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Melatonin Side Effects


Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in human body, it is secreted at night by the pineal gland in the center of our brain and sends a signal to regulate the sleep-wake cycle (the circadian rhythm) in the sleep center of the brain. Interestingly, melatonin is also produced in the retina, the skin, and the GI tract, but this is not the melatonin what affects your biological sleep clock.

 

Melatonin Benefits

Melatonin’s main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to prepare for being awake. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin. Researches show that adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep.

Make sure you also get informed about all the possible melatonin side effects before using it.

 

Sources of Melatonin

1. The Medical Source

Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory. It is most commonly available in pill form, but melatonin is also available in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue. This allows the melatonin to be absorbed directly into the body.

Melatonin supplements are used to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used to prevent jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle. Melatonin is also used for the inability to fall asleep (insomnia).


Melatonin Side Effects

According to WebMD are melatonin supplements safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use.

However, it can cause some melatonin side effects including:

  • headache,
  • short-term feelings of depression,
  • daytime sleepiness,
  • dizziness,
  • stomach cramps,
  • and irritability.

Do not drive or use machinery for four to five hours after taking melatonin. 

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding - possibly safe to use during pregnancy. Do not 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 is best not to use it.
Infants and children possibly unsafe, because of its effects on other hormones might interfere with development during adolescence.
Bleeding disorders - might make bleeding worse in people with bleeding disorders. 
High blood pressure - can raise blood pressure in people who are taking certain medications to control blood pressure. Avoid using it.
Diabetes - might increase blood sugar in people with diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully, if you have diabetes and take melatonin.
Depression -  can make symptoms of depression worse.
Seizure disorders - might increase the risk of having a seizure.
Transplant recipients - can increase immune function and might interfere with immunosuppressive therapy used by people receiving transplants. 

 

2. Natural Sources

As the many side effects of medical melatonin may make you cautious, there are other options as well. According to PubMed this hormone is not only produced in the pineal gland—it is also naturally present in edible plants. Consuming foodstuffs containing the hormone melatonin could raise its physiologic concentration in blood and enchance human health. Foods with natural melatonin are for example orange bell peppers, tomatoes, almonds and walnuts, flaxseeds, a few spices like fenugreek, mustard seeds and berries like grapes, goji berries, tart cherries and raspberries. In order to avoid the unpleasant melatonin side effects of synthetic supplements you can always choose the natural sources which in addition are tasty and benefit your body in many other ways as well.

According to warious researches tart cherries are often mentioned as the best source of natural melatonin. During the ten months of the year when cherries are out of season, dried cherries and cherry juice (especially tart cherry juice, which contains less sugar) are good substitutes. There are also vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D, the B vitamins, folic acid and calcium in tart cherries that have been shown to help with both energy and relaxation.

Researchers who’ve studied the melatonin content of cherries recommend eating fresh cherries or drink tart cherry juice an hour before bedtime.

Other plants mentioned also contain melatonin, but you need to eat more of them to get the same effect. Exept for the almonds, raspberries and goji berries, which are told to contain even more of that natural melatonin than tart cherries which are already on the leading position according to the various researches. You’d be surprised that almonds are told to contain 2 times as much of melatonin than tart cherries, raspberries have the amount of four times more melatonin than tart cherries and goji berries are just off the charts.

So be careful to do your own research as well!

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Conclusions!

At the end of the day (no pun intended), your first line of defense for sleep problems is good health and good sleep hygiene. Make it a habit to prepare your body and your mind at the end of every day to get the rest you need.

As an alternative you can always choose natural means before medical ones as the later may bring you side effects more unpleasant than the problem that made you look for a solution! You can be sure not to suffer under circumstances mentioned under the medical melatonin side effects list when eating fresh fruits and drinking the juice made of them. Just make sure you’r not allergic to them!

Enjoy a good rest and proper sleep!

 

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References:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-940-melatonin.aspx?activeingredientid=940&activeingredientname=melatonin

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21432696

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/tart-cherries-for-insomnia/

http://www.immunehealthscience.com/foods-with-melatonin.html

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/melatonin-not-magic-bullet-sleep

http://www.immunehealthscience.com/support-files/melatonin_in_cherries_study.pdf