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Melatonin As a Possible COVID-19 Treatment
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Melatonin As a Possible COVID-19 Treatment

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Researchers in China found that melatonin, a supplement mainly used for sleep, may be a useful treatment for COVID-19. 

Melatonin is a commonly used over-the-counter supplement that is well-established as an effective sleep aid. In light of the pandemic, melatonin has come under the microscope as a potential treatment for SARS-Cov-2 infections because of it’s potential as an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory action, and its ability to regulate the immune system. Further, it induces quality sleep which helps the body rest and heal.

Melatonin is a supplement that is generally safe for most people to take without risk of harm, which makes it appealing as a complementary treatment for COVID-19 infections. Here are the details on melatonin as a potential treatment for coronavirus.

Melatonin: “the sleep hormone”

Better outcomes in COVID-19 patients who take melatonin can be attributed to a few mechanisms. First, melatonin is your body’s “sleep hormone” and improved sleep quality over the duration of illness could lead to improved recovery 

Melatonin as an antioxidant

Second, melatonin has strong antioxidant properties. When your body fights an illness, higher levels of free radicals form, which are harmful forms of oxygen. These oxygen atoms can cause damage at the cellular level unless they are bound to an antioxidant. Scientists have found that oxidative stress (high levels of circulating free radicals) is linked to heart and lung damage associated with COVID-19. Antioxidants sweep away free radicals before they can damage nearby cells.   

Melatonin and inflammation

A little inflammation is helpful when fighting an illness – it’s your body’s initial immune response to infection or injury. Too much inflammation causes damage to healthy cells and tissues.

Inflammation is a key player in the progression of COVID-19 from a mild to severe illness, so keeping inflammation down during the course of an infection is of paramount importance. Inflammation is associated with an increase in the production of cytokines, which are a class of inflammatory proteins that cause apoptosis, or cell death. 

This is a good thing in the presence of viruses and bacteria, but not so great when there are too many cytokines acting on healthy tissues. Melatonin measurably reduces the amount of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could spare delicate heart and lung tissues from injury.

Melatonin as an immune system regulator

As with inflammation, the right amount of circulating immune cells is a good thing, but too much can cause damage. Melatonin has been found to slow overproduction of immune cells before it gets out of hand and they start destroying healthy cells and tissues. 

Because of its multi-angle approach to viruses, melatonin is thought that melatonin is one of the main reasons why children are lower risk for a severe coronavirus infection.

Effective dose of melatonin

Different dosages of melatonin are used for different things. To help you sleep, most supplements contain 3mg or less of melatonin. 

For immune and inflammation-related applications, researchers found that 6 mg/d melatonin reduced inflammatory activity in patients with diabetes mellitus and periodontitis. Another study found that 25 mg/d of melatonin for 6 months reduced inflammatory proteins in multiple sclerosis patients. 

Melatonin has a high safety profile, which means it can be safely used with most patients. 

One common effect that people experience is a “melatonin hangover,” which is grogginess the morning after taking melatonin. Unfortunately, if you’re feeling it in the morning, you’ll have to wait it out. To avoid a groggy morning next time, cut your dose in half and see how you feel, and cut back even more the next time if you need to. 

Disclaimer: This article was not written by medical professionals. Seek a doctor's aid for medical advice and if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

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