Although melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, it can also be taken as a dietary supplement. Recently, researchers have discovered that melatonin could be used to help prevent or treat Covid-19.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS Biology, melatonin was associated with an almost 30 percent reduced likelihood of contracting Covid-19.
However, additional studies are required about the over-the-counter supplement, the researchers said.
“It is very important to note these findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” lead researcher Feixiong Cheng of the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute said in a statement.
“Large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19,” he added. “But we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”
Cheng and his team used artificial intelligence to comb through a Covid-19 registry of nearly 27,000 people at the hospital. They found that people who were supplementing with melatonin were nearly 28 percent less likely to test positive for the disease.
The difference is even more significant among people of color.
“Importantly, melatonin usage is associated with a 52 percent reduced likelihood of a positive laboratory test result for SARS-CoV-2 in African Americans,” the study said.
“When we got this result, we were very excited,” Cheng told KIRO 7. “If our findings can help the patients, that’s our goal and mission — and at the Cleveland Clinic as well.”
“I read the article about melatonin and sleep and I was like, ‘I already take melatonin every day!’” Seattle resident Ruth Harvey told KIRO 7. “I said, ‘That’s great, maybe I’m doing the right thing to stay healthy.’ It’s really encouraging.”
When President Trump was treated for Covid-19 he also received melatonin among other things like zinc, vitamin D, famotidine and aspirin.
When asked if people who take melatonin are less susceptible to the virus because they are getting better sleep or because of the supplement itself, Cheng said researchers don’t know the “exact mechanism” yet.
“But more and more data comes out that support our hypothesis,” he told KIRO 7, adding that studies increasingly show melatonin also can help regulate the immune system.
In addition, other studies have shown that melatonin can also help reduce chronic and acute inflammation.
“Melatonin can also help us improve our human body — what we call tolerance. To help us reduce the tissue or organ damage induced by COVID infection,” Cheng said.
A study of thousands of intubated Covid-19 patients done by Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that patients who were given melatonin after getting intubated, showed better outcomes.
Researchers from the University of Toronto found that melatonin can be added to increase the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.
There are currently eight clinical trials underway across the globe to further confirm the benefits of melatonin against Covid-19. If the widely available sleep hormone does prove to help people, it would instantly become the safest, least expensive and most readily accessible medicine to fight the deadly coronavirus.