The hormone Melatonin is an over the counter sleep aid which regulates the sleep cycle. Could Melatonin help make people more resilient to the coronavirus?
Feixiong Cheng, a data analyst at the Cleveland Clinic and his team hoped to find potential alternatives for reusing drugs that were already available to protect people from the Covid-19 or to mitigate the course of an infection. They analyzed the data of 26,779 people (of whom 8,274 had tested positive for Covid-19). His lab used artifical intelligence to search for hidden clues in the structure of the virus to predict how it invaded human cells and what might stop it. Could the virus potentially be blocked by melatonin?
People who took small amounts of melatonin daily were 28 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19, according to the research team. This data is encouraging because it shows that melatonin may have the potential to prvent people from getting sick in the first place by limiting the body's overreaction to the virus. They also noted that, in addition to melatonin's well-known effects on sleep, it plays a part in calibrating the immune system.
"It's protective effect against the virus infection is not that it promotes the host's defense system. Rather, it increases their tolerance to the virus," explains Cheng. "This increased tolerance to the virus reduces the damage to tissues and organs. This enables the host to survive long enough to develop an adaptive immune response, in particular the required antibody."
However, the researchers could not find any evidence that the melatonin made the course of a Covid-19 infection less bad-although they are investigating this in a number of clinical studies at the Cleveland Clinic.
In October 2020, a study at Columbia University found that intubated patients had better rates of survival if they received melatonin. When former President Donald Trump was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for Covid-19 treatment, his doctors prescribed-in addition to a plethora of other experimental therapies-melatonin.
Previous studies on melatonin suggest that it had benefits with other types of respiratory viruses that are similar to the coronavirus. It helps reduce oxidative stree and inflammation and regulate the immune system. The latter could be particularly helpful for Covid-19 patients.
If melatonin actually proves to help people, it would be the cheapest and most readily accessible medicine to counter Covid-19. Melatonin is widely available in Canada and the United States as an over-the-counter dietary supplement. That would be a major breakthrough.
It is also important that the cost of melatonin is much lower than that of other drugs that are being tested as part of the ongoing Covid-19 studies.
The virus is capable of altering the delicate process within our nervous system, in many case in unpredictable ways, sometimes creating long-term symptoms. Better appreciating the ties between immunity and the nervous system could be central to understanding Covid-19 and to preventing it.
The dosages recommended by the researchers is between 2.5 and 10 milligrams.
Finally, the central function of sleep is maintaining proper channels of cellular communication in the brain. Sleep is essentially a sort of anti-inflammatory cleansing process; it removes waste products that accumulate during a busy day. With the help of melatonin we may be lessen the effects of Covid-19.