Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm.
The use of melatonin as a drug can entrain the circadian clock to environmental cycles
and can have beneficial effects for treatment of certain insomnias and jetlag. It may
also be beneficial for osteoporosis, menopause, depression, eating disorders, breast
cancer, prostate cancer, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, attention deficit /
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, sunburn, viral encephalitis, and heart disease.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland from the amino acid
tryptophan. The synthesis and release of melatonin are stimulated by darkness and
suppressed by light, suggesting the involvement of melatonin in circadian rhythm and
regulation of diverse body functions. Levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior
Synthetic melatonin supplements have been used for a variety of medical conditions, most
notably for disorders related to sleep.
Melatonin possesses antioxidant activity, and many of its proposed therapeutic or
preventive uses are based on this property.
Many supplemental melatonin users have reported an increase in the vividness or
frequency of dreams. Extremely high doses of melatonin (50mg) dramatically increased REM
sleep time and dream activity in both narcoleptics and those without narcolepsy.
Many psychoactive drugs, such as LSD and cocaine, increase melatonin synthesis. It has
been suggested that nonpolar (lipid-soluble) indolic hallucinogenic drugs emulate
melatonin activity in the awakened state and that both act on the same areas of the
brain. It has been suggested that psychotropic drugs be readmitted in the field of
scientific inquiry and therapy. If so, melatonin may be prioritized for research in this
reemerging field of psychiatry.