What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone” due to its role in promoting better sleep. It is a natural hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland. During the day the pineal gland remains inactive, but at night it produces melatonin to prepare our bodies for sleep. Due to its popularity as a sleep aid, many people don’t know that melatonin also has the potential to alleviate chronic pain and inflammation.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin is produced naturally by the brain at night. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which helps the body sleep better. People who have troubles falling asleep suffer from low melatonin levels. These people usually turn to melatonin first due to easy accessibility and natural properties.
As a supplement, melatonin is promoted for its effectiveness as a sleep aid. However, its role in reducing inflammation is also significant since most chronic pain conditions are caused by underlying inflammation.
Does Melatonin Work for Chronic Pain?
In 2016, a study found that melatonin was clinically effective in controlling pain in patients undergoing surgery in different pathological conditions. A previous study confirmed this, asserting melatonin reduces chronic and acute inflammation by regulating activation of the immune system.
In a recent article, researchers went as far as calling melatonin the “master regulator” of inflammation.
Melatonin and Chronic Pain Studies
Melatonin and its effect on chronic pain has been studied by numerous organizations and research groups in the past, and continues to be studied extensively in the world today. Below are some of the notable studies on melatonin.
- A 2013 study found that melatonin plays a role in the pathogenesis of conditions such as multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus. In animal models of these diseases, melatonin supplements were found to have protective effects.
- A 2019 review concluded that melatonin can serve as a new therapeutic target in treating autoimmune diseases.
- A 2016 review on chronic pain syndromes noted melatonin’s efficacy as an effective analgesic in several conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, and chronic back pain.
- A clinical trial consisting of 63 fibromyalgia patients established that melatonin, alone or in combination with the antidepressant amitriptyline, significantly reduced pain when compared to amitriptyline use alone.
- In a 2015 study, researchers found that melatonin significantly reduced pain intensity for back pain patients during movement and while at rest.
- In a clinical trial of 34 patients suffering with migraines, 30 mg of melatonin taken 30 minutes before bedtime reduced headache intensity, frequency and duration, with significant clinical reduction after one month.
- A 2018 review stated that melatonin supplements can regulate inflammation by acting as powerful antioxidants. This is because melatonin is said to remove uncontrolled free radicals in the body which is a major contributor to inflammation and chronic pain.
- A 2015 review studied evidence that concluded melatonin is a more potent antioxidant than vitamins C and E.
- A 2008 study concluded melatonin was effective in treating several drug-resistant bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii.
- A 2013 study also found that melatonin is a strong antimicrobial when tested against 10 different pathogens including coli and Salmonella.
Should You Try Melatonin for Pain?
Although scientific evidence for melatonin is only slowly emerging, the supplement is so widely-available, inexpensive and safe that it should be considered as an aid to your battle against chronic pain.
As previous research has shown, melatonin successfully treated many cases of fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other diseases associated with high oxidative stress levels.
If it works for you, then great! If it doesn’t, then you can try other forms of natural supplements to help you in your journey of living pain-free.