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Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the body. It is generally secreted at night, where in most people, levels are the greatest during the normal hours of sleep. 

The level in the body rapidly increases in the late evening, peaks after midnight and decreases toward the morning. It promotes sleep by fixing abnormalities in sleep-wake cycles and by releasing a direct soporific effect, namely when taken during the day.

It is now believed that the initiation and overall quality of sleep is related to this natural rise and fall of the hormone. Most people exhibit normal day and night levels until they reach their 20's. Levels tend to decline with age and by their 60's, many people exhibit significantly decreased day and night levels. 

This may be one of the reasons older people experience difficulty sleeping. This connection between levels and the quality of sleep has contributed to the interest in using it as a natural sleeping aid. It may also benefit travelers crossing time zones and shift workers experiencing disrupted sleep patterns and jet lag.  

Supplements should be taken in the evening. Studies also suggest it may affect the immune response to cancer, possibly by creating effects on cytokines, which inhibit the growth of tumors by killing infected cells.

Because it plays an important role in regulating the body clock, taking a supplement may be helpful in alleviating jet lag or getting used to working an unusual shift. It is unknown if it can improve the quality of sleep or alertness during the day. Extensive studies have not been conducted, but it is generally safe for very short-term use for jet lag.

  • Side effects: No major side effects have been reported in short-term use. Effects of long-term use are not known, and it is therefore not recommended beyond short-term use. Chronic use may affect your body’s ability to manufacture the hormone.
  • Indications: Should not be used by children or pregnant and nursing women. Levels may be affected by aspirin, beta blocker drugs, or tranquilizers. Long-term use is not recommended. Consult your physician and use as directed.


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View Our Complete List Of Books About Herbs

 The Melatonin Miracle: Nature's Age-Reversing, Disease-Fighting, Sex-Enhancing Hormone
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