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Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle by regulating other hormones and maintaining the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour "clock" that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night because when it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. Melatonin supplements taken at night might be helpful in treating jet lag or other sleep disorders that involve poor alignment of your circadian rhythm. Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause).  Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system.  

Also known as:  5-Methoxy-N-Acetyltryptamine, MEL, Melatonina, Mélatonine, MLT, N-Acétyl-5-Méthoxytryptamine, Pineal Hormone

Diseases and Conditions

Melatonin has been used to help with the following conditions:

  • Insomnia
  • Heart Disease
  • Menopause
  • Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
  • Breast Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Chronic Pain
  • Sunburn
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Assisted Reproduction


Melatonin may cause vivid dreams or nightmares or disrupt circadian rhythms. Additionally, melatonin may cause drowsiness, stomach cramps, dizziness, headache, irritability, reduced libido, gynecomastia, as well as a decreased sperm count. Likely safe when used orally and appropriately, short-term or as a single dose. However, melatonin is likely unsafe for pregnant or nursing women. Melatonin may worsen symptoms of depression and caution should be taken for those over 65 years of age.

Medication Interactions

Medications known to interact with melatonin include:

  • Antidepressant Medications
  • Antipsychotic Medications
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
    • Nifedipine (Procardia)
    • Amlodipine (Norvasc) 
    • Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)
    • Diltiazem (Cardizem)
    • Felodipine (Plendil)
    • Nisoldipine (Sular)
    • Bepridil (Vascor)
  • Beta-Blockers
    • Acebutolol (Sectral)
    • Atenolol (tenormin)
    • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
    • Carteolol (Cartrol)
    • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
    • Nadolol (Corgard)
    • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants)
  • Interleukin-2
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Steroids and immunosuppressant medications
  • Tamoxifen


Supplement and Food Interactions

Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol have been found to lower levels of melatonin available in the body.


There is no available recommended dosage for melatonin supplementation. People respond differently to different dosages of melatonin and have varying sensitivity. Melatonin dosage ideally should be around the amount produced naturally in our bodies (< 0.3 mg per day). In children, taking between 1 to 5 mg of melatonin per day may cause seizures. In adults, 0.5 to 5 mg of melatonin has been taken for jet lag about 1 hour before bedtime. 


Melatonin can be found in several types of foods and in plants. Foods with melatonin include:

  • Tomato
  • Walnuts
  • Cereal (barley, rye)
  • Strawberries
  • Olive Oil
  • Unprocessed Cow Milk
  • Night-time Milk
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Cherries

Melatonin is also found in the following supplements:

  • Periostracum cicadae
  • Babreum coscluea
  • Phellodendron amurense
  • Coptis chinensis
  • Angelica sinsensis
  • Ziziphus jujuba
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
  • Panax notoginseng
  • Curcuma aeruginosa
  • Schisandra Chinensis

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