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What is Melatonin?

August 30, 2022 5 min read

What is Melatonin?

What is Melatonin?

The article tends to define, explore and explain further in detail by answering the following statements and questions. First, what is Melatonin? Is melatonin a drug or a supplement? What are the uses and effectiveness of this supplement? Side effects of using this drug. This article gives further expert instructions about melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone in the human body that help to control sleep cycles. It has become popular in most countries, with sales increasing by 150% from 2016 to the current date. However, people fear it is a medication that can potentially cause harm, especially to children. For example, research done in the USA, whereby the poison control center received thousands of calls about poisoned children who accidentally got into bottles of melatonin and others consuming worrisome amounts of the supplement may be given by their careless parents. Parents may think of melatonin as the equivalent of a vitamin; therefore, they give their kids to consume with good intentions.

What is Melatonin?

Hardeland et al. (2006) stated that melatonin could be produced naturally by the human body as a hormone or manufactured artificially in a medical laboratory.

Xie et al. (2017) said that human melatonin is a hormone your body induces in response to darkness. The pineal gland at the center of your brain is responsible for manufacturing the hormone. It regulates night and day cycles or aid in sleep-wake cycles whereby the nerves sense darkness, causing the gland to make more melatonin, and light decreases the production of the hormone. However, some individuals have sleeping disorders due to low levels of melatonin. Therefore, you can choose chemists or labs for the melatonin supplement/drug.

Synthetic melatonin is a medical drug/supplement manufactured in the lab to aid patients in certain conditions such as sleep-wake disorder, depression, anxiety in children, jet lag, chronic pains, and anxiety before and after surgery.

Is Melatonin a Drug or Supplement?

In countries such as the United States and Germany, Melatonin is known to be a dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not lay strict regulations on melatonin, classifying it as an over-the-counter drug. In several other countries, it is considered a drug and can only be offered in health centers or only available under doctors' prescription.

Uses and Effectiveness of Melatonin

Sanchez et al. (2011) explained the uses of melatonin as follows:

Sleeping Disorder

People may have trouble falling asleep at a conventional bedtime due to depression, blood pressure, and blindness. Taking melatonin seems to shorten the time one needs to fall asleep and even improve sleep in children. People taking beta-blocker drugs in cases of blood pressure reduce the body's anxiety, providing a good environment for body muscles to relax and inducing sleepiness.

Cancer Treatment

Some cancer medications such as chemotherapy are administered together with melatonin for better performance. They were taking high doses of melatonin orally or even as shot by a doctor together with cancer drugs may reduce tumor sizes and improve the rate of serving people with cancer.

Melatonin can improve platelet counts in people who suffer from thrombocytopenia. This help in the clotting of tumors, therefore increasing the chances of survival.

Uterine Disorder/ Endometriosis

People with painful uterine disorder require painkillers; orally taking melatonin seems to reduce pain; however, it is used with other prescribed drugs for the disorder. It is also used during menstruation to relieve clamps and intercourse for individuals with endometriosis.

Surgery Procedures

In adults, taking the latter under the tongue somehow reduces anxiety before surgery, increasing the chances of effective and efficient surgery. It calms down an individual's nerves by inducing more production of its kind from the pineal gland. It may not work in children; however, in some cases, rather than the surgery, it reduces the number of sedatives required for other medical processes in kids.

High Blood Pressure Treatment

Melatonin doesn't cure the pressure; however, taking it every night before you sleep seems to lower blood pressure in people suffering from this problem. It is important to know only the controlled-release form of melatonin works; an immediate release product doesn't do the trick.

Insomnia

It is a type of sleeping disorder that causes poor sleeping habits, mental health problems (acute), or depression that can be long-term (chronic) or short-term (acute). The product easily cures it by administering it orally. It shortens the time it takes one with insomnia to fall asleep. It is more effective for the older than for the young generation.

Jet Lag Disorder

Like insomnia, jetlag is a temporary sleeping problem that only affects people who quickly travel to many countries across different time zones. It is temporary since it takes a maximum of 8 days. Alertness is one of the major symptoms of the disorder where melatonin improves by reducing the body's senses causing better sleep.

Migraines

It is a headache that mostly occurs on one side of the head and is known to be extremely painful. It makes one very sensitive to rights and sounds, affecting sleeping. Melatonin prevents migraines; however, it doesn't treat them. It is advisable to take it during bedtime to calm the nerves, reducing sensitivity caused by the disorder.

Side Effects of Using Melatonin

Anderson et al. (2012) stated that it is safe for most adults if used in the short term. In the long term causes, it can cause various side effects, including vomiting, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and daytime sleepiness. Also, in some cases, it can cause nightmares and bed wetting for children, stomach cramps, gynecomastia, and even a decrease in sperm counts in men. People taking melatonin should also consider the following factors:

Mental Disorder

It is not advisable for people with dementia to take it since it worsens the symptoms

Pregnancy

It might interfere with fertility, the pregnancy itself, and breastfeeding.

Allergic Reactions

People under prescriptions shouldn't take them since they can cause allergic reactions or worsen the allergy disorder.

Hormonal Problems

It is important to consult a medical officer before using melatonin in people with hormone-related issues.

Age as Factor

Kids require lower doses of melatonin since a high dosage can lead to poisoning or even the risk of seizures. Consult a pediatrician in cases of young kids to avoid complications.

Contraceptive Drugs

Birth control pills increase the production of natural melatonin by the brain; therefore, taking melatonin along with a pill can increase the side effects of melatonin.

Anti-diabetes Drugs

Melatonin lowers blood sugar levels. Diabetes medication taken along with the latter might cause blood sugar to drop too low, causing other complications.

Conclusion

Synthetic melatonin is a product that, in the last 2 years, has gained popularity because many people are suffering from sleeping problems. At the same time, the world is 24 hours active. Shift workers take this product for effective production and help them to utilize the little time they get asleep. Melatonin has various benefits; however, excessive or long-term usage can lead to worse side effects explained in the article. It is always safe to take the supplement or what other refers to as a drug under medical personnel prescription.

References

Anderson, G., & Maes, M. (2012). Melatonin: an overlooked factor in schizophrenia and in the inhibition of anti-psychotic side effects. Metabolic brain disease27(2), 113-119.

Hardeland, R., Pandi-Perumal, S. R., & Cardinali, D. P. (2006). Melatonin. The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology38(3), 313-316.

Sánchez-Barceló, E. J., Mediavilla, M. D., & Reiter, R. J. (2011). Clinical uses of melatonin in pediatrics. International journal of pediatrics2011.

Xie, Z., Chen, F., Li, W. A., Geng, X., Li, C., Meng, X., ... & Yu, F. (2017). A review of sleep disorders and melatonin. Neurological research39(6), 559-565.