What Is Melatonin?


Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland. That’s a pea-sized gland found just above the middle of your brain. It helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.

Normally, your body makes more melatonin at night. Levels usually start to go up in the evening once the sun sets. They drop in the morning when the sun goes up. The amount of light you get each day — plus your own body clock — set how much your body makes.

You can also buy melatonin supplements. They come in pills, liquids, and chewables. You might find them in natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms are made from the pineal gland in animals.

Why Take It?

People use melatonin when they have insomnia — trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. They also take it for other sleep problems. This could include something called delayed sleep phase disorder. If you have that, falling asleep before 2 a.m. is tough. So is getting up in the morning.

Folks may also try it if they have jobs that disrupt typical sleep schedules, a condition called sleep work disorder.

It’s used to treat or prevent jet lag, too. That’s the tired, run-down feeling some get when they’re traveling across time zones.

Doctors are also studying to see if melatonin can help with:

Is It Safe?

While melatonin generally brings fewer side effects than other sleep medicines, you could still have:

Melatonin supplements might cause problems if you take them with some medicines, including:

Tell your doctor if you’re thinking about taking any supplement, especially if you take any medicine or have a health condition.

The natural form of melatonin might have a virus or other issues. If you take melatonin, pick a synthetic type.

How Well Does It Work?

Everybody reacts differently to medicines and supplements, so melatonin may or may not work for you.

Some studies say it could help with jet lag and some sleep issues like delayed sleep phase disorder, shift work disorder, and some sleep disorders with children.

Other research shows it may let people with insomnia fall asleep slightly faster. It may also help you sleep better through the night, but not necessarily longer.

Still more studies have shown that melatonin doesn’t help sleep problems at all. There’s also not enough research to say it helps with any issues not related to sleep.

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What Is Melatonin?


Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland. That’s a pea-sized gland found just above the middle of your brain. It helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.

Normally, your body makes more melatonin at night. Levels usually start to go up in the evening once the sun sets. They drop in the morning when the sun goes up. The amount of light you get each day — plus your own body clock — set how much your body makes.

You can also buy melatonin supplements. They come in pills, liquids, and chewables. You might find them in natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms are made from the pineal gland in animals.

Why Take It?

People use melatonin when they have insomnia — trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. They also take it for other sleep problems. This could include something called delayed sleep phase disorder. If you have that, falling asleep before 2 a.m. is tough. So is getting up in the morning.

Folks may also try it if they have jobs that disrupt typical sleep schedules, a condition called sleep work disorder.

It’s used to treat or prevent jet lag, too. That’s the tired, run-down feeling some get when they’re traveling across time zones.

Doctors are also studying to see if melatonin can help with:

Is It Safe?

While melatonin generally brings fewer side effects than other sleep medicines, you could still have:

Melatonin supplements might cause problems if you take them with some medicines, including:

Tell your doctor if you’re thinking about taking any supplement, especially if you take any medicine or have a health condition.

The natural form of melatonin might have a virus or other issues. If you take melatonin, pick a synthetic type.

How Well Does It Work?

Everybody reacts differently to medicines and supplements, so melatonin may or may not work for you.

Some studies say it could help with jet lag and some sleep issues like delayed sleep phase disorder, shift work disorder, and some sleep disorders with children.

Other research shows it may let people with insomnia fall asleep slightly faster. It may also help you sleep better through the night, but not necessarily longer.

Still more studies have shown that melatonin doesn’t help sleep problems at all. There’s also not enough research to say it helps with any issues not related to sleep.

Technology and social media are feeding addictive behaviors and mental illness in society


Image: Technology and social media are feeding addictive behaviors and mental illness in society

Smart phones and tablets have become a cancerous growth in our lives – never leaving us, feeding off our essence, and sucking away our attention, life, and energy. Social media is like an aggressive form of brain cancer, attaching to our mind, addicting us to cheap dopamine rushes, replacing human interaction with a digital façade of living. Stealing away our time, technology has become a disease that infiltrates our mental and social health, leaving us depressed, anxious, worried, envious, arrogant, and socially isolated.

What we type and text to others causes over-thinking, rumination, and misunderstanding. The way we respond with type and text can be misinterpreted, leading to social strain in relationships. Digital communication lacks the natural flow of body language, eye contact, touch, voice inflection, tone, and real-life rapport. Accustomed to digital communication, people lose their ability to have adult conversations. This hurts everyone’s ability to work together, discuss ideas, solve problems, and overcome multi-faceted challenges.

Popular social media platforms prey on human weaknesses

On Facebook, the pursuit of likes and comments can become an addicting sensation. When the attention fails to come in, the Facebook user may feel unheard or undesirable. When the user sees their friends getting more likes, they may perceive other people having a better life than they do, leading to depressed feelings. (Related: Former Facebook exec: “Social media is ripping society apart.“)

On Twitter, communication is limited to short bursts. These bursts encourage people to engage in divisive language that is used in inflammatory ways and is easily misunderstood. Twitter is used to build a “following” which becomes a high-school-esque popularity contest that easily inflates egos and gives a platform to the most annoying ones in the bunch.

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Instagram and Snapchat have become more popular as well, making users anxious to show off their lives online 24-7. This infatuation with documenting every moment is an anxious, self-absorbed way to live and it does the person no good, because these technology gimmicks interrupt the actual moment and disturb the flow of real life. Do we really think that everyone cares about every picture, every meal, and everything that we do? As the digital world continues to bloat up with information, pictures, and voices, all of it loses its value and sacredness. Over time, no one genuinely cares. The louder a person gets on social media, the more annoying they are perceived.

Technology addiction destroys sleep, leads teenagers to other addictive substances

As parents pacify their children with screens, the children are exposed to constant light stimulation which excites brain chemicals. The colorful games and videos over-stimulate the child’s mind, making them addicted to the sensation. Consequentially the child becomes more restless and behavioral distress increases over the long term.

Technology has made our lives more selfish, isolated, and interrupted. Social media has preyed on our weaknesses, trapping us in its mesmerizing facade of happiness. According to SurvivoPedia, teenagers who spend more than five hours a day on their devices are at a 72 percent higher risk for suicide risk factors. In order to alleviate the mental health issues associated with social media, teenagers may turn to other addictive substances to take the edge off.

Additionally, these devices interfere with healthy sleep patterns — which are essential for proper brain development. The onslaught of blue light and electromagnetic frequency interferes with healthy melatonin levels in the brain. The things that we post online can keep us up at night as well. The addiction to check the phone for responses and likes can keep a person up, too. All this brain excitement and depression throws off the body’s circadian rhythm, leading to poor sleep and mental fatigue during the daytime.

Check out more on mental health at Mind.News.

Sources include:

SurvivoPedia.com

NaturalNews.com

NaturalNews.com

Could melatonin be the key to healthy aging?


https://speciality.medicaldialogues.in/could-melatonin-be-the-key-to-healthy-aging/

4 Things You Must Know About Your ‘Third Eye’ – One Of The BIGGEST Secret Kept From Humanity


Located in nearly the direct center of the brain, the tiny pinecone-shaped pineal gland, which habitually secretes the wondrous neurohormone melatonin while we sleep at night, was once thought to be a vestigial leftover from a lower evolutionary state.

Video

Indeed, according to recent research, we could be increasing our chances of contracting chronic illnesses like cancer by unnecessarily bathing its evenings in artificial light, working night shifts or staying up too late. By disrupting the pineal gland and melatonin’s chronobiological connection to Earth’s rotational 24-hour light and dark cycle, known as its circadian rhythm, we’re possibly opening the doors not to perception, but to disease and disorder. A recently published study from Vanderbilt University has found associations between circadian disruption and heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

By hacking what pinealophiles call our mind’s third eye with an always-on technoculture transmitting globally at light-speed, we may have disadvantaged our genetic ability to ward off all manner of complicated nightmares. No wonder the pineal gland is a pop-culture staple for sci-fi, fantasy and horror fandom, as well as a mass attractor of mystics and mentalists. Its powers to divide and merge our light and dark lives only seems to grow the more we take it seriously.

We still lack a complete understanding of the pineal gland,” University of Michigan professor of physiology and neurology Jimo Borjigin, a pioneer in medical visualization of the pineal gland’s melatonin secretion, says. “Numerous molecules are found in the pineal, many of which are uniquely found at night, and we do not have a good idea of what their functions are. The only function that is established beyond doubt is the melatonin synthesis and secretion at night, which is controlled by the central clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and modulated by light. All else is speculative.”

Discerning between the science and speculation of the pineal gland hasn’t been easy since long before Rene Descartes called it the principal seat of the soul after studying it at length nearly four centuries ago. (Although “no evidence exists to support this,” clarified Borjigin.) So here’s a handy shortlist of things you should know about the pineal gland.

1. Third Eyes and Theosophistry

The current scientific understanding is that the pineal gland probably started out as an eye, and it receives signals from light and our retinas. Whether it was our only eye which shrunk into the brain once its perceptive tasks were taken care of by our two newer eyes, or whether it was a third eye with a spiritual and physical connection to previous spiritual and evolutionary states, or both, has galvanized science and speculation for centuries.

Earth’s ancient cultural histories are filled with folklore featuring both one-eyed and three-eyed beings of great power, from Shiva and Cyclops to that amiable fellow in The Twilight Zone’s classic episode, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? and beyond. (From Beyond even: See below.) Associations can be found in Hinduism, whose seventh primary chakra Sahasara is a multilayered lotus that looks like the pineal gland’s pinecone, and whose primary function is to perceive universal oneness, scientifically and spiritually speaking. Theosophists, who have been studying what they perceive as hidden knowledge since the Greeks and Romans ruled philosophical and scientific inquiry, have more recently claimed that the pineal gland is the spiritual engine of our evolution into “embryo gods, beings of consciousness and matter.”

That description seems apt, given the astronomical power we have achieved in a few million yeas of evolution. While Homo sapiens’ third eyes likely transformed into pineal glands along the way, today we can still find animals with photoreceptive third eyes, now called parietal eyes, like New Zealand’s endangered tuatara. Fossils from other ancient creatures feature similar sockets in their skulls, making our pineal gland a candidate for an ex-eye.

2. What Was Once Hidden Is Now Hi-Res

pineal-gland-1

Michigan University professor Borjigin and his team are hard at work on how the pineal gland and melatonin regulate our lives.

“The central circadian clock controls timing of almost all aspects of our life, including physiology and behavior, and melatonin is the best marker to decode the fingerprints of circadian timing in both humans and animals,” he said. “In the past, it was very difficult to study circadian properties of melatonin in animals due to technical limitations. My lab invented long-term pineal microdialysis, which permits automated, computer-controlled and high-resolution analysis of melatonin secretion from rodent pineal gland from four to 10 weeks in the same animal.”

These visualizations could go a long way toward understanding how to hack melatonin, which the pineal gland secretes when we sleep and helps the brain repair and sync our bodies to Earth’s rotation. Melatonin is a stunning compound, found naturally in plants, animals and microbes. A powerful antioxidant, its list of its medicinal uses only seems to grow each year, as we learn more about its ability to help with immune disorders, chronic illnesses, and neurodegeneration.

“Pineal microdialysis allows us to monitor melatonin secretion closely under various conditions to simulate jet lag, shiftwork, light pollution, diet manipulation and more to define the fingerprints of circadian response to environment,” he added. “It also allows us to discover animals with extreme chronotypes, like early-birds or night-owls, to understand how individuals with different chronotype respond to circadian challenges differently. These are still ongoing studies, but hopefully some of the works will be published this year.”

3. Artificial Light = Dark Future

What has been recently published about melatonin is already pretty significant, especially for those looking to combat breast and prostate cancer. Harvard University School of Public Health researcher Itai Kloog and his group published a series of studies in the last few years explaining how our “modern urbanized sleeping habitat” (PDF) is a massive hormone-based cancer risk. “We have blotted out the night sky” with artificial light, wrote Earth Island Journal’s Holly Hayworth,” citing Kloog’s research and noting that half that light is wasted anyway.

“We’ve proven beyond a doubt that it’s a risk factor,” Kloog told me. “Light at night has been proven on many levels, by our group and many others, to definitely contribute to higher risk of developing hormonal cancer.”

Kloog’s team published five studies altogether, including analyses at local and global levels, and all of them found firm correlations between circadian and melatonin disruption and higher risks of cancer. Analyzing NASA’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program archive (to illuminate Earth’s light-at-night coverage) and data from the World Health Organization, Kloog’s group “found clearly that as women were more exposed to light at nighttime, their rates of breast cancer went up. Our Israel study found that going from minimum exposure to average exposure to light at night resulted in a 36 percent higher standard rate of breast cancer, and going from average to maximum was another 26 percent increase.”

Using kernel smoothing to create density maps showing light exposure and cancer rates, Kloog’s team found that another of its studies, which sourced more than 20,000 light sources by height and intensity, showed a clear association. For their two worldwide studies, they developed an algorithm to assign population weight average light exposure for every person in every city across the world, using WHO data, and again they found a clear association between cancer and light at night.

“For average light exposure per person, if you take an underdeveloped country like Nepal, we’re talking about 0.02 nanowatts per centimeter squared,” Kloog explained. “Compare that to the United States, where the average light exposure of a person is 57.5. Up until around 120 years ago, humans were basically exposed to 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness on average, seasons and latitudes permitting of course. But since the invention of the lightbulb, we’ve artificially stretched the day. We go to sleep late at night, we have lights on while we sleep, we have a shorter sleep duration. We have a lot of factors stretching out our days, relative to the light period we experienced during millions of years of previous evolution.”

“It’s something that’s easy to take out of the equation,” Kloog told me. “Go to sleep in a dark room. Use less light. Close the shutters. Circadian disruption is carcinogenic to humans.”

4. Occult Classic

This is not to say that late-night viewing itself isn’t good for the mind, especially when it comes to pineal glands and third eyes. Because pineal glands and third eyes remain singular components of an otherwise binary brain with an extraordinary past, they have stimulated some stranger explorations of their spiritual and supernatural possibility. The pineal gland’s circadian dualism has achieved particular resonance with influential occultists like horror influential H.P. Lovecraft. Who, in turn, have spawned new generations of speculative talents that have used it as a quite flexible receptacle for expansive meaning.

“My first exposure to the pineal gland came from Stuart Gordon’s movie adaptation of Lovecraft’s From Beyond,” Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of the cult sci-fi television classic The Middleman, told AlterNet. “In truth, everything I know about that particular endocrine body probably derives from that seminal experience, which explains why I am a television writer and not a brain surgeon.”

In From Beyond, a supernaturally activated pineal gland turns mad scientists into brain-eating zombies. The recently reissued 1957 exploitation film She Devil features a “female monster” whose hyperstimulated pineal gland turns her into “a demon, a devil, a creature with a warped soul!” In both films, and many other third-eye head-trips, the pineal gland functions as a sexualized organ, rather than a circadian regulator. Today, some use melatonin supplements, available since the ’90s, to aid with sexual dysfunction. But the pineal gland’s expansive mythic and scientific history has much broader applications when it comes to folklore and entertainment.

“In The Middleman, we quickly discovered that because this most mysterious of glands is so misunderstood, even though its very name connotes a certain frisson of scientific accuracy and technical understanding, it was a fantastic shorthand for whatever otherworldly qualities we needed to justify,” Grillo-Marxuach added. “Over the course of 12 episodes, the pineal gland became the source of psychic ability, communication between parallel dimensions, the magical influence of succubi and incubi over the libidos of ordinary mortals and, finally, the power source for our main supervillain’s armageddon device. Since Stuart Gordon and H.P. Lovecraft gave me such a gift in my teenage years by providing me with so fanciful an understanding of cerebral anatomy, I figured I’d pay the favor forward as many times as possible.”

Food-Sourced Melatonin Provides Natural Way to Help Sleep


Food-Sourced Melatonin Provides Natural Way to Help Sleep

Studies on melatonin have documented that the body’s own melatoninproduction helps us fall asleep, yet research on supplemental melatonin has been disappointing. What many have missed is that certain foods provide natural forms of melatonin, which have been shown to raise melatonin blood levels naturally and significantly aid sleep.

An abundance of research has linked higher melatonin levels with the ability to fall asleep. Yet this research has been done on the body’s own melatonin production. Melatonin production is stimulated by the pineal gland as the sun sets and the lights dim during the later evening. This helps us fall asleep, as melatonin helps slow down cellular metabolism.

As most of us age, and especially with higher stress levels, our body’s ability to produce melatonin wanes. This can produce a chronic issue of sleeplessness – which has the potential for producing greater risk of various disorders as we age – as lack of sleep quality has been linked with a myriad of chronic disorders, from chronic fatigue to dementia.

Does Supplement Melatonin Work and Is It Safe?

Yet synthetic melatonin – either produced in the lab or from cow urine – does not produce the same effects as the body’s own (endogenous) melatonin. Some studies have shown that synthetic melatonin can help ones sleep-phase cycles slightly – helping during jet lag or similar situations – when our sleep cycles get messed up.

But as a sleep inducer – synthetic melatonin has been disappointing at best. Some research – such as studies by Dement and Vaughan (1999) – has even found that synthetic melatonin can stunt growth among younger people along with producing a myriad of other side effects such as dizziness and headaches.

Furthermore, supplemental melatonin’s effectiveness as a sleep aid has been shown to be questionable. In an extensive review by researchers from the University of Alberta (Buscemi et al. 2004) prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 932 studies on melatonin since 1999 were analyzed—with 132 being qualified as offering clear results with good protocols. The study concluded that supplemental melatonin was:
• Not effective for treatment of most primary sleep disorders
• Not effective in treating most secondary sleep disorders
• Offered no evidence of effectiveness for jet lag and shift-worker disorders

Certain Natural Foods Provide a Safe Means of Melatonin

Yet little attention has been put on the fact that nature provides another means for increasing blood melatonin levels – by eating certain natural foods.

And recently, research from Thailand’s Khon Kaen University has found that the body’s levels of melatonin can be naturally raised through eating of some tropical fruits.

The researchers used a crossover study design with 30 healthy human subjects to see which fruits – tropical fruits selected for their melatonin content – would naturally raise the body’s melatonin levels.

The researchers tested six tropical fruits among the volunteers, giving them a diet heavy in that particular fruit for one week following a one-week washout. During these periods the researchers analyzed the subjects’ urine levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin – also referred to as aMT6s.

Higher levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin or aMT6s in the urine indicates higher levels of melatonin circulating within the bloodstream.

With each different fruit, the subjects’ aMT6s levels were tested. The 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels after eating some fruits – notably pineapples, bananas and oranges – increased significantly. Pineapples increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels by over two-and-a-half times (266%) while banana increased aMT6s levels by 180% – almost double. Meanwhile, oranges increased aMT6s levels by 47%.

The other fruits also moderately increased melatonin content among the patients.

Other Foods also Provide Melatonin Safely

Other research – as reported by Realnatural – has shown that natural melatonin from red tart Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus) can increase sleep efficiency and quality. A study from an international group of researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice for seven days increased sleep by an average of 34 minutes a night – by speeding up falling to sleep – and increased sleep efficiency by 5-6%.

And like the study from Thailand, the research found that drinking cherry juice increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels naturally – without the need of exogenous or synthetic melatonin supplements.

Other foods that naturally increase melatonin levels include oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, mangosteen and barley.

Food-Sourced Melatonin Provides Natural Way to Help Sleep


Food-Sourced Melatonin Provides Natural Way to Help Sleep

Studies on melatonin have documented that the body’s own melatoninproduction helps us fall asleep, yet research on supplemental melatonin has been disappointing. What many have missed is that certain foods provide natural forms of melatonin, which have been shown to raise melatonin blood levels naturally and significantly aid sleep.

An abundance of research has linked higher melatonin levels with the ability to fall asleep. Yet this research has been done on the body’s own melatonin production. Melatonin production is stimulated by the pineal gland as the sun sets and the lights dim during the later evening. This helps us fall asleep, as melatonin helps slow down cellular metabolism.

As most of us age, and especially with higher stress levels, our body’s ability to produce melatonin wanes. This can produce a chronic issue of sleeplessness – which has the potential for producing greater risk of various disorders as we age – as lack of sleep quality has been linked with a myriad of chronic disorders, from chronic fatigue to dementia.

Does Supplement Melatonin Work and Is It Safe?

Yet synthetic melatonin – either produced in the lab or from cow urine – does not produce the same effects as the body’s own (endogenous) melatonin. Some studies have shown that synthetic melatonin can help ones sleep-phase cycles slightly – helping during jet lag or similar situations – when our sleep cycles get messed up.

But as a sleep inducer – synthetic melatonin has been disappointing at best. Some research – such as studies by Dement and Vaughan (1999) – has even found that synthetic melatonin can stunt growth among younger people along with producing a myriad of other side effects such as dizziness and headaches.

Furthermore, supplemental melatonin’s effectiveness as a sleep aid has been shown to be questionable. In an extensive review by researchers from the University of Alberta (Buscemi et al. 2004) prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 932 studies on melatonin since 1999 were analyzed—with 132 being qualified as offering clear results with good protocols. The study concluded that supplemental melatonin was:
• Not effective for treatment of most primary sleep disorders
• Not effective in treating most secondary sleep disorders
• Offered no evidence of effectiveness for jet lag and shift-worker disorders

Certain Natural Foods Provide a Safe Means of Melatonin

Yet little attention has been put on the fact that nature provides another means for increasing blood melatonin levels – by eating certain natural foods.

And recently, research from Thailand’s Khon Kaen University has found that the body’s levels of melatonin can be naturally raised through eating of some tropical fruits.

The researchers used a crossover study design with 30 healthy human subjects to see which fruits – tropical fruits selected for their melatonin content – would naturally raise the body’s melatonin levels.

The researchers tested six tropical fruits among the volunteers, giving them a diet heavy in that particular fruit for one week following a one-week washout. During these periods the researchers analyzed the subjects’ urine levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin – also referred to as aMT6s.

Higher levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin or aMT6s in the urine indicates higher levels of melatonin circulating within the bloodstream.

With each different fruit, the subjects’ aMT6s levels were tested. The 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels after eating some fruits – notably pineapples, bananas and oranges – increased significantly. Pineapples increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels by over two-and-a-half times (266%) while banana increased aMT6s levels by 180% – almost double. Meanwhile, oranges increased aMT6s levels by 47%.

The other fruits also moderately increased melatonin content among the patients.

Other research – as reported by Realnatural – has shown that natural melatonin from red tart Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus) can increase sleep efficiency and quality. A study from an international group of researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice for seven days increased sleep by an average of 34 minutes a night – by speeding up falling to sleep – and increased sleep efficiency by 5-6%.

And like the study from Thailand, the research found that drinking cherry juice increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels naturally – without the need of exogenous or synthetic melatonin supplements.

Other foods that naturally increase melatonin levels include oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, mangosteen and barley.

Can Melatonin and 5-HTP Improve Your Sleep?


An estimated 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, according to the documentary “Sleepless in America,” with many getting less than five hours of sleep per night.

Melatonin Levels

Story at-a-glance

  • Melatonin significantly reduced or prevented jet lag when taken close to the target bedtime at the destination
  • Melatonin may decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and improve total sleep time and quality
  • Your body produces 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) from the amino acid tryptophan
  • 5-HTP works in your brain and central nervous system by promoting the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and thereby may help boost mood and enhance sleep

There are many reasons for this, from intentionally staying up late to watch TV or surf the web to health problems (like pain) that keep you awake.

Millions of Americans struggle to fall asleep each night, including about 10 percent who suffer from chronic insomnia. This latter condition involves difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as waking up too early in the morning.

In many cases, making changes to your sleep-hygiene routine and lifestyle, such as exercising more and avoiding exposure to blue light at night, can significantly improve your sleep.

However, if you feel like you’ve tried virtually everything and you’re still struggling to get a restful night’s sleep, it might be time to consider two natural supplements, melatonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).

Why Melatonin Is Important for Sound Sleep

Your brain typically starts secreting the hormone melatonin around 9 or 10 p.m., which makes you sleepy. These regularly occurring secretions help regulate your sleep cycle as well as provide other important health benefits, including helping to prevent cancer.

Melatonin acts as a marker of your circadian phase or biological timing. In a nutshell, this hormone influences what time of day or night your body thinks it is, regardless of what time the clock on the wall displays.

Melatonin is produced by a pea-sized gland in the middle of your brain called the pineal gland.

In a normal night’s sleep, your melatonin levels stay elevated for about 12 hours. Then, as the sun rises, your pineal gland reduces your production of melatonin, and the levels in your blood decrease until they’re hardly measurable at all.

When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, such as from shift work, jet lag or nighttime light exposure, your body produces less melatonin.

Melatonin deficiency may come with some profound biological disadvantages, such as higher levels of inflammation, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of cancer.

Who May Benefit From Melatonin Supplements?

It is best to encourage your body to produce its own melatonin. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night.

If you are in darkness all day long, it can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.

So one of the best ways to increase your melatonin production naturally is to get exposure to bright sunlight during the day and sleep in complete blackness at night. Supplementation may be beneficial in some cases, particularly if your circadian rhythm is off (such as from jet lag).

In a Cochrane review that analyzed 10 randomized trials, melatonin significantly reduced or prevented jet lag when taken close to the target bedtime at the destination.

The researchers recommended melatonin for adult travelers flying across five or more time zones, particularly in the eastern direction, and, if necessary, for those flying across two to four time zones.1

A recent review published in the French journal Annales Pharmaceutiques Françaises further revealed the importance of melatonin in regulating the body’s internal clock for optimal sleep:2

“The internal or biological clock which is located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus is controlled by clock genes and environmental factors which are able to synchronize the clock to 24h.

Rhythm desynchronization (shiftwork and nightwork, transmeridian flights, aging, some psychiatric diseases, blindness, intake of some drugs … ) occurs when the internal clock does no longer work in harmony with the astronomical time i.e. our watch.

The circadian system consists of three major elements, which are the clock, the retinohypothalamic tract and melatonin which is secreted by the pineal gland and considered as the arrow of the clock.

Both light and melatonin present a phase response curve useful for the treatment of sleep circadian disorders.”

More Is Not Typically Better With Melatonin Supplementation

As for dosage, the researchers noted, “Daily doses of melatonin between 0.5 and 5 mg [milligrams] are similarly effective, except that people fall asleep faster and sleep better after 5 mg than 0.5 mg. Doses above 5 mg appear to be no more effective.”

In a study looking into the use of melatonin for primary sleep disorders, the supplement also appeared safe and effective, working to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and improve total sleep time and quality.3

Keep in mind that only a very small dose is required — typically 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg to start with, and you can adjust it up from there.

Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so adjust your dose carefully and, ideally, under the guidance of a holistic health care practitioner.

In addition, melatonin supplementation may be most effective in people with low melatonin levels. If your levels are optimized, you may not experience additional sleep benefits from added supplementation.

Melatonin’s Link to Diabetes Risk

About one-third of people are thought to carry a gene variant to melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B), which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden has now revealed that the effect of melatonin is stronger in carriers of this genetic variant, and this may be responsible for the increased diabetes risk.4

The study involved 23 carriers of the genetic variant and 22 non-carriers. Both groups received 4 mg of melatonin at bedtime for three months. The variant carriers had lowered insulin secretion and significantly higher blood sugar levels after melatonin supplementation.

Similar results were first demonstrated in lab-cultured beta cells and mice, which showed melatonin causes insulin-producing cells to reduce insulin release via signaling from MTNR1B melatonin receptor proteins.

Mice with disrupted MTNR1B receptors produced more insulin, but in people with the aforementioned genetic variant, the amount of MTNR1B protein on insulin-producing cells is increased.

Since the cells then become more sensitive to melatonin, they produce less insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels. As reported by Medical News Today:5

“Senior investigator Dr. Hindrik Mulder, a professor specializing in molecular metabolism at Lund’s Diabetes Center, says their findings could explain why the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher in people who work overnight or who have sleeping disorders.”

What Is 5-HTP and How Does It Affect Sleep?

Your body produces 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) from the amino acid tryptophan (found in foods like poultry, eggs and cheese).

However, eating tryptophan-rich foods is not likely to significantly increase your 5-HTP levels, so 5-HTP supplements (which are made from extracts of the seeds of the African tree Griffonia simplicifolia) are sometimes used.

The chemical 5-HTP works in your brain and central nervous system by promoting the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and thereby may help boost mood and enhance sleep.

In one study, an amino acid preparation containing both GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) and 5-HTP reduced time to fall asleep, increased the duration of sleep and improved sleep quality.6 Further, as noted by the University of Maryland Medical Center:7

“In one study, people who took 5-HTP went to sleep quicker and slept more deeply than those who took a placebo. Researchers recommend 200 to 400 mg at night to stimulate serotonin, but it may take six to 12 weeks to be fully effective.”

There may be some beneficial “side effects” to 5-HTP as well. Research suggests the supplement naturally reduces appetite and food intake (including reduced carbohydrate consumption) and is associated with significant weight loss.8

Another study found 5-HTP led to significant improvements in symptoms of fibromyalgia as well, with only mild and transient side effects reported.9 The anti-depressant properties of 5-HTP are also of interest, and preliminary research suggests it may work as well as certain antidepressants in people with mild to moderate depression.10

Try Natural Sleep Aids Before Sleeping Pills

Natural sleep aids work with your body’s natural circadian rhythm to help you get truly restful sleep. This is not the case with prescription sleeping pills. A study in 2012 revealed that people who take sleeping pills are not only at higher risk (by 35 percent) for certain cancers, but they are also nearly four times as likely to die as people who don’t take them. The list of health risks from sleeping pills includes:

  • Higher risk of death, including from accidents
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Increased insulin resistance, food cravings, weight gain and diabetes
  • Complete amnesia, even from events that occurred during the day
  • Depression, confusion, disorientation, and hallucinations

Research involving data from more than 10,500 people who received drugs for poor sleep (including benzodiazepines) also showed that “as predicted, patients prescribed any hypnotic had substantially elevated hazards of dying compared to those prescribed no hypnotics.”

The association held true even when patients with poor health were taken into account — and even if the patients took fewer than 18 pills in a year.11 In “The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills,” an e-book by one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Daniel Kripke, it’s explained:12

“The patients who took sleeping pills died 4.6 times as often during follow-ups averaging 2.5 years. Patients who took higher doses (averaging over 132 pills per year) died 5.3 times as often. It seems quite likely that the sleeping pills were causing early death for many of the patients …

Theoretically, there could be confounding factors or biases in the selection of patients which caused these deaths without involving sleeping pills. We can only say that we found almost no evidence of such biases … If sleeping pills cause even a small portion of the excess deaths and cancers associated with their use, they are too dangerous to use.”

