Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is commonly used as a supplement to help treat sleeping disorders. It can also be used to treat cancer (when combined with standard cancer treatment), prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease, and prevent cluster or migraine headaches. Most melatonin supplements on the market today are synthetic versions of the hormone. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, and depression.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland (a small gland in the brain) that is available as a supplement. As a supplement, it is not regulated as tightly as prescription or non-prescription medications. Most of the supplements on the market today are synthetic versions of this naturally occurring hormone. Melatonin is often claimed to be helpful for the following uses:
 
(Click Benefits of Melatonin for more information, including additional uses.)
 

How Does Melatonin Work?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It seems to play an important role in the circadian rhythm (the daily internal rhythm that regulates sleeping, waking, and other functions). Normally, levels of this hormone increase at night and decrease during the day. Sometimes, people have low melatonin levels or levels that are a bit mixed up, with high levels during the day and low levels at night. It is thought that such problems can lead to sleep disorders. Taking it at night helps to replicate the natural rhythm, which can help people reestablish normal sleeping patterns.
 
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant, which is why it may have some usefulness for preventing cancer or other conditions of aging (such as Alzheimer's disease). It is not known how it might work for preventing headaches. For cancer treatment, it seems to work in numerous ways. It may directly inhibit tumor growth, affect hormones that stimulate cancers, and also help prevent or lessen some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
 
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