Benefits of Melatonin
Although melatonin appears to be beneficial in a number of ways, the naturally occurring hormone seems to be most effective in treating sleep disorders. It plays an important role in the circadian rhythm, which regulates sleeping, waking, and other functions. Research suggests that there may be other benefits; for example, the supplement may someday be used as a sunscreen or form of birth control.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is commonly used as a supplement, often for sleeping problems. The supplements are often claimed to be helpful for the following purposes:
- Treating various sleep disorders (such as insomnia, jet lag, and others)
- Preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease
- Treating fibromyalgia
- Treating chronic fatigue syndrome
- Preventing cluster or migraine headaches
- Treating cancer (when used in combination with standard cancer treatment).
There are many other purported melatonin uses, some of which are more valid than others (see Does Melatonin Work?). As with many supplements, claims of melatonin's benefits are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically.
Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many can be quite toxic (for instance, many poisons are natural products). It is important to remember that melatonin is a hormone that can have significant effects on the human body, effects that are not always desirable.