The neurotransmitter tryptophan serves as a precursor for the release of the hormone melatonin by the pineal gland located within the human brain. Owing to its sleep aiding characteristics, since the year 1996 melatonin supplements have been in use in the US. However, the US FDA does not approve or regulate the sale of these products.
The authority has also given warnings to the consumers with respect to the intake of these supplements and has advised them to consult a physician before commencing its intake and strictly adhere to the dosage mentioned on the labels. The FDA further suggests immediate medical assistance in case the individual experiences any side effects after the intake of the melatonin supplements. Although many professionals recommend the usage of melatonin for inducing sleep, particularly in cases of jet lag and sleep disorders; the experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) still emphasize on the necessity of detailed studies on the subject to authenticate the safe use of the hormone.
Nevertheless, the studies conducted by the NIH highlight that when a dosage of 0.5 to 50 milligrams of melatonin is administered thirty to sixty minutes prior to bed time to patients suffering from sleep disorders, the effect is certainly promising. It has been noticed that the hormone decreases the sleep latency, which illustrates the time an individual takes to fall asleep. Therefore, the supplement may prove beneficial to patients experiencing severe sleep disorders especially in cases of insomnia and delayed sleep syndrome. The supplement has been evaluated as a potent remedy for overcoming jet lag as well.
Some of the other health disorders that melatonin is utilized towards include Alzheimer’s disease, ringing in the ears, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, migraine and other forms of headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), osteoporosis, a movement disorder known as tardive dyskinesia (TD), epilepsy, as an antiaging agent, for menopause, and as a contraceptive. The hormone is also administered to patients suffering from various forms of cancer such as breast cancer, cancer of the brain, lung cancer, cancer of the prostate, head cancer, neck cancer, and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. However, since melatonin is known to cause various side effects such as headaches, giddiness, pain in the abdomen, vivid dreams, nightmares, sleep walking, reduction in sperm count, and decrease in sexual libido; therefore one must take care about the dosage being administered and stop the intake after three months. Patients of diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease must consult their doctors prior to taking melatonin supplements as the hormone may interfere with the other medications prescribed for these medical conditions.
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