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This Supplement May Help With Fibromyalgia

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Melatonin may help with fibromyalgia, but not in the way some people assume. Using melatonin for fibromyalgia may reduce pain and improve sleep. However, the supplemental hormone must be used with caution in certain circumstances.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in all animals and humans which helps control the circadian rhythms involved in the daily wakeful and sleep cycles. Melatonin receptors control many biological functions, it is a powerful antioxidant, and it helps to protect DNA.

In animals, melatonin controls the sense of “season,” and thus directs biological activity such as growing a winter coat and seasonal mating.

In humans, melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the center of the brain. It controls the sleep-wake cycle.

Infants regulate their melatonin levels when they are three months old, which is why newborns have their “days and nights mixed up.”

In teens, melatonin is released later at night than in adults, which is why teens, when allowed, stay up late at night and sleep later during the morning.

Melatonin supplements can help some people fall asleep easier, and is used for people with jet lag or work the night shift to develop new circadian rhythms when combined with light therapy. Rather than working as a sedative, melatonin affects the biological sense of time.

People who work and live in spaces with ultraviolet light may have more difficulty sleeping than people who work and live in spaces with either incandescent or natural light.

Melatonin supplements may help to induce sleepiness in light-sensitive people, such as those with fibromyalgia.

Melatonin has been found clinically to prevent migraines, cluster headaches, and seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression due to a lack of sunlight. It has also been proven to have a positive effect on irritable bowel syndrome.

Dosages typically range between 0.3 and 5 mg per day.

Cautions while using melatonin

Melatonin does have mild side effects, such as drowsiness, a cooler body temperature, lucid dreams, and being groggy upon awakening. Caution should be used when operating machinery or driving a car.

Melatonin levels are very often low in fibromyalgia patients. Some antidepressants can lower melatonin levels even further. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft and Prozac deplete melatonin, making sleep even more difficult.

Anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Librium, also reduce the production of melatonin.

Melatonin has not been proven to be safe for pregnant or nursing women.

Because melatonin does influence sexual cycles, it may interfere with female ovulation and the ability to become pregnant.

Melatonin may raise the blood pressure slightly, so patients with high blood pressure may wish to avoid melatonin.

Children should not take melatonin, since doing so may interfere with normal adolescent development.

Melatonin can raise blood sugar levels, so diabetics should monitor their insulin levels regularly if they take melatonin.

Melatonin can interfere with anti-seizure medications.

Melatonin should not be taken with other sleeping aids, such as Ambien or Ativan.

In addition, melatonin should not be taken with birth control pills, because birth control pills increase melatonin levels.

Caffeine may interfere with melatonin supplements since caffeine lowers melatonin levels.

Diabetics, people with immune system disorders, and people with blood clotting disorders should use caution before taking melatonin if they are taking prescription medication for these conditions.

Combining melatonin with herbs

Melatonin may also interfere with certain herbs. Since melatonin has properties that decrease blood clotting time, it should not be used with the following herbs:

Herbs That Should Not Be Taken With Melatonin 
White willow bark
Red clover
Panax ginseng
Ginkgo biloba
Ginger root

Herbalists will quickly recognize these herbs as classic detox herbs, some of which are highly recommended for fibromyalgia. Combining melatonin with these herbs can increase bleeding and blood clotting times.

In addition, the following sedative herbs should not be used in combination with melatonin:

St. John's wort
Yerba mansa

Melatonin and Fibromyalgia

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology reported a study showing that melatonin reduced pain and improved sleep in fibromyalgia patients.

Wikner, et al. in 1998 stated that lowered melatonin levels at night in fibromyalgia patients may be the reason they have such difficulty with insomnia.

Mahdi, et al, concurred in a similar study performed in 2011. This team of scientists believes that the sleep-wake cycle may have an impact on the development and diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

A small study conducted in 2000 with twenty- one fibromyalgia patients demonstrated that melatonin had a positive effect on tender point counts and sleep quality. However, the study was limited in scope, so more study was recommended.

There is some clinical evidence that melatonin is effective in treating insomnia, but the studies are not conclusive enough to make a definitive statement, especially for fibromyalgia patients.

Melatonin seems to have no effect on depression other than seasonal affective disorder, in fact, older medical studies state that melatonin can actually make depression worse (Dohlburg, et al., 1998; Leibeluft, et al. 1997).


WebMD.com, “Herbs and Supplements for Fibromyalgia”

WebMD.com, “What is Melatonin”

National Fibromyalgia Association.org, “Melatonin: Helpful or Harmful?”

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