I am on over-the-counter sleeping aids but they don’t seem to help me much. I am reluctant to try those prescription sleeping pills because I am tired of hearing of their side effects and I never want to mess around with it. I am thinking of using melatonin supplements because I heard they are quite effective. Since they are natural, I’m wondering if sleeping aids have interactions with melatonin.
A lot of products showcasing natural ingredients is now pervading the market today. Mineral make up, herbal shampoos, organic oils, natural food supplements… even natural sleeping aids, like tart cherry extracts. But the most commonly known natural sleeping aid today is a human hormone: Melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland, an endocrine gland located at the center of our brain. Melatonin is actually a growth hormone. Synthetic versions of this hormone are now gaining popularity for being an immune system booster, an antioxidant and a sleeping aid. It is sometimes used in conjunction with some drugs to treat cancer.
With the hormone’s wide variety of functions, it is not unusual that interactions with melatonin and other drugs would occur when taken together. That is why it is important that you inform your doctor if you are planning to take melatonin supplements. Just like any other drug, drug interactions with melatonin may either be a good thing or harmful to the body. The other consideration you have to ask yourself is whether you can overdose on melatonin.
Drug interactions with melatonin are being studied but no definite results have come up yet. But possibilities should not be ruled out. It has been found that fluoxetine, an antidepressant, causes a depletion of melatonin in people so it is possible that taking melatonin supplements while on fluoxetine would render the melatonin ineffective.
Melatonin has also been found to counteract the effects of blood-lowering medications like clonidine. Other blood pressure drugs like calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers have been found to reduce melatonin levels in the body. However, other studies show that melatonin, when used alone, decreases blood pressure.
Melatonin should also not be taken with the following drugs: anesthetics like barbiturates, antihistamines and other sleep drugs and pain relievers because melatonin increases their sedative effects; anticoagulants because it can increase bleeding tendencies; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce melatonin levels in the blood; and immunosuppressant drugs will be ineffective because melatonin itself is an immune booster.
Substances that may also have possible interactions with melatonin are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol because they will counteract the effects of melatonin, while cocaine and amphetamine may increase melatonin levels.
But some drug interactions with melatonin are favorable. It has been found that melatonin, when used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs like interleukin and tamoxifen, may increase survival rates of cancer patients.
A recent study was also conducted among psychotic patients taking antipsychotic medications. Patients exhibiting tardive dyskinesia, a side effect of antipsychotics characterized by tongue thrusting, constant chewing motions, and other mouth movements, were given melatonin supplements. Patients who were given melatonin supplements showed a marked reduction of mouth movements than those who did not take the supplements.
So, it is really important that you talk with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements to avoid any untoward effects especially if you are on medications that have been mentioned above