Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Side Effects of Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin is not U.S. FDA regulated, its primary medical role is an over-the-counter supplement that treats insomnia. Insomnia is when a person can't fall asleep easy, finds it difficult to stay asleep during the night, wakes up too early and has trouble staying awake during the day. Melatonin Definition: Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It plays an important role in regulating the circadian sleep-wake cycle, but has also been reported as a powerful antioxidant. Researchers believe that this hormone has the capability to restore a healthy immune system. Studies have revealed that people who are consistently exposed to artificial light, especially if they work the late shift, usually do not get enough sleep therefore they can compromise their immune system. Other studies reveal that cancer especially breast cancer was associated with low levels of melatonin.  What are the possible drug interactions and side effects of melatonin supplement?

Almost nothing has been recognized about interactions between the melatonin function and other drugs and health problems, but because melatonin is a potent natural hormone, caution should be used regarding the timing, dosage, etc. Taking melatonin along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness. Some possible melatonin interactions with sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others. Do not drive or use machinery for four to five hours after taking melatonin. WebMD states the following additional precautions and warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Melatonin is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in pregnancy. Don’t use it. Melatonin might also interfere with ovulation, making it more difficult to become pregnant. Not enough is known about the safety of using melatonin when breast-feeding. It’s best not to use it.

Children: Melatonin should not be used in most children. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Because of its effects on other hormones, melatonin in children might interfere with their development during adolescence.

High blood pressure: Melatonin can raise blood pressure in people who are taking certain medications to control blood pressure. Avoid using it.

Diabetes: Melatonin might increase blood sugar in people with diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully, if you have diabetes and take melatonin.

Depression: Melatonin can make symptoms of depression worse.

Seizure disorders: Using melatonin might increase the risk of having a seizure.

Melatonin and melatonin-containing supplements should be avoided in people with lupus and other autoimmune disorders because they may stimulate the immune system. In addition, people with these conditions should also avoid the prescription sleep aid Rozerem (ramelteon), because it mimics melatonin in the body. It is important that you understand the necessity of avoiding both melatonin and Rozerem, since sleep aids are often used to help people with fibromylagia and other conditions to attain normal sleep patterns. In general, be sure that you speak with your physician before taking any new medications or supplements.

[caption id="attachment_1357" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Side Effects of Melatonin Supplement Cartoon"][/caption]

Melatonin supplement side effects include; Tolerance, fatigue, nightmares, hypotension, sleep disorders, abdominal pain, among others have been reported. Long term administration of a pharmacologic dose (3mg) may disrupt, rather than improve, sleep in some individuals. Some authorities say melatonin use on consecutive nights should be avoided and only the lowest effective hypnotic dose should be taken. More research needs to be done on potential effects on reproductive hormones, deleterious metabolites, effects on the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and platelet aggregation, glucose metabolism, immunology and cancer.

Dosage: The 'pharmacologic dose' is 3 mg, but some research indicates lower doses (0.3 mg) are effective and 3 mg may result in disrupted sleep. The pharmacologically effective melatonin dosing has not been established by rigorous studies. Can you overdose on melatonin? Melatonin can accumulate in the liver if used in high does for a long period of time, several months or more. This can lead to higher than normal melatonin levels in the morning hours when they should be lowest, making it hard to awaken, causing mental fogginess, etc. High melatonin levels can also suppress normal adrenal function, especially in the early morning hours, leading to fatigue and lethargy. Melatonin should be only be used on a short term basis, in small doses (1-3 mg. are generated naturally when healthy) and as needed to correct abnormal sleep patterns, due to stress, jet lag, etc.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article there may be new sleep drugs on the market as several pharmaceutical companies are working on new approaches to treat insomnia. While most prescription drugs are generally safe, they can have side effects that act on the brain’s neurotransmitter GABA. The GABA drugs are effective, doctors say, but can come with significant side effects including daytime drowsiness, sometimes called the hangover effect, and memory and balance problems. They can be dangerous when combined with other sedatives, notably alcohol, and there are some concerns that the medications can be addictive and abused. The drugs also can cause people to engage in strange nocturnal activities—sleep eating, sexsomnia and sleepwalking—that they don't recall the next day. The hope is developing a sleep aid that has fewer side effects without the possibility for dependency and cognition problems the following day.

Neurim Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is seeking FDA approval of Circadin, a prescription form of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. The drug, which delivers melatonin in a prolonged-release formulation, is already available in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Neurim states that Circadin is the first drug shown to significantly improve quality of sleep and morning alertness in primary insomnia patients aged 55 years and older-suggesting more restorative sleep, and without withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. Circadin’s inactive ingredients include calcium and magnesium which are known to help those with sleep problems. See Magnesium Sleep for more information. Notes: In the U.S. melatonin is currently classified as a dietary supplement and not subject to FDA approval. In Europe, melatonin is classified as a neurohormone and cannot be sold over the counter. There is very little data on the toxicology of melatonin.

Remember, many medical conditions can contribute to insomnia including depression, sleep apnea, heart failure, arthritis and chronic pain. There is mounting evidence that a predisposition to insomnia may be partly genetic as well. Stress, alcohol, caffeine and menopausal symptoms can also fuel insomnia. Sleeping pills are not an alternative to taking a look at your life and figuring out why you're having a sleeping problem.

The content provided in Side Effects of Melatonin Supplement is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

When purchasing a supplement on line it is recommended that you do not solely rely on the information presented. The information and statements regarding their products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. Therefore, they (the online distributor) and assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements made about the products.

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  1. Excellent information for anyone who needs a good night’s sleep. Very informative article & I highly recommend this to others.

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