Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Background

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland from the amino acid tryptophan. The production and release of melatonin are stimulated by darkness and decreased by light, suggesting that melatonin is involved in circadian rhythm (the internal body clock) and regulation of diverse body functions. Levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to bedtime.

The most common use of melatonin is to aid in sleep. The strongest evidence supporting the use of melatonin is for delayed sleep phase syndrome, insomnia in children and the elderly, jet lag, and sleep problems in people with behavioral, developmental, or mental disorders. The weakest evidence in support of melatonin is for work shift sleep disorder. Good evidence in support of melatonin for other uses is lacking.

New drugs that block the effects of melatonin are being developed. These include BMS-214778 and luzindole, and they may have uses in various disorders.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

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