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About Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural compound secreted into the blood by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone is also known as the “hormone of darkness” because it brain makes serotonin during the day and turns it to melatonin when the lights go down. Melatonin is responsible for normal sleep cycles. Many people suffering from insomnia use melatonin-based health supplements for sleep induction.

How does melatonin work?

By the wisdom of the body, melatonin production starts in the evening, or in the dark. The brain sends signals to the body to prepare for sleep. Bright lights are slowing down the production of the melatonin and the body awakens. Strong light may even turn of the natural production of melatonin completely. Normally, a body produces around 0.1mg of melatonin daily. In patients suffering from insomnia, these levels are much lower. Melatonin supplements are often prescribed to travelers to tickle jet lag, persons working in shifts and sleep problems associated with many other conditions like attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and also some developmental disorders like autism, cerebral palsy, etc.

Symptoms of melatonin overdose

Melatonin is a natural substance, but it is possible to overdose on it. Taking too much melatonin isn’t dangerous in itself, but it may cause serious side effects and health problems. Moreover, the timed release of melatonin may cause drug interactions that may endanger individual’s health and even cause death in some rare cases. The most common symptoms of melatonin overdose are: excessive drowsiness, tremor or shakiness, confusion and disorientation, seizures, headaches, weakness, problems with liver, problems with eyes, psychotic behaviors, and depression. Overdose in children may cause severe delay in the puberty development.

Melatonin overdose treatment

It is important to consult a doctor as soon as the first signs of the overdose come forward. The first step in treatment is to discontinue the use of melatonin supplement. This will gradually reduce the level of the hormone in the body. The next step is to treat the symptoms of the overdose. Doctors will usually prescribe the medication that can control the symptoms.

Choosing the right supplement

There is no strict standard in producing melatonin supplements. The best advice would be to purchase the supplements from the reliable sources. Furthermore, one should strictly follow the instructions given by the general practitioner. It is important to understand that melatonin interacts with the other medicines and one should take severe precautions before using melatonin supplements with other medicine. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid melatonin supplements at any cost, because it may cause birth defects in the infant.

Recommended dose is somewhat between 0.3 and 5mg. The overdose occurs when one takes 20 - 50 mg of melatonin supplement.

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