Most people have heard of melatonin. It is a hormone that is naturally found in the body. Melatonin regulates the day and night cycles which helps our body fall asleep. When in the dark, our body produces more melatonin which prepares us for sleep. When experiencing light, the body produces less melatonin signaling wakefulness. Therefore, it has been shown that supplementing with melatonin can help with better sleep. However, besides helping the body with sleep, there are many other benefits to this great hormone as well.
Melatonin has powerful antioxidant properties that protect proteins and lipids against damage. It can rid the body of dangerous free radicals and also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, therefore protecting the brain. Since the body produces less melatonin as we age, we begin to lose these antioxidant protective properties and that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases. Supplementing with melatonin may help adults against diseases of aging like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or stroke.
Melatonin’s anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties also may help contribute to its benefits of migraine prevention. A study suggested that when patients were given melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime, two thirds of the group experienced a 50% reduction in number of headaches per month. Not only did amount of headaches decreased, but intensity and duration went down as well.
Lastly, there has been increasing evidence that melatonin can help fight cancer. There have been studies where patients were not responding to a chemotherapeutic agent, but after supplementing with melatonin the body began to respond to treatment. Not only did it help boost the effect of the chemotherapy, it also helped decrease the adverse effects associated with chemotherapy. Supplementation with melatonin was shown to reduce the relative risk of death at one year by 34% regardless of the type of cancer or melatonin dosage. This was concluded after conducting a meta-analysis of 10 randomized, controlled trials on how patients with various types of cancer responded to melatonin.
Penang Pham, Pharm.D.
Folsom Medical Pharmacy
Melatonin. Retrieved on 8/1/14. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/940.html
Melatonin. Retrieved on 8/1/14. http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/jun2007_nu_melatonin_01.htm
Melatonin is available at Folsom Medical Pharmacy as oral capsules, tablets, and delicious gummies. This forms do not require prescription and are readily available over the counter.