Articles

Melatonin

Introduction

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. For years, scientists have known that melatonin's main function was in the control of our sleep patterns. However, more recent research has revealed that it also functions as an important antioxidant. (1)

Melatonin does not occur in the diet, making supplementation the only source outside the body.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

0.5-3mg nightly.

Most Common Dosage

3mg nightly.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, sublingual tablets, and timed release tablets and capsules.

Interactions and Depletions

Depletions

Reported Uses

Melatonin is best known for its ability to help people get a more restful night’s sleep. Research indicates that low melatonin levels are a frequent cause of insomnia in the elderly. (2) Further research indicates that melatonin supplementation can induce sleep in people of all ages (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) and be of benefit to women experiencing menopause related insomnia. (7) , (8) Melatonin may help night shift workers, the blind, and people with jet lag adjust their sleep cycles. (9) , (10) , (11) Patients with sleep disorders when supplemented with melatonin experienced an increase in REM sleep. (12)

As melatonin levels decrease a distinct difference is noted between premenopausal women and postmenopausal women. (13) Most hormone levels change with age as well. One study evaluating the relationship between hormones, melatonin and menopause noted that menopausal women with the lowest levels of melatonin were able to appropriately influence these hormones while taking a melatonin supplement in the evening. These women also reported a better mood and less signs of depression. (14)

Melatonin has also shown promise in the treatment of breast cancer. Studies suggest that melatonin may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. (15) Additionally, low melatonin levels in women may be correlated with increased breast cancer risk. (16) Melatonin may enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs. (17)

Finally, people with tinnitus (permanent ringing of the ears) have benefited from melatonin supplementation. (18)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

This supplement should not be used in children unless recommended by your physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Oxenkrug G, Requintina P, Bachurin S. Antioxidant and antiaging activity of N-acetylserotonin and melatonin in the in vivo models. Ann N Y Acad Sci. Jun2001;939:190-9.
  2. Haimov I, et al. Sleep Disorders and Melatonin Rhythms in Elderly People. BMJ. Jul1994;309(6948):167.
  3. View Abstract: Waldhauser F, et al. Sleep Laboratory Investigations on Hypnotic Properties of Melatonin. Psychopharmacology. (Berl). 1990;100(2):222-26.
  4. View Abstract: Dahlitz M, et al. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome Response to Melatonin. Lancet. May1991;337(8750):1121-24.
  5. View Abstract: Attenburrow ME, et al. Low Dose Melatonin Improves Sleep in Healthy Middle-aged Subjects. Psychopharmacology. (Berl). Jul1996;126(2):179-81.
  6. View Abstract: Zhdanova IV, Wurtman RJ, Regan MM, Taylor JA, Shi JP, Leclair OU. Melatonin treatment for age-related insomnia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Oct2001;86(10):4727-30.
  7. View Abstract: Blaicher W, Speck E, Imhof MH, et al. Melatonin in postmenopausal females. Arch Gynecol Obstet. Feb2000;263(3):116-8.
  8. View Abstract: Brzezinski A. Melatonin replacement therapy" for postmenopausal women: is it justified? Menopause. Mar1998;5(1):60-4.
  9. View Abstract: Sack RL, et al. Melatonin as a Chronobiotic: Treatment of Circadian Desynchrony in Night Workers and the Blind. J Biol Rhythms. Dec1997;12(6):595-603.
  10. View Abstract: Petrie K, et al. A Double-blind Trial of Melatonin as a Treatment for Jet Lag in International Cabin Crew. Biol Psychiatry. Apr1993;33(7):526-30.
  11. View Abstract: Claustrat B, et al. Melatonin and Jet Lag: Confirmatory Result Using a Simplified Protocol. Biol Psychiatry. Oct1992;32(8):705-11.
  12. View Abstract: Kunz D, Mahlberg R, Muller C, Tilmann A, Bes F. Melatonin in patients with reduced REM sleep duration: two randomized controlled trials. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Jan2004;89(1):128-34.
  13. View Abstract: Okatani Y, Morioka N, Wakatsuki A. Changes in nocturnal melatonin secretion in perimenopausal women: correlation with endogenous estrogen concentrations. J Pineal Res. Mar2000;28(2):111-8.
  14. View Abstract: Bellipanni G, Bianchi P, Pierpaoli W, Bulian D, Ilyia E. Effects of melatonin in perimenopausal and menopausal women: a randomized and placebo controlled study. Exp Gerontol. Feb2001;36(2):297-310.
  15. View Abstract: Molis TM, et al. Melatonin Modulation of Estrogen-regulated Proteins, Growth Factors, and Proto-oncogenes in Human Breast Cancer. J Pineal Res. Mar1995;18(2):93-103.
  16. View Abstract: Danforth DN Jr, et al. Plasma Melatonin and the Hormone-dependency of Human Breast Cancer. J Clin Oncol. Jul1985;3(7):941-48.
  17. View Abstract: Lissoni P, et al. Efficacy of the Concomitant Administration of the Pineal Hormone Melatonin in Cancer Immunotherapy with Low-dose IL-2 in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors who had Progressed on IL-2 Alone. Oncology. Aug1994;51(4):344-47.
  18. View Abstract: Rosenberg SI, et al. Effect of Melatonin on Tinnitus. Laryngoscope. Mar1998;108(3):305-10.