Try This First for Better Sleep Starting Tonight

If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene, but to start, consider implementing the following changes. If you’ve tried these steps and are still having trouble sleeping, you may want to consider melatonin or 5-HTP.

Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 p.m., and these devices emit light that may stifle that process. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) now states:13

” … [N]ighttime electric light can disrupt circadian rhythms in humans and documents the rapidly advancing understanding from basic science of how disruption of circadian rhythmicity affects aspects of physiology with direct links to human health, such as cell cycle regulation, DNA damage response, and metabolism.”

Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.

Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. The slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your body’s clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your radio up at night or get rid of it altogether.

Move all electrical devices at least 3 feet away from your bed. You may want to cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades. If this isn’t possible, wear an eye mask.

Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose. You can also download a free application called f.lux that automatically dims your monitor or screens14 or use blue-light-blocking glasses.

Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees F.

Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.

Avoid using loud alarm clocks. Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, you might not even need an alarm.

Get some sun in the morning, if possible. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night. More sunlight exposure is required as you age.

Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. Ideally, you should turn off any wireless router while you are sleeping. You don’t need the Internet on when you are asleep.

How Melatonin May Benefit Depression, Autoimmune Disorders, and Cancer


The hormone melatonin plays many important roles in your health, from helping you sleep better to strengthening your immune system, slowing down brain aging, reducing migraine attacks, protecting bone mass, and preventing cancer.

Lack of sun exposure during the day combined with artificial lighting late into the night disrupts your biological clock and hence, your melatonin production, and this disruption can provoke a number of adverse health effects.

In fact, melatonin has been the subject of preclinical research on over 100 different disease applications, many of which go hand in hand with your need for sleep.

Melatonin for Sleep and Beyond

Your master biological clock resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of your brain (SCN), which is part of your hypothalamus. Based on signals of light and darkness, your SCN tells your pineal gland when it’s time to secrete melatonin, and when to turn it off.

In scientific studies, melatonin supplementation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep, experience less restlessness, and prevent daytime fatigue.

Keep in mind that you may only need a very minimal dose. I recommend taking only 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg to start, and adjusting upward from there. Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so start low and adjust your dose as needed.

Melatonin has also been found to reduce the effects of jet lag when traveling across multiple time zones.1 And children suffering with eczema, a condition that oftentimes prevents good sleep, may also get more shut-eye with melatonin supplementation,2according to recent research.

Interestingly, melatonin also helped dampen the severity of the eczema, hinting at its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the benefits of melatonin go far beyond sleep. Three specific areas I’ll address in this article are its role in depression, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Normalizing Your Circadian System Helps Alleviate Depressive Symptoms

Your melatonin level inversely rises and falls with light and darkness, and both your physical and mental health is intricately tied to this rhythm of light and dark. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set.

Conversely, when you’re exposed to bright artificial lighting at night, including blue light emitted from TVs and electronic screens, you may have trouble falling asleep due to suppressed melatonin levels.

Light exposure when you wake up at night can also be problematic as I explain in my video above. However you don’t have to stumble around as red and orange wavelengths will not suppress melatonin production.

You can use a red light to guide you to the bathroom. If you have a clock in your bedroom make sure it has a red LED display. Blue would be the worst as it is the one that shuts down melatonin most effectively.

Winter Blues SAD

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, also called “the winter blues”) is associated with lack of sun exposure, and scientists generally recommend full-spectrum light therapy over SSRIs like Prozac or Zoloft for this condition.

Interestingly, recent research suggests light therapy may be preferable even for major depression, outperforming Prozac in those with moderate to severe depression. One of the reasons it works so well likely has to do with the fact that bright light helps reset your biological clock, or circadian rhythm.

Melatonin supplementation can help do this to a certain extent as well, but not as effectively as exposure to bright light during daytime. Light may also work in a way similar to antidepressants by regulating neurotransmitter function.

Light Therapy — More Effective Than Prozac

The study3,4,5,6,7 in question set out to compare the effectiveness of light therapy alone and in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac).

The eight-week long trial included 122 adults between the ages of 19 and 60, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The participants were divided into four groups, receiving:

  • Light therapy (30 minutes per day upon waking using a 10,000 lux Carex brand day-light device, classic model) plus a placebo pill
  • Prozac (20 mg/day) plus a deactivated ion generator serving as a placebo light device
  • Light therapy plus Prozac
  • Placebo light device plus placebo pill (control group)

In conclusion, the study found that the combination of light therapy and Prozac was the most effective — but light therapy-only came in close second, followed byplacebo.

That’s right, the drug treatment was the least effective of all, and LESS effective than placebo! At the end of the study, remission was achieved by:

  • Just over 19 percent in the Prozac only group
  • 30 percent in the placebo group
  • Nearly 44 percent in the light therapy only group
  • Nearly 59 percent in the active combination group

How Melatonin May Aid in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that, like SAD, has been linked tovitamin D deficiency from lack of sun exposure. Interestingly, recent research suggests that a drop in autumn and winter relapses may be linked to peak melatonin levels, which occurs during these darker months.

Conversely, spikes in relapses occurring during spring and summer — which tend to be less common but do occur — may be related to decreased melatonin levels. The research,8 led by neuroscientist Mauricio Farez at the Dr. Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research, looked at 139 MS patients living in Buenos Aires.

Thirty-two percent of them experienced a reduction in relapses during fall and winter, compared to spring and summer. As reported by Scientific American:9

“Past research has shown that melatonin can have a protective effect against MS and that shift work, which disturbs melatonin production, can increase the risk of developing the disease. According to the authors, this research is one of the first to bring together epidemiological evidence with results from both human cells and animal models …

[And it] may help to resolve a ‘seasonal paradox’ — MS flare-ups should decrease during warmer, brighter months when people receive more exposure to sunlight and thus produce more vitamin D, which also has anti-inflammatory properties. But some studies, including this one, show that relapses increase in the spring and summer pointing to the possibility that other environmental factors, such as melatonin levels, are involved.”

