I realize it has been quite a while since my last post. However, this was some info that I really thought needed sharing. A patient of mine is having some difficulty sleeping. The counselor he is seeing recommended taking melatonin as a sleep aid, but asked that he clear it with his physician first as the patient has celiac disease. Truly, I thought that as long as the product was gluten-free, there should be no problem. However, being who I am, I decided to research the product just a bit. What I found  was news to me.
Melatonin , albeit natural, is a potent immunostimulator. In other words, it awakens the immune system causing it to become somewhat hyperactive. In doing so, melatonin increases Interleukin-1 and Interleukin-2, both strong inflammatory markers, thereby increasing the number of T-cells in the system. Together, these reactions stimulate the immune response and worsen already existing autoimmune diseases. In fact, the article that I read stated that Melatonin is absolutely contraindicated in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.
Now, the question still remains “How about Celiac Diseae?” In those of us with celiac disease, while on a strict gluten-free diet, we manifest no inflammatory response as we have removed the offending agent from the equation. So, theoretically, it should be safe to take melatonin. However, there is no research specific to melatonin and celiac disease, so I cannot recommend the use of this product presently.
As an aside, I also researched L-tryptophan as alternative sleep aid. According to the research I did, L-trytophan causes an autoimmune condition called eosinophillic myalgia syndrome, which can be severe if not treated in time. If one already has an underlying autoimmune condition, it is safe to say that we do not want to introduce a risk factor for developing another one.
If you would like to research these products on your own, you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin.