Melatonin is a hormone made by a part of the brain called the pineal gland, a pea-size structure at the center of the brain, as our eyes register the fall of darkness.
At night melatonin is produced to help our bodies control our sleep-wake cycles.
Melatonin may help our bodies know when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up.
Melatonin supplements (in pill form) can also be taken. There are two types of melatonin that may be used in these pills: natural and synthetic (man-made).
Natural Melatonin Supplements
Natural melatonin is made from the pineal gland of animals. This form could be infected with a virus and is not recommended.
Synthetic Melatonin Supplements
The synthetic form of melatonin does not have this risk. If you are not sure if your melatonin is natural or synthetic, ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking it.
When we are exposed to excessive light in the evening or too little light during the daytime, normal melatonin cycles are disrupted. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disturb melatonin cycles.
In addition, some experts say that normal cycles and production of melatonin are disturbed with the exposure to low frequency electromagnetic fields.
Uses Of Melatonin
Melatonin have many other uses and has been reported to make people feel better, strengthen the immune system, and reduce free radicals in the body.
It can also be taken to prevent jet lag. Beyond that, there is little scientific evidence that melatonin has a role in promoting health or treating disease. Melatonin can be used to treat insomnia.
General information about the melatonin:
- Melatonin is sold without a prescription in health food stores and drug stores in the United States. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not approve melatonin products. Since melatonin products are not regulated by a government agency, their purity, safety and effectiveness can't be assured.
- Some people who have taken melatonin have reported drowsiness, headache, a "heavy-head" feeling, stomach discomfort, and depression or feeling hangover.
- Melatonin is also one of the hormones that controls the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. As a result, it helps determine when menstruation begins, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when menstruation ends (menopause).
- Young children have the highest levels of nighttime melatonin and these levels are thought to diminish progressively with age. Therefore old age people suffer from disrupted sleep due to decrease in the levels of melatonin.
- Melatonin also has strong antioxidant properties and preliminary proof suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system. Because melatonin is a potent hormone, it's advisable to check with a healthcare provider before using it as an antioxidant supplement.
Melatonin Side Effects
One of the least poisonous substances known is melatonin. The only side effects related with taking a large amount of melatonin are continued sleepiness and a slower reaction time. Many people are discouraged from taking melatonin.
It is also not recommended during pregnancy or for women who want to conceive. People with the symptoms of severe mental illness, severe allergies, autoimmune diseases, or immune system cancers such as leukemia should not be taking melatonin.