To test their hypothesis, mice with autoimmune encephalomyelitis (the animal model of MS) received daily injections of melatonin. As a result, clinical symptoms were reduced, and harmful T cells, which are pro-inflammatory, were reduced, whereas regulatory T cells were increased. Similar effects were shown in petri dish experiments. As noted in the featured article:

“Melatonin regulates pathways central to the immune response, so these results may pertain to other autoimmune diseases, particularly where seasonal flare-ups occur, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis …”

Melatonin’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Cancer is another area where melatonin plays a major role. The evidence suggests it may be an important adjunct to cancer treatment,10 as it also helps protect against the toxic effects of radiation therapy. Cells throughout your body — even cancer cells — have melatonin receptors, and melatonin is in and of itself cytotoxic, meaning can induce tumor cell death (apoptosis). It also:11

  • Boosts production of immune-optimizing substances such as interleukin-2, which helps identify and attack mutated cells that lead to malignant cancer
  • Inhibits development of new tumor blood vessels (tumor angiogenesis), which slows the spread of the cancer
  • Retards cancer progression by activating the cytokine system, which helps inhibit tumor growth, and by stimulating the cytotoxic activity of macrophages and monocytes
  • By its antioxidant action it also limits oxidative damage to DNA
  • Inhibits tumor growth by counteracting estrogen. (At night, when melatonin production peaks, cell division slows. And when melatonin latches onto a breast cancer cell, it has been found to counteract estrogen’s tendency to stimulate cell growth)

Melatonin has a calming effect on other reproductive hormones besides estrogen as well, which may explain why it seems to protect most effectively against sex hormone-driven cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, prostate, testicular and breast cancers12 — the latter of which has received the greatest amount of scientific attention. Some of the studies on melatonin forbreast cancer include the following:

  • The journal Epidemiology13 reported increased breast cancer risk among women who work predominantly night shifts
  • Women who live in neighborhoods with large amounts of nighttime illumination are more likely to get breast cancer than those who live in areas where nocturnal darkness prevails, according to an Israeli study14
  • From participants in the Nurses’ Health Study,15 it was found that nurses who work nights had 36 percent higher rates of breast cancer
  • Blind women, whose eyes cannot detect light and therefore have robust production of melatonin, have lower-than-average breast cancer rates16
  • When the body of epidemiological studies are considered in their totality, women who work night shift are found to have breast cancer rates 60 percent above normal, even when other factors, such as differences in diet, are accounted for17

Melatonin May Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients

Other cancers may also benefit. In 2004, the Life Extension Foundation collaborated with Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the first clinical trial evaluating melatonin’s effect in patients with lung cancer.

The results,18 which were published in conjunction with the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting, found a tumor response in just over 29 percent of those receiving melatonin at night, compared to just under 8 percent of those receiving it in the morning, and 10.5 percent of placebo recipients. As reported by Life Extension Magazine:19

“European clinical studies indicate that in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, five-year survival and overall tumor regression rates were higher in patients concomitantly treated with melatonin than in those treated with chemotherapy alone. While no patient treated with chemotherapy survived after two years, five-year survival was achieved in 3 of 49 patients treated with chemotherapy and melatonin.

The researchers hope that similarly promising results could eventually convince mainstream medical practitioners to administer melatonin in combination with standard cancer treatment regimens to patients in earlier stages of cancer treatment.”

The Importance of Light and Dark for the Synchronization of Your Body Clocks

Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, which is why your levels should be highest just prior to bedtime. This perfectly orchestrated system allows you to fall asleep when the sun sets and awaken refreshed with the sunrise, while also providing potential anti-aging and disease-fighting benefits.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, which is a signal that your melatonin production is off, I suggest making sure you’re sleeping in total darkness and to turn lights down at least an hour or so before bedtime. Also, avoid watching TV and using computers and other electronic gadgets at least an hour prior to bed.

All of these devices emit blue light, which will decrease your melatonin if you work past dark, so ideally you’d want to turn these items off once the sun goes down. If you have to use these devices you can wear yellow glasses that filter the blue wavelengths out and/or use free software like f.lux.

To light rooms at night, use “low blue” light bulbs that emit an amber light instead of the blue that suppresses melatonin production. An equally important factor is the quality of light you’re exposed to during the day. Without sufficient sunlight during the day, your circadian clock may fall out of sync.

Most incandescent and fluorescent lights emit very poor-quality light. What your body needs for optimal functioning is the full-spectrum light you get outdoors, but most of us do not spend much time outside to take advantage of this healthy light.

Using full-spectrum light bulbs in your home and office can help ameliorate this lack of high-quality sunlight during the day, but cannot fully replace it. So do make an effort to go outside for at least 30 to 60 minutes each day during the brightest portion of the day, i.e. right around noon. This will help “set” your circadian clock and help you sleep better.

For Optimal Health, Make Sure You Sleep Well

Remember, when your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin, which means it has less ability to fight cancer, and less protection against free radicals that may accelerate aging and disease. So if you’re having even slight trouble sleeping, I suggest you review my “33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep” for more guidance on how to improve your sleep-wake cycle.

If you’ve made the necessary changes to your sleep routine and find you’re still having trouble sleeping, a high-quality melatonin supplement may be helpful.

The amount of melatonin you create and release every night varies depending on your age. Children usually have much higher levels of melatonin than adults, and as you grow older your levels typically continue to decrease. This is why some older adults may benefit from extra melatonin.

The same goes for those who perform night shift work, travel often and experience jet lag, or otherwise suffer from occasional sleeplessness due to stress or other reasons. Start with a dose of about 0.25 to 0.5 mg, and increase it as necessary from there. If you start feeling more alert, you’ve likely taken too much and need to lower your dose.

Melatonin Superior To Toxic Drug In Migraine Prevention Study


Melatonin, a substance secreted by your own brain, was found superior to a commonly prescribed toxic pharmaceutical at significantly reducing migraine headache frequency. 

Melatonin Superior To Toxic Drug In Migraine Prevention Study1

GreenMedInfo.com has a special research section titled, “Superiority of Natural Substances versus Drugs,” which catalogs research from the National Library of Medicine (pubmed.gov) that clearly demonstrates the superiority of foods, herbs, and even therapeutic interventions like acupuncture and yoga, versus conventional drug-based interventions. Thus far, GreenMedInfo has indexed compelling complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) solutions that have proven to be superior to pharmaceutical drugs for 175 ailments, and the research keeps coming in.

The newest addition to this special catalog of studies, which includes over 7,600 topics you can peruse on our newly re-designed Research Dashboard (.7 beta version), is a powerful new study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, which compared melatonin, a hormone like substance first discovered in the pineal gland, to the commonly prescribed drug amitriptyline, for the prevention of migraine attacks.

