KTH Flashback: Far More Than Just a Sleep Supplement
Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
In the search for effective COVID-19 treatments, some researchers have been looking into – and reportedly finding some success with – things like high-dose vitamin C and zinc. Now, a new paper just published in Life Sciences suggests another possibility worth exploring: melatonin.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has become a pandemic with tens of thousands of infected patients. Based on clinical features, pathology, the pathogenesis of acute respiratory disorder induced by either highly homogenous coronaviruses or other pathogens, the evidence suggests that excessive inflammation, oxidation, and an exaggerated immune response very likely contribute to COVID-19 pathology. This leads to a cytokine storm and subsequent progression to acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and often death. Melatonin, a well-known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative molecule, is protective against ALI/ARDS caused by viral and other pathogens. Melatonin is effective in critical care patients by reducing vessel permeability, anxiety, sedation use, and improving sleeping quality, which might also be beneficial for better clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Notably, melatonin has a high safety profile. There is significant data showing that melatonin limits virus-related diseases and would also likely be beneficial in COVID-19 patients. Additional experiments and clinical studies are required to confirm this speculation.
Yes, melatonin has been shown to have potential benefits far beyond mere sleep support, something we looked at here on our blog back in 2019…
Melatonin May Benefit More Than Just Sleep Quality
Even if you can’t easily get the lesser known sleep supplements we looked at before, the more common ones can still be a big help – and not just for getting the quality sleep your body needs.
Take melatonin, for instance. This safe and non-addictive supplement has been shown to be effective for treating sleep disorders. For sleep support, Dr. V says you can start with 40 mg a half hour to two hours before you plan to go to sleep. If your sleep is interrupted, you can repeat this up to a total of 130 mg.
Some users report that they dream more vividly more frequently. Research has shown that very high doses may increase both dream activity and increased REM sleep time.
But melatonin also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help in other ways.
One avenue of research, for instance, suggests that melatonin may support mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are your cells’ power plants, converting food into energy. Impaired mitochondrial function leads to disease and aging.
As Life Extension has reported,
A contributor to mitochondrial dysfunction is the opening of a hole in the mitochondrial inner membrane that decreases their ability to produce energy. Preventing or closing this hole is a key to preserving youthful mitochondrial function. Up until recently, there were no drugs able to do so permanently.
[A] landmark 2017 study reveals that melatonin helps maintain normal levels of an enzyme whose job is to plug that hole.
By preserving mitochondrial function, melatonin exerts a highly targeted and specific action on a fundamental cause of aging.
Other research suggests that melatonin may help with gum disease, as well. For instance, one study published this past fall in the Journal of Periodontal Research looked at whether supplementation with melatonin could help reverse some of the damage that gum disease can do.
Seventy-four patients with both generalized chronic periodontitis and insomnia took part. Thirty-eight had conventional perio treatment – scaling and root planing – and were given 10 mg of melatonin to take before bedtime each day for a set period. The remaining 36 patients had the perio treatment and were given a placebo.
After 6 months, those in the melatonin group “showed significantly greater [clinical attachment level] gain and [pocket depth reduction]” compared to those in the control group. In other words, their condition improved. They also had lower levels of inflammatory cytokines in their saliva and lower insomnia scores, as well.
A review of the literature in the same journal noted other potential roles in oral health.
Functions of melatonin in the oral cavity are likely to relate primarily to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. These actions may suppress inflammation of the gingiva and periodontium, reduce alveolar bone loss, abrogate herpes lesions, enhance osteointegration of dental implants, limit oral cancer, and suppress disorders that have a free radical component. Sublingual melatonin tablets or oral melatonin sprays and topical melatonin-containing gel, if used on a regular basis, may improve overall oral health and reduce mucosal lesions.
While more research, particularly in humans, remains to be done, the initial findings are definitely promising.
Image by Michael Reuter, via Flickr