the debate and results may be, the melatonin seems to have helped me in two aspects of this miserable time I'm having vis a vis the Cymbalta withdrawal.  I've had two days of little if any acid reflex (no Tums!) and two nights of sleep - and miracle of miracles, the sleep was refreshing!

How wonderful has this been?  Considering that one of the unfortunate problems that those of us with CFS and fibro have is that our sleep is non-restorative that's pretty darn good.  Lately my sleep has gotten worse, hard as that might be to imagine.  Actually, my sleep has felt positively destructive.  I feel as if I'm in much worse shape after sleep, as if I'm paying some sort of price for working so hard at getting to sleep and staying asleep.  It's gotten so bad that I've been thinking, "how long can I go with such an essential part of life being destructive?"   It's like being allergic to water - or oxygen!  

So, thanks Dr. Weil, for bringing that rather long-ago study (2007) to our attention.  And, of course, melatonin has some pretty great properties: it's supposedly good for our immune systems (which may be controversial when it comes to CFIDS but I'll chance it), great for antiaging and as an antioxidant. I'm sure my brain will get used to the melatonin after a bit and it's effectiveness will be almost zero as far as sleep is concerned, but if I can get a few nights of restorative sleep, I'll consider myself lucky.

In the meantime, I hope this is the end of the GERD.  Now, if I could just get over the other gazillion problems that I'm experiencing from my Cymbalta withdrawal.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy - if indeed I had one.

Is this melatonin thing not cool?  I'm so afraid that I might be jinxing this "find."  Perhaps a "knock on wood" and a tphoo! tphoo! tphoo! is needed - just in case!

In the meanwhile, I hope everyone is doing their very best, only better.  Ciao and paka!

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  1. I haven't had much reflux since my gallbladder was removed - it was the symptom I had daily for 5 years while my gallbladder was failing. I took a TON of Prilosec when it was prescription-only. Get a load of this...I stopped the daily Zyrtec-D late last year (for the first time since beginning it in May 2003). Given that I'm no longer taking an antihistamine/decongestant and the fact that pollen levels are astronomical, I realized that my allergy to the pollen has reawakened my reflux. There's a direct correlation. Every time I go outside for more than a minute or two, my throat begins to burn. It's the exact same feeling I had during my years of reflux. I'm taking a TON of OTC Pepcid Complete. As of now, I feel better taking Pepcid Complete than going back on Zyrtec-D and winding up with dental problems again.

    I took Melatonin several years ago and had to split the pill in thirds. You have to be careful because apparently the dose most often sold is actually too high for the majority of people to take. I figured it out the hard way when I would try to wake the next morning and it was like trying to force myself awake from anesthesia.

    Make sure you don't eat soon before bed, that your head is elevated, that you don't eat chocolate (red wine is also out) - the acid comes up when the sphincter at the base of the esophagus doesn't close properly.

    I'm SO happy for you that you found something that's working; that's wonderful. I wish you continued success and I hope it's a sign that you've officially turned a corner on this crap episode.

    1. Hi Melissa! Good to hear from you again!

      Thanks for the good wishes! If I'm not mistaken, my rheumy told me not too long ago that he was always taught that allergies and acid reflex come in the spring most. It would go along with what you describe - as well as my history.

      I'd not even thought of the gallbladder being a factor in this. It just shows you how much of an "in plain sight" person I am - I never remember anything once it's no longer bothering me. Good thing you're looking out for me! ;)

      Hope you're doing better with your migraines. I do worry! xx

  2. Check for low stomach acid and h. pylori infection as a cause of gerd. Melatonin to heal the damage.

    1. Thanks. Will hopefully be able to get to see my GI within the next couple of weeks and will mention it. Happy Holidays! xx

  3. Thanks for Posting ! first time I have found a genuine post related to Acid Reflux