Titled, “Randomised clinical trial comparing melatonin 3?mg, amitriptyline 25?mg and placebo for migraine prevention,” the new study sought to investigate whether melatonin could provide an alternative to a commonly prescribed drug amitriptyline, which has an unfavorable side effect profile that limits its use.

The study pointed out that migraine disorder is a debilitating and chronic neurological condition that affects between 12-20% of the world’s population. Presently, about half of those who seek medical help for their migraines stop seeking care for their headaches, because of the side effects associated with conventional, drug-based treatment, which for amitriptlyine run the gamut from physical to psychiatric disorders; some of which can be more debilitating than the migraines themselves, such as:

  • unusual thoughts or behavior;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating;

  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;

  • confusion, hallucinations;

  • a seizure (convulsions);

  • painful or difficult urination;

  • severe constipation;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding; or

  • sudden weakness or ill feeling, fever, chills, sore throat, mouth sores, red or swollen gums, trouble swallowing.

  • constipation, diarrhea;

  • nausea, vomiting, upset stomach;

  • mouth pain, unusual taste, black tongue;

  • appetite or weight changes;

  • urinating less than usual;

  • itching or rash;

  • breast swelling (in men or women); or

  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

[Source: Drugs.com]

The new study was conducted using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol, as follows:

Men and women, aged 18–65 years, with migraine with or without aura, experiencing 2–8 attacks per month, were enrolled. After a 4-week baseline phase, 196 participants were randomised to placebo, amitriptyline 25?mg or melatonin 3?mg, and 178 took a study medication and were followed for 3?months (12?weeks). The primary outcome was the number of migraine headache days per month at baseline versus last month. Secondary end points were responder rate, migraine intensity, duration and analgesic use. Tolerability was also compared between groups.”

The results were summarized as follows:

Mean headache frequency reduction was 2.7 migraine headache days in the melatonin group, 2.2 for amitriptyline and 1.1 for placebo. Melatonin significantly reduced headache frequency compared with placebo (p=0.009), but not to amitriptyline (p=0.19). Melatonin was superior to amitriptyline in the percentage of patients with a greater than 50% reduction in migraine frequency. Melatonin was better tolerated than amitriptyline. Weight loss was found in the melatonin group, a slight weight gain in placebo and significantly for amitriptyline users.”

The authors concluded:

Melatonin 3?mg is better than placebo for migraine prevention, more tolerable than amitriptyline and as effective as amitriptyline 25?mg.”

Discussion

Amazingly, not only was melatonin found to be equipotent to the drug amitriptyline in reducing headache frequency, and at a much lower dose (3 mg versus 25 mg), but as stated above,Melatonin was superior to amitriptyline in the percentage of patients with a greater than 50% reduction in migraine frequency.” This is all the more powerful when you consider that melatonin is a natural compound produced by the human body (pineal gland), and is perhaps several of orders of magnitude safer than the synthetic, xenobiotic chemical amitriptyline.

Considering that neuropsychiatric and physiological side effects commonly occur while on the drug, and that these “side effects” are the primary reason why those who are seeking help for their headaches end up discontinuing its use, melatonin appears to represent an ideal natural alternative.

Notably, the melatonin group experienced significant weight loss; an effect opposite to the weight-promoting effects commonly observed with amitriptyline. The study expanded on these findings:

Melatonin was more tolerable than amitriptyline and as tolerable as placebo. Weight loss was found in the melatonin group as opposed to a slight weight gain in placebo and a significant one in amitriptyline group. This is a very important and original finding that deserves special discussion. There is substantial experimental evidence in the literature indicating the role of melatonin in the control of food intake, energy balance and body weight. An inhibitory action of melatonin in preadipocytes differentiation into adipocytes, reducing the number of cells in the visceral adipose tissue has been demonstrated.15 Melatonin treatment reduced body weight gain, visceral adiposity, blood triglycerides and insulin resistance in a model of high-calorie diet-induced metabolic syndrome.16 Likewise, a single daily administration of melatonin decreased visceral fat in middle-aged mice,17and after melatonin treatment aged rats showed weight reduction, preceded by an increase in insulin signalling in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral tissues.18 In addition, melatonin might have a direct anorexigenic action regulating hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene expression.19 In ageing animals, melatonin and moderate exercise training induced a reduction in food intake associated with a reduction in body weight and amount of visceral adipose tissue depot.20 Melatonin should be considered as regulating the other side of energy balance increasing the energy expenditure by its ability to convert white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue increasing its metabolic rate.21 The reduction in body weight of patients in the melatonin treated group is, to the best of our knowledge, the first demonstration of the putative effect of melatonin in body weight reduction in humans.”

Lower levels of melatonin have been measured in those suffering from migraine attacks, which may explain why correcting this deficiency with supplemental melatonin may have an ameliorative effect. The study discussed additional possible mechanisms through which melatonin exerts its therapeutic effects:

Melatonin mechanism of action in migraine prevention could be due to one of its several effects, including: membrane stabilisation, anti-inflammatory properties, inhibition of dopamine release, modulation of serotonin, gamma amino butyric acid (GAMA) and glutamate neurotransmission, scavenging toxic-free radicals and cerebrovascular regulation.22

The study, however, cautions that melatonin could have contraindications in certain patients:

Melatonin also potentiates opioid analgesia; therefore, it should be used with caution in patients taking and/or overusing opioids.23 Patients with diabetes and hypertensive patients should be monitored since melatonin may decrease blood pressure24 and glucose levels.25

That said, melatonin is clearly safer than conventional drugs in its interaction/contradiction profiles, which the authors reiterate in the concluding remarks:

Owing to its favourable side effect profile and efficacy, melatonin could be an option for patients sensitive to other drugs or with a preference for natural products. With the same efficacy level compared with other treatments and a low cost, melatonin should be a cost-effective treatment.

They also point out the need for further research to clarify the correct doses and applications of melatonin for migraines and related conditions (comorbidities):

Different melatonin doses (lower and higher) should be studied, as well as its effect in other migraine types and comorbidities. The use of other chronobiotic agents, including melatonin analogues, could be tested in migraine prevention. Other trials in different populations and other latitudes should be conducted in the future.