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Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland (tiny organ near the center of the brain). Melatonin helps control the body’s sleep cycle, and is an antioxidant. It is also made in the laboratory and sold as a supplement.

Information about Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that has multiple effects including somnolence, and is believed to play a role in regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.  Melatonin is available over-the-counter and is reported to have beneficial effects on wellbeing and sleep. 

Liver safety of Melatonin

Melatonin has not been implicated in causing serum enzyme elevations or clinically apparent liver injury.  

Mechanism of action of Melatonin

Melatonin is a small molecular weight amine (N-actyl-5-methoxytryptamine) synthesized in the pineal gland from serotonin (5-HT).  Melatonin is released into the circulation in a circadian pattern, the plasma levels being low during the day and high at night.  In persons with normal sleep-wake patterns, peak melatonin values are present between 2:00 am and 4:00 am and drop before light onset in the morning.  Melatonin acts by engagement of melatonin receptors (MT-1 and MT-2) causing a reduction of body temperature and alternation of brain monoamine levels, which can induce somnolence.  Melatonin also has potent antioxidant activity and may have reproductive effects and modulate immune reactions. 

Clinical use of Melatonin

Melatonin has been proposed as therapy of sleep disturbances including insomnia and jet lag, but it has not been approved for this indication in the United States.  Melatonin is considered a nutritional supplement and is available over-the-counter in multiple generic forms and formulations.  Melatonin is also found in many herbal and nutrition supplement mixtures. 

Clinical use of Melatonin

A common dose is 10 mg once daily, taken orally one to three hours before sleep time. 

Side effects of Melatonin

Side effects are few but may include daytime somnolence and headache.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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