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Melatonin: Uses and Side Effects

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the body that influences the cycle sleep-wake . That is, this hormone determines our “internal clock” and acts according to the light we perceive, acting when there is little light and disappearing when there is much. That is why humans sleep more easily with the light off and we tend to get sleepy in situations where we are not doing physical activity and there is little light. In this way, the use of melatonin can be the solution to different sleep disorders, and its properties have been used to alleviate the symptoms of diseases such as cancer. At FastlyHealwe will explain what you need to know about melatonin, knowing its uses and side effects.

Melatonin properties

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our biological clock by informing the body of circadian rhythms, promoting the sleep cycle. This hormone is produced at night in darkness, and its secretion is inhibited by light during the day. With age, the amount of melatonin can decrease , while the levels of this hormone are higher during childhood and adolescence.

One of the properties of melatonin that stands out the most is its ability to regulate sleep and wake cycles. Thanks to this effect, it has been widely used as a treatment for sleep disorders. Also, an adequate dose of melatonin improves the quality of sleep and therefore we feel more rested the next day.

Another of the properties of melatonin is its antioxidant effect . This hormone prevents aging, and this is why it is known as the youth hormone. Its antioxidant action fights free radicals in the body, delaying aging and the appearance of skin blemishes, wrinkles and other signs.

Uses of melatonin

The human body generates melatonin naturally. However, this substance is also produced in laboratories for a large number of uses. Next, we will see what are the different uses that melatonin can be given as a medicine .

Insomnia

Melatonin is one of the main remedies used to combat insomnia . Those who find it difficult to fall asleep can find a very effective solution to this disorder. We must bear in mind that insomnia is suffered during the night due to the difficulty of sleeping normally, but the next day the person experiences fatigue and lack of concentration, among other consequences, which may impair their quality of life .

Jet lag

When we suffer time changes , usually as a result of traveling to other places, the body feels the configuration of its internal clock altered, causing us to be sleepy when it is daytime or conversely when it is night. That is why airline pilots take melatonin the night before a trip.

Sleep disturbances

Another use that can be given to melatonin is in people who tend to change work shift , experiencing difficulties at bedtime. Workers such as nurses or night watchmen can use melatonin to regulate their sleep.

It is believed that there are some disorders that can cause difficulty sleeping. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s , depression , schizophrenia or asthma present sleep disorders that can be alleviated with melatonia. However, there are no studies that have proven it.

Melatonin against cancer

Although not enough studies have been done, it is believed that melatonin can help fight cancer due to the antioxidants it contains. Some studies have shown that melatonin protects against breast cancer by inhibiting estrogens . Likewise, it is also used to control some side effects derived from chemotherapy such as weight loss, weakness or a reduction in the number of cells responsible for clotting. Other studies also suggested that it could contribute to good cardiovascular health. The use of melatonin is also associated with different types of cancer such as:

  • Brain cancer
  • Lung cancer.
  • Neck cancer
  • Prostate cancer.

Melatonin as a medicine

This hormone is found naturally in the body, but it can also be produced in a laboratory and used as a medicine, which is inserted under the tongue to be quickly absorbed by the body.

If you feel that you have problems sleeping or that melatonin could be of help for any of its uses mentioned above, do not hesitate to consult a doctor to recommend the appropriate dose and inform you appropriately according to your needs. Be aware that melatonin can be harmful .

Side effects of melatonin

The side effects that have been observed regarding melatonin are minimal, among which we find:

  • Hypothermia.
  • Headache and / or diarrhea.
  • Slower responsiveness.
  • Drowsiness.

However, we must take into account some contraindications of melatonin :

  • Melatonin should not be taken if you have blood clotting problems or are taking any medication that thin the blood .
  • By stimulating the heart rate, people with heart disease should ensure that they can take melatonin.
  • Those with glaucoma should also see a doctor before taking melatonin.
  • Cholesterol levels can be increased by consuming melatonin, so people prone to high cholesterol should be aware of this.

