Fact or Fiction: Is Melatonin Natural?

There are many sleep aid, dietary-supplement products from the nutrition section of your local grocery or health food store. Some from big-name-brand, dietary-supplement companies. Can you take for granted that melatonin is therefore natural?

A dictionary definition of natural is “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.”

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin used by our bodies is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. In his television episode, “Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep,” Dr. Oz states,

Melatonin is a hormone. It tells your body that it’s nighttime and it’s time to go to bed. It is not an herb, a vitamin, or a mineral. Hormones are naturally produced by your body as you need them. Which means it is very unlikely that someone has a melatonin deficiency. While a melatonin supplement could be considered natural, in most cases, it doesn’t come from the earth.”1

Using Melatonin is essentially undergoing hormone therapy. Any hormone therapy regiment should be carefully administered by a qualified practitioner so as to not create an imbalance or worse: unwanted side effects, thus potentially doing more harm than good. Melatonin is not a sleep hormone but is a stress hormone. Improper supplementation could trick the body to reduce the natural melatonin hormone it produces and excess amounts from supplementation can stress the body.

Where does Melatonin come from?

Bovine grade melatonin, also known as “natural”, or animal, contains the actual extracts of the pineal gland. Because it comes from animal tissue, this grade of melatonin may be accompanied by viruses or proteins that could cause an antibody response. It is highly recommend that people stay away from it.

The alternative substance used in dietary supplements is synthetic or pharmacy grade melatonin C13H16N2O2, or 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, which is a compound produced in a laboratory from pharmaceutical grade ingredients.2

 

To summarize so far, Melatonin:

  • Is a synthetic hormone used in dietary supplements
  • Is not an herb, vitamin or mineral
  • Does not come from the earth

According to the definition of natural, melatonin, which is “made or caused by humankind”, is not natural.

Is Melatonin Safe to Use?

“The word ‘safe’ is used very freely and loosely with this drug,” (David Kennaway, University of Adelaide)4.

“Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia,” (Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Arizona)4.

Again referring to the television episode, “Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep,” Dr. Oz states that possible side effects from doses of melatonin (2-3 mg or higher) include1:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Next-day grogginess
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Vivid dreams and Nightmares

Additionally,

  • Short-term feelings of depression (Dr. Axe)
  • And impaired sex drive (Dr. Sam Robbins)

Valerian Root: The Natural, Safe & Effective Choice

The Valerian plant (Valeriana officinalis) is native to both Europe and Asia and is now also grown in North America, has long been used medicinally, particularly for sleep -- the ancient Greeks wrote about its power in treating sleeplessness. It is the plant’s root that is cultivated and processed for use in supplements.3

It has a sedative effect and useful in treating insomnia, particularly in helping to reduce the amount of time that it takes to fall asleep. Valerian is regarded as a mild tranquilizer and has been deemed safe by the German Commission E for treating sleep disorders brought on by nervous conditions. Unlike prescription or OTC sleep and anxiety medication, valerian is not habit-forming, nor does it produce a hang-over-like side effect.3

Valerian root has been used for centuries to regulate the nervous system and relieve insomnia, tension, irritability, stress, and anxiety. Valerian is also a natural pain reliever that reduces sensitivity of the nerves.3

Back to our definition of “natural”, valerian root is “existing in or caused by nature.” Valerian root is natural.

It is safe and effective in treating sleep disorders, nervous conditions as well as other important health benefits.

 

NutriRain’s Delta Sleep utilizes fresh valerian root extracted within hours of harvesting. Fresh extract is a superior form of valerian root compared to common dry powders. First, fresh Valerian root is naturally extracted using a proprietary cold percolation process for peak purity and potency (a 4:1 concentration). Second while dry valerian found in most sleep aid dietary supplements will calm nerves, fresh valerian extract provides a broader application of benefits which include effectively supporting improved sleep quality, duration, relaxation and relief from stress and anxiety. Dry valerian found in most dietary supplements will calm nerves. Lastly liquid extracts such as NutriRain’s Delta Sleep, are naturally broken down through the extraction process so as to be more easily, quickly, and fully absorbed and utilized by the body. It can be purchased at www.nutrirain.com .

Sources:

  1. Dr. Oz episode http://www.doctoroz.com/article/melatonin-not-magic-bullet-sleep
  2. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin
  3. Dr. Oz Health Topics : https://www.sharecare.com/health/valerian/what-are-health-benefits-valerian
  4. Huffington Post Wellness Topics: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/melatonin-dosage-and-risks_us_56deff8ce4b03a40567a1e1e

Mark Dayley
Mark Dayley

Author