What is Melatonin? Indication, Dosage, used for and everything you want to know

I know you are on this post because you want to know about Melatonin. So read this precise post to know the basics of Melatonin, its deficiency, history of Melatonin, precautions as well as interactions of Melatonin.
what is melatonin
What is Melatonin?

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by a small gland of the brain, the pineal gland (also called epiphysis).

The secretion of melatonin is inhibited in the presence of light and stimulated when there is dark.

Through melatonin, the pineal gland informs the brain about the relative duration of the hours of darkness and lighting over a period of 24 h (daily cycle), but also throughout the year (seasonality). 

By secreting melatonin, the pineal gland "says" to the brain that it is dark and that this is the right time to sleep.

It is also found in naturally produced things but in very small amount. Things which contain Melatonin are: tomatoes, rice , potatoes, fenugreek seeds, alfalfa, fennel, poppy, flax, coriander and sunflower and many others.

Since the new regulations on natural health products came into effect, melatonin marketed in many countries as a synthetic product, entirely manufactured in the laboratories.

Because melatonin helps control sleep and wake cycles in human beings therefore it is also an active ingredient of many medical products specially medicines used for the treatment of sleep problems and jet lag.

There are two forms of melatonin. Immediate-release (regular) melatonin and sustained release melatonin. First one helps to fall asleep more quickly and that the second helps to stay asleep.

Melatonin Deficiency

The melatonin is not considered an essential nutrient, no recommended daily intake has been established. Therefor one can not speak about deficiency. 

However, researchers have noticed that people with certain health problems had melatonin levels below the average. Thus, people with heart disease have low melatonin levels, but it is unclear if this is a cause or a consequence.

The travelers and people who work according to rotating schedules frequently suffer from sleep disorders that seem caused by a change in their melatonin levels.

Moreover, prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields could inhibit production of melatonin. It was long thought that the production of melatonin decreased with age , but recent studies suggest that this is not the case.

History of Melatonin

In 1958, Aaron B. Lerner of Yale University, discovered MELATONIN . However, it was not much known until 1995, thanks to a media campaign orchestrated around the publication of a book named Melatonin: the fabulous natural drug for your body.

Melatonin, which was quickly dubbed as "miraculous hormone," gave rise to the wildest hopes.

Today, the tone is more moderate, but many researchers believe it has many therapeutic properties, including in the field of cancer treatment. Others believe that this product should be used with caution because it is a hormone and we still have little knowledge about the subtle long-term effects of this powerful substance.

Precautions about Melatonin


  • The use of melatonin in case of serious illness (cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, etc.) should be done under medical supervision .
  • Although melatonin is considered safe in the short term, we do not know the effects of a continuous use. However, in a study, followed children with disorders of circadian rhythms for almost 4 years: taking melatonin sustained release was well tolerated by the young participants.
  • Because of the risk of drowsiness, loss of alertness do not drive or operate machinery for next 4 to 5 hours after taking melatonin.
  • Note that, according to several clinical trials, when melatonin is taken at night to improve sleep, it does not affect awakening time.

Contraindications of Melatonin

Due to insufficient data, during pregnancy and breastfeeding woman should be cautious during the use of Melatonin.

Side effects of Melatonin

In clinical studies and during different experiments, melatonin caused drowsiness, nausea, headache and dizziness in human beings and animals.

Interactions of Melatonin

With plants or supplements

  • Theoretically, the effect of plants with sedative properties (chamomile, hops, passiflora, valerian, etc.) could be added to that of melatonin.
  • Melatonin may increase the risk of bleeding if taken simultaneously with plants or supplements with anticoagulant properties.

With medications

  • The fluvoxamine (Luvox ®), an antidepressant, can significantly increase the bioavailability of melatonin taken in supplement, which, according to some researchers, can be useful in case of refractory insomnia, but can also cause drowsiness and other adverse problems.
  • Anticoagulants, two trials on healthy subjects indicated that melatonin can affect blood coagulation. We do not know the clinical impact of this effect, but caution is advised for those taking anticoagulants.
  • Beta-blockers, these drugs are used in particular to treat hypertension; 2 of them, propranolol and atenolol may interfere with nighttime sleep, but according to two preliminary studies, melatonin may reduce this adverse situation.
  • Melatonin: On the shelves
  • Non-prescribed melatonin is available in two forms: immediate-release and sustained-release. In Europe, there is prescribed sustained-release melatonin as well, (Circadin®).
  • Supplements usually come in the form of tablets (1 mg to 5 mg) to swallow or under the tongue (sublingual).
  • Some manufacturers include melatonin in preparations containing other supplements (vitamin B6, theanine) or plants that help in sleep (passiflora and lemon balm, for example).
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