Medical research

Melatonin: finally, a supplement that actually boosts memory

Walk down the supplement aisle in your local drugstore and you'll find fish oil, ginkgo, vitamin E, and ginseng, all touted as memory boosters that can help you avoid cognitive decline. You'll also find melatonin, which is ...

Medical research

Worms reveal why melatonin promotes sleep

Melatonin is used as a dietary supplement to promote sleep and get over jet lag, but nobody really understands how it works in the brain. Now, researchers at UConn Health show that melatonin helps worms sleep, too, and they ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Researchers identify melatonin as possible COVID-19 treatment

Results from a new Cleveland Clinic-led study suggest that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is commonly used as an over-the-counter sleep aid, may be a viable treatment option for COVID-19.

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Melatonin

Melatonin i/ˌmɛləˈtoʊnɪn/, also known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants, and microbes. In animals, circulating levels of the hormone melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.

Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors, while others are due to its role as a pervasive and powerful antioxidant, with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.

In mammals, melatonin is secreted into the blood by the pineal gland in the brain. Known as the "hormone of darkness," it is secreted in darkness in both day-active (diurnal) and night-active (nocturnal) animals.

It may also be produced by a variety of peripheral cells such as bone marrow cells, lymphocytes, and epithelial cells. Usually, the melatonin concentration in these cells is much higher than that found in the blood, but it does not seem to be regulated by the photoperiod.

Research has shown that when bird chicks ingest melatonin-rich plant feed, such as rice, the melatonin binds to melatonin receptors in their brains. No food has been found to elevate plasma melatonin levels in humans.

Products containing melatonin have been available over-the-counter as dietary supplements in the United States since the mid-1990s. In many other countries, the over-the-counter sale of this neurohormone is not permitted or requires a prescription, and the U.S. Postal Service lists unapproved melatonin preparations among items prohibited by Germany.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA