Melatonin is widely known for its non-habit forming ability to help people naturally fall asleep, and stay asleep. Recent studies have pursued its benefits in other areas. The most recent study was conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and published in the PLOS Biology medical journal. The question we are addressing here is: Can melatonin help to prevent, or even treat, COVID-19 and other viruses?
Melatonin is a natural “hormone that your brain produces” from the pineal gland “in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and with sleep. Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production,” according to this medical journal.
For those who are staring at screens, whether it’s your phone, television, computer, or all three, melatonin production slows. This is a big factor in the creation of blue-light glasses, to block harmful rays from disrupting your hormones. It is also a factor in the production of melatonin pills. These pills can be bought at any general store and taken to help reduce the effects of:
- Jet lag
- Sleep disturbances
- Schedule regulation (circadian rhythm)
Melatonin and Our Immune System
Viral infections of any kind can be life-threatening to our immune system. This is especially true for those who have immunodeficiency disorders and are more susceptible to catching a virus.
As previously stated, melatonin plays a large role in our body’s ability to develop a circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythm is disrupted, this “interferes with nocturnal melatonin signals leading to the impairment of several physiological cell actions and homeostasis metabolic rhythms causing an acceleration of malignancy,” according to this medical journal.
Melatonin works to improve our immunity on a cellular level by stimulating “the production of progenitor cells.” When we sleep, our bodies have a chance at recovering, healing, and getting into prime shape for the next day: both mentally and physically. Additional research has proven that melatonin is safe for those with an autoimmune disease.
Melatonin and COVID-19
How exactly does all of this play into melatonin assisting with the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19? The hormone of melatonin is associated with a “30% reduced likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19,” according to this WebMD article.
Before we dive further into the specifics, we’d like to urge you to consult with your physician before introducing melatonin into your routine. Feixiong Cheng of the Cleveland Clinic study was quoted saying that “large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19...we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”
This study took a narrowed look at patient data for those who died from COVID-19 and other diseases, along with current drugs that are on the market that could help. Those who died of COVID-19 had symptoms most similar to neurological and lung diseases. It was determined by the researchers of this study that 34 drugs currently available over-the-counter could potentially help with these specific diseases. Of these 34 drugs, melatonin came up as the top choice in terms of being able to help eliminate symptoms and prevent infection from viruses.
Medical journals have revealed that “in addition to mentioned viral infectious diseases, melatonin has been shown to play therapeutic roles in infection induced by [the] Ebola virus,” which is extremely rare after eradication decades ago, and all the same deadly.
The same journal goes on to state that melatonin has “beneficial properties in controlling animal models of West Nile virus.” Melatonin has proven efficacy in the regulation of our immune system’s strength and functionality including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
While the effects of melatonin in the treatment and prevention of viruses, including COVID-19, is promising, it’s not guaranteed and more research is needed.
Dr. Cheng of the Cleveland Clinic study concludes, “our study provides a powerful integrative network medicine strategy to predict disease manifestations associated with COVID-19 and facilitate the search for an effective treatment.” Please consult with your physician before taking melatonin as a preventative measure, as the proper dosage needs to be taken into consideration in addition to the sedating side effects. For these purposes, melatonin should only be taken at night.
Understanding the basics of your hormones is essential to optimizing your health, well-being and immune system.
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