Melatonin: Bustin’ the Myths

What Are You, a Doctor? 

No, I’m not a doctor. So, this won’t be medical advice. But, I am about to dispel some myths about melatonin.

I work at a natural supplements store. A lot of people come in to buy melatonin. Also, a lot of people come in spouting commonly held beliefs about melatonin that are objectively false. Just in case you hold one or more of these beliefs, I will now disabuse you of them.

1. “If I take melatonin, it means by body will produce less and less of it, so I will become dependent on melatonin supplement.”  There is simply no evidence of this phenomenon. Melatonin is produced by your pineal gland in response to night-time darkness. No study has ever shown that taking melatonin affects your body’s ability to produce it, and several small studies have showed just the opposite, that taking melatonin supplements has no affect on your body’s ability to make more of it.

2. “Melatonin is addictive.” This myth may be a spin-off of the above myth that taking melatonin supplements decreases your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. That myth was dispelled above. There are 108 number of addictive substances listed by the American Addiction Centers, and melatonin is not among them. They even list marijuana, which, though potentially habit-forming, is not addictive. It’s worth noting that melatonin is not considered a controlled substance by the DEA. Might it be secretly addictive? Unlikely, since it is a well-studied substance. Melatonin has no addictive properties; it is not addictive. If anyone tells you it is, you have my permission to rolls your eyes at them.

3. “Melatonin will make me live forever,” Surprisingly, this one is closer to the truth than the previous two. Melatonin supplementation has been shown to increase the lifespan of fruit flies by up to 33%. One study indicated that it also increased the likelihood of spontaneous tumors in mice, so there’s that. As for humans, there’s a dearth of long-term studies, but there’s no indication of serious side-effects from taking melatonin (outside of drug interactions with, for example, sedatives).

4. “Melatonin doesn’t work for me.” What are you using it for? If it’s to knock you out like a sleeping pill the no, it probably won’t do that. Melatonin has been proven to regulate sleep patterns by affecting your circadian rhythms. It’s therefore great for many people who are traveling across time zones. Millions of people benefit from the sleep support that melatonin supplements offer.

Melatonin is a natural hormone, but it’s unnatural to take it as a supplement. It may react with medications, and may interfere with pregnancies, so consult your health care practitioner.

And now this:


One Response to Melatonin: Bustin’ the Myths

  1. Kevin Burdeshaw says:

    I have used melatonin for a couple of years now – I can see it’s popularity rising – probably because people are staying up until the brink of bedtime reading blogs like this.


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