Recommended Melatonin Dosage: Adults and Children

The human body tolerates melatonin doses of up to 800mg per day , but depending on the intended use, small amounts can be effective as a treatment. It is important that the dose of melatonin is established by the doctor to ensure its effectiveness and in order to adjust to the needs of each person. In addition, the composition must also be taken into account to avoid incompatibility with liver and kidney functions, and possible unwanted effects such as an overdose. Therefore, it is essential that the consumption of melatonin is not carried out without medical consent., since the condition for which the hormone should be administered must first be determined. In the case of pregnant or lactating women or in people who are taking antidepressants, the doctor should also be consulted.

Although melatonin is an effective treatment to control sleep cycles, it should not be given to children when they have trouble falling asleep. In this case, you should first go to the pediatrician. In the event of sleep disturbances in children, it is essential that a specialist monitor and prescribe the appropriate dose. On many occasions, sleep problems in children are due to bad habits in their routine that can be easily corrected. In children under 6 months it is not recommended. In 6 to 12 months it is effective but should not be used for more than 4 weeks. For kidsbetween 1 and 3 years will be the doctor who stipulates the recommended duration, but it is unlikely that it can be more than 6 weeks. Children older than 3 years are the ones who obtain the most benefits since they can continue the treatment for a longer time and hardly any side effects have been seen.

Is it safe to take melatonin?

Taking melatonin by mouth for a short period of time is generally safe. It can also be safe in longer treatments, but should be monitored by the doctor to avoid possible side effects: dizziness, headache, drowsiness, stomach cramps or symptoms of depression for short periods of time. Also, there are some people who may be at higher risk for reactions from melatonin :

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding . The consumption of melatonin should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, but also when the couple is looking to have a child, since the hormone can influence ovulation, making fertilization difficult.
  • Babies and children . The effects of this hormone could influence development during adolescence and its consumption is not recommended in children.
  • High blood pressure . People taking medications to control blood pressure should not take melatonin.
  • Diabetes . Melatonin can increase blood sugar levels, so these people will need to follow up to control their glucose levels.
  • Depression . This hormone could make the symptoms of depression worse.
  • Bleeding disorders . People who suffer from bleeding problems could be exacerbated by taking melatonin.

Herbs and supplements to avoid with melatonin

The consumption of melatonin together with other products can produce interactions, so its consumption should be avoided at the same time.

  • Caffeine . Caffeine increases the effects of melatonin by generating an excessive dose.
  • St. John’s wort . This plant has sedative actions that can interfere with melatonin, increasing its effects.
  • Herbs and supplements that slow blood clotting . It can lead to bruising and blood loss. Some of these herbs are cloves , ginger, and ginkgo biloba.
  • Herbs and supplements to treat seizures . It could increase the frequency and number of seizures by taking it along with cedar leaves, folic acid or rosemary.

Tips to replace the use of melatonin

The actions of melatonin and its properties are effective, however, in some cases the reasons why we want to use this hormone are due to an inappropriate lifestyle that can be corrected. It is possible to substitute the consumption of melatonin taking into account different tips:

  • DO NOT sleep during the day . Sleeping during the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night due to changes in the wake-sleep cycle.
  • Avoid sedentary life . Many sleep disturbances are due to a lack of physical exercise. If we do not exercise our body, it is possible that it is not tired at night and, as a consequence, it is difficult for us to sleep.
  • Relaxation exercises . The meditation is a good alternative to avoid taking melatonin. Exercises such as yoga allow to eliminate accumulated stress and remove problems from our head. In this way we get to go to sleep more relaxed.
  • Avoid screens . If before going to sleep we are watching television or playing with the mobile, our body will not create melatonin when it perceives the light from the screen as a stimulus that you must still stay awake.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Melatonin: uses and side effects , we recommend that you enter our Wellbeing category .

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