[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]E[/su_dropcap]nvision arising every morning with pain and fatigue. Diseases like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and insomnia produce symptoms of pain, tiredness, sleep disturbances, emotional alterations, bowel irregularities and an impaired ability to concentrate. The symptoms in these conditions never go away and individuals with these and other painful conditions look for medication and treatments to deal with the symptoms affecting their everyday lives. Since few medications provide complete symptom relief, the supplement, melatonin, opens up new opportunities for treatment to improve quality of life through improved sleep.
Melatonin’s Source in the Body
According to the “International Journal of Clinical Practice” in 2007, the discovery of melatonin occurred 50 years ago as a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Investigation of the substance uncovered the source in the body as the pineal gland. The pineal gland is located deep in the center of the brain. Light and dark environments regulate the secretions of melatonin in the body. After the release of melatonin from the pineal gland, the melatonin spreads to other areas of the body from the brain.
Action of Melatonin
The University of Maryland Medical Center describes melatonin as sustaining the body’s circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm regulates the body’s 24-hour clock that takes a vital role in falling asleep and waking up. The body produces melatonin during the dark cycle of night. Levels of melatonin reach highest levels prior to bedtime. According to the “International Journal of Clinical Practice” in 2007, scientific evidence shows that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the duration of sleep.
Use of Melatonin in Chronic Condition
According to “Clinical Rheumatology” in 2000, the use of oral melatonin produced sedative effects to decrease sleep disturbance and showed an improvement of mood, pain and fatigue. The study showed that the strongest independent predictor of fatigue and pain was sleep disturbances. Studies are ongoing to validate these findings.
Side Effects of Melatonin
Mayo Clinic.com describes some of the common side effects associated with oral melatonin, but research documents most patients report very few side effects over a wide range of doses. The side effects that can occur include such symptoms as daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, abdominal discomfort, confusion, sleepwalking and nightmares. There is some risk of dependency. Since, some medications interact with melatonin, your healthcare provider should be contacted prior to taking certain medications, such as, anticoagulants or blood thinning medications, immune suppressants, diabetic medication and birth control pills.
Where to Find Melatonin and How Much to Take
Pharmacies and natural food stores carry melatonin as an over-the-counter supplement. The Medline Plus website at the National Institute of Health describes oral doses of 0.3 mg to 5 mg as the normal dose range. Melatonin 3-5 mg promotes hypnotic properties to assist in sleep problems. Individuals use doses of melatonin of 0.5 mg to 3 mg for sleep problems with jet lag. Headache suffers ingest a dose of melatonin 10 mg in the evening to reduce the severity of headaches.
Before Using Medication
Of course, it is always wise to consider the side effects and risks before taking medication, but one should also evaluate the severity of their condition and seek out any alternatives. Those suffering from mild pain or trouble sleeping may look to behavioral techniques that are incredibly effective at stimulating sleep. Educating yourself on healthy sleeping habits have proven to improve sleep and general health. If you are struggling with sleep and have questions regarding how to improve your sleep health, please contact us for a consultation.
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