What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is primarily a sleep hormone that the body naturally makes to regulate the “sleep-wake” cycle. It’s naturally released by the pineal gland. It’s use is fairly widely prescribed all over the world, for issues such as Sleep Disorders, Dementia and those suffering from jetlag, as well as being a highly useful antioxidant. In most countries it can be acquired fairly easily, and often quite cheaply, coming down to a few dollars for a month’s supply. It can be found both in the body, in various foods, or taken as an oral supplement.
Read on to learn more about Melatonin in Australia.
What Are the Benefits of Melatonin?
Melatonin controls the circadian rhythm, blood pressure regulation and, for animals, seasonal reproduction. These effects are acquired through its antioxidant properties and activating melatonin receptors. There is knowledge that it interacts with the immune system, both indirectly(through sleep regulation) and directly, however the exact details are not completely known.
Melatonin, is one of the main hormones responsible for regulating sleep. The release of melatonin is normal by about three months of age in babies, but slowly begin to decrease as people age. During puberty, the release of melatonin in the body becomes delayed, leading to people becoming “night owls” when they’re teenagers. Taking melatonin supplements simply deliver this at normal time.
Melatonin acts as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger. Melatonin inhibits the chemical reaction of oxidation, which leads to the the damage of cells and DNA. This is done by absorbing harmful particles into its chemical structure, preventing it from interacting with any sensitive bit of the body.
Although most studies have confirmed the relationship between melatonin and the immune system, it’s not completely known. It’s been called an “immunological buffer” by a study looking at the effects. It can sort of “jump start” the immune system against virus by increasing cytokine, however in chronic exacerbated immune responses, it could have a negative effect. This means that, depending on the circumstances, it can be used to help fight illnesses, but care should be taken when looking at whether a specific case will be helped or hindered by the treatment.
Melatonin in the Media
Land Mark Study in educating people about Melatonin
Melatonin, although having played a vital part in all of our hormonal system, has only fairly recently been understood. The first time melatonin was introduced as a serious supplement to help treat sleep disorders was in a 2000 study, that gained a lot of media attention, showing many people about the benefits and it’s use a way to battle sleep disorders.
Too many children being prescribed melatonin(May 2017 theguardian.com)
However, many people have criticized the prescription of melatonin to children. With a general increase of disorders, especially in those younger than 14, melatonin has been increasingly prescribed, being cheap and readily available. However, concerns have been raised about the long term effects of giving prepubescent children a hormone supplement. It’s been given as a quick fix, when the issues stem usually from overuse of technology and inconsistent sleeping patterns. While there are developmental disorders, such as autism that prevent the production of melatonin, most children’s sleep issues can be solved through simply controlling technology use before bed, and encouraging a healthy sleep schedule.
Melatonin Promoting healthy Sleep
The effects of using it is quite well documented, and have been extensively researched. A meta analysis”The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature“ looked at a wide range of studies and trials on the effects of melatonin. It had a range of criteria, such as quality control groups, measurable standards of effect and randomisation to assess the most useful data available. Of the 557 references looked at 35 were selected to be used as quality and relevant data. The conclusion was that, while it needed large trials done, it showed promise in improving insomnia and jet lag with little, to no adverse health events being present and few side effects at all.
Anti-Oxidant Properties of Melatonin
As for the antioxidant properties of melatonin, it’s been said by a 2016 review that it “under promises but over delivers.”. It explains that melatonin functions by both directly detoxifying reacting oxygen and indirectly by stimulating the body’s antioxidant enzymes. It elaborates on all the complex ways that melatonin interacts with the body, affecting nearly every single part of the body, concluding that it is the “linchpin of the highly complex antioxidative defence system”. It goes on to sing its praises as the “regulator of regulators” and the “multitasking agents”.
Melatonin Anecdotal Claims
Date: September 2016
“I’m a doctor (Family Medicine)
and I have both used and recommend Melatonin for helping with sleep problems…
…Melatonin usually gives a good 6hr effect and gets out of the system quite easily. This means that you have much less “hangover” effect in the morning. People who take melatonin describe having a deeper sleep and wake feeling refreshed and re-energised (contrasted with some sleeping tabs that leave you groggy and miserable in the morning)…
…You can use melatonin for insomnia though it is also very useful for shifting and adjusting your body clock when travelling. Taking melatonin in the evening of your new destination combined with getting bright sunlight on your face in the morning helps to quickly reset your natural body clock to the new destination. One word of caution is to check the countries you are travelling to though because it may not be permitted through Customs.
Sorry to ramble on about melatonin. I hope this info helps. I don’t see melatonin as the answer for every case of insomnia though I think it should be more widely used because it is gentle, has very low addictive potential and can be quite effective.“
Again, there does need to be more trials and study with this bodily essential molecule, but at this point it’s uses are pretty undeniable, when used in the correct circumstances, it can be a very useful supplement.
Can you Buy Melatonin Over the Counter in Australia?
Saldy, despite being fairly readily available and cheap in most other countries, the TGA has classified supplemental melatonin as a Schedule 4 Drug in Australia.
This means that, although you’re able to acquire it, you can not buy melatonin over the counter. It can only be done through the prescription of a medical professional.
So your options are either to get a prescription or to get a try to ingest it through a specific diet.
Where to buy Melatonin in Australia?
You can buy melatonin in Australia from a number of online retailers.
Biovea:Provides an easy to intake form of melatonin through their melatonin gummies, which come in different flavours and different dosages.
Melatonin Dosage and Usage
It’s not always advisable to take melatonin for long periods of time, as they may cause issues with immunity and normal hormone release. However, people have been able to take them for months at a time without too many issues.
In terms of the specific Melatonin dosage, it depends on what you’re taking them for and how your body functions.
0.5-5mg:For more common usage, such as treating insomnia, jet lag, blood
pressure or anxiety, a daily low dosage of 5mg or below is usually sufficient.
5-10mg: For treating, endometriosis and for insomnia in blind people.
10+mg: More than 10mg have been used for those using it to help chemotherapy and severe insomnia.
Melatonin is most commonly taken orally in the form of supplements, although other applications are available.