Often referred to as the sleeping hormone, melatonin has more applications than just inducing sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body but can also be produced synthetically. In any of its forms, melatonin is an effective treatment for an array of conditions.
Health Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin’s main purpose revolves around regulating the body’s internal clock. As such, it is often used for treating jet lag, adjusting an individual’s sleep versus wake cycle, and helping blind individuals establish a regular day and night cycle. The hormone also has other applications, though.
Melatonin can also be used to treat sleep-related issues. Such conditions include insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and regulation issues involving individuals with developmental disorders such as autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities.
The hormone can also be used to treat a variety of conditions unrelated to sleep. Other applications of melatonin include Alzheimer’s disease, ringing in the ears, depression, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Other conditions including migraines, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, and osteoporosis also respond well to the treatment. Melatonin may also be an effective treatment for preventing breast, brain, lung, prostate, head, neck, and gastrointestinal cancer.
While its most well-known application is inducing sleep, melatonin can be used to treat a variety of other conditions as well. Individuals taking melatonin should be careful when driving or operating heavy machinery as the hormone may contribute to irregular waking periods.
What is Melatonin?
Known scientifically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, melatonin is a naturally occurring compound found in all living things including humans, animals, plants, and microbes. The natural levels of melatonin in humans and animals vary throughout the day and follow a common cycle that generally regulates sleeping and waking.
While it is most commonly known as the “hormone of darkness” as it is secreted at dark or bedtime, melatonin also has other purposes. Melatonin also functions as an antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in the body. It also plays a role in controlling weight gain and inducing weight loss as well as improving the blood lipid profile by raising good cholesterol levels and reducing bad cholesterol levels. Research has even suggested that the hormone plays a role in female fertility.