What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland, which is a pea-sized gland in the center of the brain. Melatonin plays a role in how the body maintains its circadian rhythms, which is a regulation of the body’s physiology in coordination with the passing of each day. This regulation is based a great deal on how the body restores itself during sleep, and as melatonin production increases during the darker hours of the day, it is important in establishing normal sleep patterns. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant, has been explored as having a role in autism, and has been studied for its role in dreams and its interaction with the immune system. Melatonin is available in the American market as a supplement, though other countries consider it prescription medication or have banned it as an illegal substance.
What are the health benefits of Melatonin?
The use of melatonin as a supplement is primarily based on the hormone’s relationship to sleep, and as such is often used to treat jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and certain types of insomnia. Other treatment possibilities for melatonin are based on its possible treatment of symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, headaches, obesity, and cancer.
Are there any precautions for taking Melatonin?
Because melatonin is sold in the United States as a supplement and not a drug, there is little regulation regarding its use. Only short-term studies have been conducted regarding its use, though these trials have not deemed it to be toxic. High doses of melatonin, which are estimated to be those over three milligrams per day, may result in grogginess, headaches, nausea, or disturbed sleep through dreams or nightmares.
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