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Melatonin: Why this sleep-inducing hormone is a surprise hero in COVID-19

Many of us are familiar with the use of melatonin for better sleep, but did you know that melatonin might also be helpful in managing some of the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection?

Over the past few months, we have learned more and more about this new virus. Much of what we know about those individuals who become very sick from COVID-19 is the devastating effects this virus has on the lungs and respiratory system. Many of those who become hospitalized with coronavirus end up there because the inflammation in the lungs is so great that they are no longer able to get enough oxygen on their own.

Fascinatingly, there is new research that shows that in addition to helping induce sleep in the brain; melatonin has been found to have a very positive and potent anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs.

Our own body’s production of melatonin drops as we age, and may contribute to the development of sleep issues later in life. It is now being postulated that this drop in melatonin level may also be a player in why the coronavirus is hitting those over the age of 60 even harder than those who are younger and likely have adequate melatonin levels.

While the dose of melatonin needed to help with sleep is often somewhere between 3-5 mg in most, the doses of melatonin recommended for those patients who are sick with COVID-19 tend to be much higher.

Recently, studies have shown that higher doses of melatonin, around 20-50 mg up to twice daily, may be helpful in reducing inflammation in the lungs and promote better breathing in those who are sick with coronavirus.

It is important to understand that those recommendations are for those who are currently sick with the coronavirus. If you are looking for prevention strategies, I would recommend starting at much loser doses (like those doses used for sleep support) and working up over time.

Only recently we discovered that melatonin also functions as a potent antioxidant with direct effects on the brain. The science shows that as we sleep, the brain uses it’s own specialized detoxification system called the glymphatic system. Melatonin helps to support glymphatic detoxification and is now being widely recommended to promote brain specific detoxification. The use of melatonin is neuroprotective, and may support better cognition and help to stave off dementia-like symptoms.

If you feel groggy in the morning after taking melatonin, many doctors consider this a good sign that the brains detoxification system is working. You can try to reduce the dose to 1 mg for a time before continuing to build up your tolerance to using melatonin as a supplement to support brain health. Breath through it, grab a cup of coffee and embrace it as an effective detox strategy for your brain that may also help to protect your lungs from coronavirus.

Be well,

Dr. Amy Reidhead

Melatonin products we recommend
We also recommend these products that combine melatonin with l-theanine and 5-HTP to promote deeper sleep, immune function and brain health:
Here are our favorite melatonin products available both in our office and through Fullscript, our online pharmacy. These liposomal formulations offer a more efficient melatonin delivery system.

References: 

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7102583/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32314850/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32574327/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32347747/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32422305/
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