February 12, 2016


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What other names is Melatonin known by?

5-Methoxy-N-Acetyltryptamine, MEL, Melatonina, Mélatonine, MLT, N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, N-Acétyl-5-Méthoxytryptamine, Pineal Hormone.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory.

Is Melatonin effective?

Melatonin can help correct certain sleep disorders in blind people. It is also effective for correcting sleeping problems in children with autism and mental retardation.

There is some scientific evidence that melatonin might improve alertness in people with jet lag. But it doesn't seem to be as useful for other jet lag symptoms such as daytime sleepiness. Melatonin might also be helpful for insomnia for some people.

There is also some evidence that melatonin might improve the effectiveness of cancer drugs used to fight tumors in the breast, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach and colon. But it should only be used for this purpose with the help of a healthcare professional.

Melatonin might also reduce pain in people with a certain kind of headache called a "cluster headache."

There is some evidence that a melatonin cream may help decrease sunburn when used before going into the sun.

A lot of people try melatonin to help adjust their sleeping schedule when they do shift work, but melatonin does not seem to work for this use.

There isn't enough information to know if melatonin is effective for the other conditions people use it for including: ringing in the ears, osteoporosis, epilepsy, birth control, aging, and others.

Likely Effective for...

  • Sleep disorders in blind people.
  • Sleeping problems in children with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Improving alertness in people with jet lag. However, it doesn't seem to be as useful for other jet lag symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Improving the effectiveness of certain cancer medications used to fight tumors in the breast, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, colon, prostate, and decreasing some side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Decreasing symptoms of a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia (TD).
  • Cluster headaches.
  • Decreasing sunburn when applied to the skin in a cream form before going into the sun.
  • Reducing anxiety before surgery.
  • Helping elderly people sleep after they stop taking a type of drug called benzodiazepines.
  • Helping decrease symptoms in patients who are quitting smoking.
  • Low blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Adjusting sleep schedule in people that do shift work.

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Depression.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), epilepsy, birth control, fibromyalgia, aging, menopausal symptoms, sleep problems associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insomnia caused by medications used for high blood pressure (beta-blockers), headache characterized by sudden sharp pain (idiopathic stabbing headache), migraine, and other conditions.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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