What is melatonin?

Bryce B. Wylde
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain that is responsible for regulating your bio-rhythms or internal clock. It’s one of the most powerful antioxidants, and it helps slow down the aging process. It also prevents breast and prostate cancers, relieves cluster headaches, and ameliorates radiation exposure and seasonal affective disorder.

As a supplement, the enzyme is used for jet lag, insomnia, shift-work disorder, circadian rhythm disorders in the blind, and benzodiazepine and nicotine withdrawal.

Melatonin is also being tested for its effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s disease, tinnitus, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is presently also under investigation for potential in preventing certain cancers.
The Antioxidant Prescription: How to Use the Power of Antioxidants to Prevent Disease and Stay Healthy for Life

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The Antioxidant Prescription: How to Use the Power of Antioxidants to Prevent Disease and Stay Healthy for Life

Dr. Bryce Wylde, one of Canada's most popular and respected health care practitioners, gives us individualized step-by-step treatment plans to fight disease and stay healthy.In The Antioxidant...
William B. Salt II., MD
Melatonin is a hormone naturally found in the body that regulates the sleep/wake cycle and other daily biorhythms. Consider taking tablets that dissolve after being placed under the tongue. After ensuring that your your bedroom is completely dark, take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose. If regular use is preferred, take a much lower dose, 0.25 to 0.3 mg.
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Still Hurting? FIND HEALTH! presents a new model of disease, which empowers readers suffering with pain, symptoms (e.g., fatigue), and symptom syndromes (e.g., irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, chronic...

Melatonin is a hormone. It is not an herb, a vitamin, or a mineral. Hormones are naturally produced by your body as you need them. Which means it is very unlikely that someone has a melatonin deficiency. While melatonin could be considered natural, in most cases it doesn’t come from the earth. There are exceptions of foods that contain melatonin in them, but this is a different type of melatonin than what is produced in your brain.

This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin: melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Well before menopause is on the horizon, melatonin (the natural chemical that regulates our internal clocks to help us fall asleep at night) is already starting to decline and dip with your menstrual cycle. As you grow older it continues to slow production, making it harder and harder to fall asleep.
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Scott M. Leibowitz, MD
Sleep Medicine

Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the brain every night at dusk. It is a que that sleep will be happening for the body in just a couple of hours. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Scott Leibowitz about melatonin.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The pineal gland produces a substance called melatonin, which conducts the symphony of your hormones.

Melatonin modulates menstruation, helps control desire for mating, helps lower heart rate and blood pressure, increases immune function, and helps decrease stress by blocking the body's stress response. Plus, it helps regulate sleep.

If you're a trivia expert, you may remember melatonin as the neurotransmitter that helps bears hibernate. Its levels peak at night and during winter months. (Serotonin, which converts to melatonin, helps regulate our daytime activity.)

When the lights go out, your pineal senses that and starts producing melatonin. When you lose melatonin (which is also found in the gut, by the way), you lose your normal sleep pattern, which then cascades into a whole host of health problems.

Melatonin is a hormone the brain produces that controls sleep. It is triggered by a lack of sunlight and helps regulate our circadian rhythms, our sleep-wake cycles.

The pineal gland in the brain secretes the melatonin hormone under control of the internal clock, usually at night. Melatonin also can be administered therapeutically when blood levels are low, with minimal side effects. A chronotherapeutic formulation of physiological-dose, controlled-release melatonin can serve synergistically with light (but at opposite times of day) to resynchronize the circadian clock. The tablet can also be used to amplify the endogenous blood level in patients whose sleep may be compromised by low pineal melatonin secretion.

Continue Learning about Melatonin

What should I avoid while taking melatonin?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Until you know how you will react to melatonin, you should not drive or operate any heavy machinery....
More Answers
Should I let my doctor know I am taking melatonin?
Dr. Michael Breus, PhDDr. Michael Breus, PhD
Although melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, it can still carry risk. In this video, sleep s...
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Are There Any Regulations for the Use of Melatonin?
Are There Any Regulations for the Use of Melatonin?
Should I Let My Doctor Know I Am Taking Melatonin?
Should I Let My Doctor Know I Am Taking Melatonin?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.