Dr MB’s Melatonin


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Dr MB’s Melatonin

The Sleep Hormone

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, which is located just above the “middle brain” and is about the size of a pea.

This hormone is responsible for setting your “sleep-wake cycle” and for maintaining your body’s circadian rhythm, so long as you take the proper melatonin dosage. Its synthesis and release are stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light.

Your circadian rhythm is the fancier term for your own person internal clock, which runs on a 24-hour schedule, just like the day. This internal clock plays a critical role in when you fall asleep and wake up, so regulating it is critical for dealing with sleep disorders.

When it’s dark, your body produces more melatonin, but when it’s light, the production of melatonin goes down. This is why people who are blind or work night hours can have problems with maintaining normal levels.

For anyone, a lack of light exposure during the day, or exposure to bright lights in the evening, can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles.

Melatonin is also crucial to female reproductive health as it plays a role in controlling the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps decide when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and length of menstrual cycles, as well as when a woman stops menstruating completely (menopause).

Researchers believe that melatonin decreases as we age and that young children have the highest levels (particularly at night, which is why they typically sleep longer and more deeply than adults). If this is true, then it can help explain why older people don’t tend to sleep as well as they did when they were younger.

How It Works

When you’re exposed to light, it stimulates a nerve pathway from the retina in the eye to an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. This is where the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is located, and the SCN initiates the turning on of the pineal gland.

Once the SCN turns on the pineal gland, it starts making melatonin, which is then released into your bloodstream.

The precursor to melatonin is serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s derived from the amino acid tryptophan. A naturally occurring chemical called acetylserotonin acts as the intermediary.

Serotonin produces acetylserotonin, which is then converted into melatonin.

Besides its role as a precursor in the synthesis of melatonin, acetylserotonin is also known to have antidepressant, anti-aging and cognitive-enhancing benefits.

Many of the health benefits that are thought to be due to increasing serotonin levels may actually come from serotonin’s ability to make melatonin production possible.

In most adults, the body starts producing melatonin around 9 p.m. Levels then increase sharply, and you begin to feel more sleepy.

If your body is running as it should, your level remains elevated while you sleep, for a total of approximately 12 hours. It then drops, and by around 9 a.m., the level is back to a barely detectable level, where it remains during the day.


What is melatonin used for when taken as a supplement? By far, its best known usage is as a natural sleep aid.

But did you know that it also serves many other functions too, such as supporting your immune system, cardiovascular function and reproductive health?

Recent studies indicate that some of the many uses/functions of melatonin include:

  • Fighting free radicals and having antioxidant actions
  • Facilitating bone formation and protection
  • Assisting in reproduction
  • Supporting detoxification
  • Regulating body mass
  • Providing gastrointestinal protection
  • Protecting against psychiatric disorders, mood disorders and cardiovascular diseases
  • and more

14 top Melatonin benefits and uses:

1. Natural Sleep Aid

Research suggests that supplementing melatonin may benefit individuals with disrupted circadian rhythms, such as night shift workers and individuals experiencing jet lag. It may also improve sleep in individuals with chronically low levels, like those with schizophrenia and poor sleep quality.

In a randomized, double-blind trial, two milligrams of melatonin prolonged release (PR) taken one to two hours before bedtime showed significant improvements in sleep quality, duration, morning alertness, and health-related quality of life, compared to a placebo. The study also found no dependence, tolerance, rebound insomnia, or withdrawal symptoms with both short- and long-term use of the melatonin dosage (two milligrams PR).

Studies have discovered that melatonin effectively advances sleep-wake rhythms in individuals with delayed sleep phase disorder. This disorder affects those who struggle with waking up later than the socially acceptable norm.

To address this sleep problem, taking melatonin can help individuals fall asleep earlier, although finding the optimal timing and dosage may require some trial and error.

Recent research suggests that for treating delayed sleep, small doses of melatonin should be taken four to eight hours before the desired sleep time. While it may only result in a slight reduction in the time it takes to fall asleep, it can help individuals drift off approximately 10 minutes earlier.

2. Potentially Helps Treat Cancer

Several studies indicate that low melatonin levels may increase the risk of certain cancers. According to a 2017 study published in Oncotarget, melatonin shows promise in preventing and treating breast, prostate, gastric, and colorectal cancers.

In 2014, researchers conducted a study to assess melatonin’s impact on breast tumor growth. They examined its effects on human cancer cells in vitro and in mice in vivo. The findings suggest that melatonin can inhibit tumor growth, cell production, and the formation of new blood vessels in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer models.

Another study focused on women undergoing tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer without improvement. When melatonin was added to their regimens, more than 28 percent of the women experienced modest tumor shrinkage.

Research also reveals that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels compared to those without the disease. A study published in Oncology Reports investigated whether melatonin could affect the growth of androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells. The results showed a significant inhibition of prostate cancer cell proliferation.

These studies highlight the potential of melatonin as a natural treatment for cancer. However, individuals with cancer should consult their doctors before considering any supplements or over-the-counter treatments.

3. Decreases Negative Menopause Symptoms

Research shows that melatonin supplements can alleviate sleep issues during menopause. In a study involving perimenopausal and menopausal women aged 42 to 62, most experienced improved mood and reduced depression within six months of daily supplementation.

The study’s findings suggest that supplementation in these women can restore pituitary and thyroid functions, resembling a more youthful pattern of regulation. This is encouraging news, indicating that melatonin can reduce common sleep problems associated with perimenopause and menopause.

