October 12, 2023


Let's talk about Melatonin. 

Melatonin has been in the news on and off as of late, with the publicity that has highlighted and created a bunch of fear amongst users of this supplement.

Part of the issue as with many other supplements is that the supplement industry is an unregulated industry. The quality varies from company to company and fillers and ingredients are added that are less than helpful or healing for our bodies. Finding a good quality Melatonin is key as well as making sure what is stated on the label is actually what is in the bottle.

Available in various forms such as tablets and gummies,melatonin has seen a meteoric rise in usage among both adults and children,with the national melatonin market witnessing a staggering 150% increase in sales between 2016 and 2020.

In a 2023 study published bythe Journal of the American Medical Association, Cohen et al.investigated the presence and quantity of melatonin, cannabidiol (CBD), and serotonin in 25 over-the-counter sleep aid gummies with nominal melatonin content ranging from 1-10 mg.

Their findings revealed that one product contained 31.3 mg of CBD without detectable levels of melatonin, despite “melatonin” appearing on the label. In the other 24 products, melatonin levels varied significantly,ranging from 1.3 to 13.1 mg per serving. Notably, the actual melatonin content deviated considerably from the labeled amounts, with discrepancies up to a striking 347%. A mere three of the 25 products (12%) had melatonin quantities within ±10% of the declared amount, suggesting that a vast majority (22, or 88%) of these sleep aids were inaccurately labeled, potentially leading to unintended consequences for consumers. In all but two of these 22 products, the direction of the deviation was positive, meaning that they contained more – notless – melatonin than the label indicated.

This is obviously problematic but in no way takes away the significant healing power of this remedy. This shows the corruption and mismanagement of the industry only, not melatonin in general. What gets written about that creates fear is that melatonin in higher doses over time could disrupt the body's natural melatonin production and/or sensitivity to it as well as the causing of side effects ie nausea, headaches and drowsiness. 

 I came across the research of Dr. Russel Reiter several years ago. Russel Reiter Ph.D. is a professor of Cell Biology and holds four honorary M.D. degrees and one honorary Doctor of Sciences degree. He has dedicated his life to melatonin research and his papers have been cited more than 173,000 times in medical and scientific literature. He is the co-editor of Melatonin Research and is the founder and past editor of The Journal of Pineal Research.

 Does taking Melatonin reduce the body's ability to produce Melatonin?

-Dr. Reiter: Endocrinologists understand that taking hormones has feedback effects that affect that hormone's production. Melatonin in the pineal gland is controlled by the nervous system and NOT by endocrine feedback. There is no evidence at all that you impede the normal cyclic production of melatonin if you supplement with melatonin regularly. 

Very little evidence of adverse effects. 

Melatonin is known as a circadian rhythm regulator ( a clock and a calendar) and so much more.

 It is known to have powerful anti-cancer properties and powerful anti-oxidant effects. Many research publications show these effects as well as its anti-viral properties (6 clinical trials showing to have reduced the severity of the infection, duration of hospitalization, and the necessity of tracheal intubation and decreased mortality with the pandemic) 

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland at night. It opens the normal sleep gait allowing for normal sleep to occur.

Melatonin needs to be taken at the correct time and at the same time every night for the best results over time.

The reality is that we are living in an artificial environment regarding light... which affects our melatonin levels. Blue light and (also white light which contains blue light)inhibit our natural melatonin.

It is best never to turn a light on in the middle of the night as this will stop the production of melatonin immediately. Candle, fire, and moonlight do not contain any bluelight so do not negatively affect melatonin levels.

Breastfeeding moms should not turn on lights that have bluelight while breastfeeding in the evening.The developing fetus during pregnancy receives melatonin signals from the mom passing through the placenta to the fetus, helping to set the biological clock of the fetus.

A newborn gets melatonin from the nursing mother, for roughly the first 6 months the newborn isn't producing its own melatonin and gets it from the mom according to Dr. Reiter.

As we age, melatonin drops.

There are a  number of pharmaceutical  drugs that suppress melatonin production. For example; beta blockers used for high blood pressure, NSAIDs, several benzodiazepines, several antidepressants,dexamethasone (steroid) , caffeine, and alcohol as well as 100s of others that have been shown to affect melatonin levels.

Many chronic conditions including neurodegenerative disease are shown to be supported with Melatonin supplementation.

Some other Melatonin facts to note:

 -infrared light (sunlight and other sources) with its high permeability has an impact on melatonin production in these cells (new research). It has the same benefits (ie high anti-oxidant, repair damage) as the melatonin that comes from the pineal gland.

 -Melatonin is also produced in other cells but it's not released into the blood. 

 -Melatonin has actions that suggest it is anti-metastatic,reduces inflammation in the brain and inhibits angiogenesis

 -Melatonin supplementation stimulates melatonin synthesis in brain cells ( glia) states the current research,this could be the same mechanism that blocks cancer cells.

 -in ischemic-reperfusion situations, where there is lots off ree radical generation ie. strokes/heart attack - high doses of melatonin could be very therapeutic

 -It helps reduce tumors and cysts inside the liver and helps prevent them from growing in the first place. 

-A natural anti-inflammatory that doesn’t confuse theliver’s immune system, only strengthens it. If the liver is sluggish and stagnant and loses its ability to create melatonin, taking melatonin can reignite the organ’s capacity to start up again.

 -you cannot overdose: there is no LD50 for melatonin...optimal dose is difficult to decide upon because no double-blind studies have been done. 

 -It also helps repair and grow fresh neurons and is not addictive.  Take together with cherries or with their juice will multiply the effect of this supplement. When taken with sweet potatoes, their form of glucose stimulates the development of neurotransmitters glycine, dopamine,GABA, and serotonin, this food’s nutrients bind onto the supplement easing its absorption in the brain; this combination also helps stop the oxidation of toxic heavy metals in the brain.

 Side effects described are subjective: sleepy or dizzy anecdotal accounts....maybe some unique situations, metabolic situations.

 * perspective to note: 3,000 die annually from aspirin toxicity, and another 20,000 develop gastric ulcers. People take aspirin like candy and never worry about side effects as well as other pharmaceutical medications.

I do recommend Melatonin for my patients in a variety of situations. Talk with your doctor or practitioner to see if supplementation is right for you.

research articles: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=russel+reiter

 Dr. Reiter YouTube Videos:
Melatonin: BetterThan Expected
Melatonin:Functional Significance for Optimal Cellular Physiology