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11 Melatonin Benefits
1. Natural Sleep Aid
Melatonin for sleep is by far its best known usage as a natural remedy. When it comes to sleep trouble, conventional medical treatment typically involves pharmaceutical drugs, but these medications frequently lead to long-term dependence and come with a laundry list of possible side effects. This is why many people want to find something more natural to help them have a more restful night’s sleep.
Research suggests that supplementing with melatonin may help people with disrupted circadian rhythms, such as people who work the night shift and people who have jet lag. Melatonin supplementation may also help individuals sleep better who have chronically low melatonin levels, like people with schizophrenia, who have poor sleep quality.
2. Potential Treatment for Breast and Prostate Cancer
Several studies suggest that low melatonin levels may be associated with breast cancer risk. To determine melatonin’s effectiveness at stopping tumor growth, one group of researchers evaluated the action of melatonin dosage on the growth of breast tumors in vitro (using human cancer cells) and in vivo (using mice). The researchers found that melatonin may inhibit tumor growth and cell production, as well as block the formation of new blood vessels in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer models. This 2014 research shows melatonin’s potential as a therapeutic agent for breast cancer. (7)
Another study looked at women who were taking the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen for breast cancer but not seeing any improvement. With the addition of melatonin to their treatment regimens, researchers found that tumors modestly shrank in more than 28 percent of the women. (8)
Studies also show that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels than men without the disease. One study published in Oncology Reports aimed to verify whether melatonin might modulate the growth of androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells. The results demonstrated that melatonin can significantly inhibit the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. (9)
Combined, these studies show melatonin’s great promise as a potential natural treatment for cancer.
3. Decreases Negative Menopause Symptoms
Melatonin supplements have been shown to improve sleep problems experienced during menopause. In a study of perimenopausal and menopausal women ages 42 to 62, within six months of a daily melatonin dosage, most of the women reported a general improvement of mood and a significant mitigation of depression. The findings of this study appear to demonstrate that melatonin supplementation among perimenopausal and menopausal women can lead to recovery of pituitary and thyroid functions toward a more youthful pattern of regulation. (10)
This is great news because it shows that melatonin can help decrease common negative perimenopause symptoms and menopause symptoms, like sleeping problems.
4. Heart Disease Helper
Multiple studies suggest that melatonin has heart-protective properties. Specifically, research shows that when it comes to cardiovascular health, melatonin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It also can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It seems to have cardioprotective properties via its direct free radical scavenger activity. Overall, the protective abilities of melatonin may be able to help reduce and treat cardiovascular diseases. (11)
5. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Relief
Fibromyalgia symptoms include long-term and widespread pain in muscles and connective tissues, without any specific cause. A randomized, placebo-controlled study of 101 patients with fibromyalgia syndrome evaluated melatonin’s effectiveness at reducing symptoms. It found that patients experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms when they took a melatonin dosage either alone or in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac).
The group who took only melatonin was given a daily melatonin dosage of five milligrams while the other group took three milligrams of melatonin and 2o milligrams of the antidepressant. (12) Other studies suggest that melatonin might be able to help with other chronic painful conditions, like migraine headaches.
6. Immune System Strengthener
Research is showing that melatonin has strong antioxidant effects and may help strengthen the immune system. A 2013 scientific review calls melatonin an “immune buffer” because it appears to act as a stimulant in an immunosuppressive condition, but it also behaves as an anti-inflammatory compound when there’s an intensified immune response, like in the case of acute inflammation. (13)
7. Eases Jet Lag
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder experienced by air travelers who rapidly travel by plane across multiple time zones. It happens as a result of the slow adjustment of the body clock to the destination time, which causes sleep and wakefulness to be out of sync with the new environment. Supplementing with melatonin may be able to help “reset” your sleep and wake cycle when you experience dreaded jet lag.
A scientific review of a large number of trials and studies all involving melatonin and jet lag finds that melatonin is “remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet-lag, and occasional short-term use appears to be safe.” The researches found that in nine out of 10 trials, when melatonin was taken close to the target bedtime at the destination (10 p.m. to 12 a.m.) there was a decrease in jet lag from crossing five or more time zones. The researchers also observed that daily doses of melatonin between 0.5 and five milligrams worked similarly well, but subjects did fall asleep faster and sleep better after taking five milligrams compared to 0.5 milligrams.
When a melatonin dosage above five milligrams was given, it did not produce any better results. Another key conclusion is that the timing of a melatonin dose is key because if it’s taken too early then it can delay adaptation to the new time zone. The incidence of other side effects from melatonin dosage was found to be low. (14)
8. Better Outcomes for Autism in Children
Research has shown that melatonin can help children with developmental issues like autism. This is important, particularly with autism rates on the rise.
A 2011 scientific review published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology evaluated 35 studies that had melatonin-related findings involving autism spectrum disorders, including autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome and other common developmental disorders. After reviewing the numerous studies, researchers concluded that melatonin supplementation in autism spectrum disorders is linked to better sleep parameters, improved daytime behavior and minimal side effects. (15)
9. May Ease Tinnitus
Research suggests that melatonin may serve as a natural tinnitus treatment. Tinnitus is a condition that causes noise or ringing in the ears. For many people, tinnitus symptoms eventually go away as your auditory sensations and nerves near your ears adjust, but for those who are dealing with tinnitus for a long period of time, it can lead to other health issues like anxiety and depression.
The anti-oxidative properties of melatonin may contribute to its ability to alleviate tinnitus. Researchers at the Ohio State University Eye and Ear Institute conducted a study involving 61 participants. After taking 3 milligrams of melatonin nightly for 30 days, the participants experienced a significantly greater decrease in tinnitus symptoms. Taking melatonin also helped to improve the quality of sleep in patients with chronic tinnitus. (16)
10. Relieves Bladder Dysfunction
Melatonin receptors are found in the bladder and the prostate. It works to prevent elevations in levels of malondialdehyde, which is a marker for oxidative stress. Through the reduction of oxidative stress, melatonin helps to combat age induced bladder dysfunction. It also limits bladder contractions and induces relaxation, helping to relieve issues like overactive bladder.
An article review published in Current Urology found that, although the exact mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood, there is a strong body of evidence suggesting that a melatonin imbalance can have a detrimental effect on bladder dysfunction. (17)
And a 2012 study suggests that nightly production of melatonin helps to improve sleep and reduce habitual nightly voiding. Melatonin also increases bladder capacity and decreases urine volume due to its effects on the central nervous system. (18)
11. Helps Relieve Stress
Melatonin levels change when you are experiencing stress. Stress decreases melatonin concentrations at night and increases melatonin production during the day, which is due to the increase of cortisol, the stress hormone. Melatonin can help to relieve stress by controlling the level of stimulation experienced by the body. (19)
If you are feeling anxious, melatonin helps to ease anxiety symptoms like daytime fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia and restlessness. It also promotes a calm mood and it supports brain function