4. Heart Disease Helper

Multiple studies indicate that melatonin possesses heart-protective properties. Specifically, research reveals its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, contributing to cardiovascular health.

Moreover, melatonin may aid in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies attribute its cardioprotective properties to its direct activity as a free radical scavenger.

5. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Relief

Fibromyalgia causes long-term and widespread pain in muscles and connective tissues, without a specific cause.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study of 101 fibromyalgia patients, researchers assessed melatonin’s effectiveness in symptom reduction. They discovered that supplementation with melatonin, either alone or in combination with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac), significantly reduced fibromyalgia symptoms.

The group receiving melatonin alone took a daily dosage of five milligrams, while the other group took three milligrams of melatonin and 20 milligrams of the antidepressant.

Further studies suggest that melatonin may benefit other chronic painful conditions like migraines. A systematic review in 2019 found that melatonin significantly reduced headache frequency, duration, and intensity in multiple studies.

The reviewed studies reported a decrease in headache frequency by 33% to 83% (average 51%), a reduction in headache duration by 32% to 56% (average 46%), and a decline in headache intensity by 33% to 78% (average 53%) among adults.

6. Immune System Strengthener

Research indicates that melatonin possesses potent antioxidant effects and can enhance the immune system. In a 2013 scientific review, melatonin was referred to as an “immune buffer” due to its stimulating effect in immunosuppressive conditions. Moreover, it acts as an anti-inflammatory compound during heightened immune responses, such as acute inflammation.

7. Eases Jet Lag

Supplementing melatonin can help reset your sleep-wake cycle when dealing with jet lag.

A comprehensive scientific review of numerous trials and studies on melatonin and jet lag treatment revealed that melatonin is remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet lag. Short-term use of melatonin was deemed safe. In nine out of 10 trials, taking melatonin close to the target bedtime at the destination (10 p.m. to 12 a.m.) resulted in decreased jet lag across five or more time zones.

The researchers found that daily doses ranging from 5 to 10 milligrams showed similar effectiveness. However, subjects experienced faster sleep onset and better sleep quality with 10 milligrams compared to 5 milligrams.

Higher dosages above 10 milligrams did not yield better outcomes. The timing of melatonin intake is crucial, as taking it too early can delay adaptation to the new time zone.

8. Better Outcomes for Autism in Children

Studies demonstrate that melatonin can assist children with developmental issues, such as autism.

In a 2011 scientific review published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 35 studies on melatonin’s impact on autism spectrum disorders (including autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, and other developmental disorders) were evaluated. Researchers concluded that melatonin supplementation in autism spectrum disorders leads to improved sleep parameters, enhanced daytime behavior, and minimal side effects after analyzing the extensive findings.

9. May Ease Tinnitus

Studies indicate that melatonin has the potential to be a natural treatment for tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a condition characterized by ringing or noise in the ears. The antioxidant properties of melatonin may play a role in alleviating tinnitus symptoms.

A study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University Eye and Ear Institute involved 61 participants. After taking three milligrams of melatonin every night for 30 days, the participants experienced a significant reduction in tinnitus symptoms.

Furthermore, melatonin supplementation improved the sleep quality of individuals with chronic tinnitus.

10. Can Help Relieve Bladder Dysfunction

Melatonin receptors exist in the bladder and prostate, working to prevent high levels of malondialdehyde, an oxidative stress marker.

By reducing oxidative stress, melatonin combats age-related bladder dysfunction. It also relaxes the bladder, reducing contractions and alleviating conditions like overactive bladder.

A review in Current Urology highlights strong evidence that melatonin imbalance negatively affects bladder function, although exact mechanisms remain unclear.

In a 2012 study, nightly melatonin production improved sleep and reduced nocturia. Supplementation increased bladder capacity and decreased urine volume by affecting the central nervous system.

11. Helps Relieve Stress

Stress affects melatonin levels, reducing concentrations at night and increasing production during the day due to elevated cortisol.

Melatonin aids in stress relief by regulating body stimulation.

When feeling anxious, melatonin alleviates symptoms such as daytime fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, and promotes a calm mood while supporting brain function.

12. Supports Production of Human Growth Hormone

Some studies demonstrate that melatonin supplementation increases human growth hormone levels in healthy men under 40.

This increase in growth hormone can support muscle mass growth and a healthy metabolism.

Moreover, evidence suggests that melatonin, at low doses, can elevate oxytocin and vasopressin levels, potentially affecting moods, blood pressure, and other physiological functions.

13. Helps Prevent Mood Disturbances

A 2017 study highlights that disturbed sleep and melatonin secretion are key features of depression.

Exposure to light and sleep cycles impact mood, including seasonal depression.

Melatonin shows promise in alleviating depression symptoms by regulating serotonergic neurotransmission.

14. May Help Protect the Brain

Emerging evidence suggests that melatonin may offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Melatonin shows promise in enhancing neuronal survival and safeguarding the cholinergic system from oxidative stress and inflammation.

Recent clinical trials demonstrate that melatonin supplementation improves sleep and can potentially slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.


To address sleep issues, finding the appropriate melatonin dose is essential for restful sleep and improved daytime well-being.

Begin with a low melatonin dose to assess its effectiveness. Follow the label instructions or seek guidance from a professional for dosage recommendations.