What is Melatonin for?
Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory. It is most commonly available in pill form, but melatonin is also available in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue. This allows the melatonin to be absorbed directly into the body.
People use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle.
Melatonin is also used for the inability to fall asleep (insomnia); delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS); insomnia associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); insomnia due to certain high blood pressure medications called beta-blockers; and sleep problems in children with developmental disorders including autism, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation. It is also used as a sleep aid after discontinuing the use of benzodiazepine drugs and to reduce the side effects of stopping smoking.
Some people use melatonin for Alzheimer’s disease, ringing in the ears, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, migraine and other headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bone loss (osteoporosis), a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia (TD), epilepsy, as an anti-aging agent, for menopause, and for birth control.
Other uses include breast cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, head cancer, neck cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Melatonin is also used for some of the side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy) including weight loss, nerve pain, weakness, and a lowered number of clot-forming cells (thrombocytopenia).
It is also used to calm people before they are given anesthesia for surgery.
The forms of melatonin that can be absorbed through the cheek or under the tongue are used for insomnia, shift-work disorder, and to calm people before receiving anesthesia for surgery.
Sometimes people apply melatonin to the skin to protect against sunburn.
What is Melatonin Possibly Effective for?
• Epilepsy. There is some evidence that melatonin at bedtime may reduce the number and length of seizures in children with epilepsy. But melatonin should be used cautiously, because melatonin may increase the number of seizures in some people.
• Menopausal symptoms. Limited research suggests that melatonin does not relieve menopausal symptoms. However, melatonin in combination with soy isoflavones might help psychological symptoms associated with menopause.
• Sleep problems associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Limited research suggests melatonin might improve insomnia in children with ADHD who are taking stimulants. But improved sleep does not seem to decrease symptoms of ADHD.
• Migraine headache. There is some evidence that taking melatonin nightly before bed can prevent episodic migraine headache. When headaches do occur, they are milder and pass more quickly. Some research suggests that melatonin production might be altered in people with migraine.
• Insomnia caused by medications used for high blood pressure (beta-blockers).
• Headache characterized by sudden sharp pain (idiopathic stabbing headache).
• Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
• Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
• Birth control.