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Melatonin is a hormone found in animals, plants, and microbes.[1][2][3] In animals, levels of melatonin have a daily cycle. It drives the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.[4]

Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland which is outside of the blood–brain barrier. It acts as an hormone, and is released into the blood.[5]

Melatonin acts on melatonin receptors.[6] It also acts directly because it is a powerful antioxidant,[7] which protects DNA.[8]

Melatonin supplements for humans have been given.[9] Melatonin is categorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a dietary supplement, not a drug.[10] A prescription-only, timed release melatonin product for people aged 55 and over was approved for use by the European Medicines Agency in 2007, despite having shown only small effects,[11] and in Australia in 2009.[12]


  1. "Melatonin". Sleepdex. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  2. Caniato R. et al (2003). "Melatonin in plants". Adv. Exp. Med. Biol.. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 527: 593–7. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-0135-0_68 . ISBN 978-0-306-47755-3 . PMID 15206778 .
  3. Paredes S.D. et al (2009). "Phytomelatonin: a review". J. Exp. Bot. 60 (1): 57–69. doi:10.1093/jxb/ern284 . PMID 19033551 .
  4. Altun A. & Ugur-Altun B. (2007). "Melatonin: therapeutic and clinical utilization". Int. J. Clin. Pract. 61 (5): 835–45. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2006.01191.x . PMID 17298593 .
  5. Kaur C. & Ling E.A. (2008). "Antioxidants and neuroprotection in the adult and developing central nervous system". Curr. Med. Chem. 15 (29): 3068–80. doi:10.2174/092986708786848640 . PMID 19075654 .
  6. Boutin J.A. et al (2005). "Molecular tools to study melatonin pathways and actions". Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 26 (8): 412–9. doi:10.1016/ . PMID 15992934 .
  7. Hardeland R (2005). "Antioxidative protection by melatonin: multiplicity of mechanisms from radical detoxification to radical avoidance". Endocrine 27 (2): 119–30. doi:10.1385/ENDO:27:2:119 . PMID 16217125 .
  8. Reiter R.J. et al; Acuña-Castroviejo; Tan; Burkhardt (2001). "Free radical-mediated molecular damage. Mechanisms for the protective actions of melatonin in the central nervous system". Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 939: 200–15. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb03627.x . PMID 11462772 .
  9. Ratzburg C (Undated). "Melatonin: the myths and facts". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  10. Buscemi N. et al (2004). "Melatonin for treatment of sleep disorders". Evidence Report/Technology Assessment #108. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  11. European Medicines Agency. "Circadin, melatonin". European Public Assessment Report (EPAR). European Medicines Agency. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  12. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). "Australian Public Assessment Report for Melatonin". Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government. Retrieved 5 June 2013.