A Surprising Ally in the Treatment of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has doctors and researchers worldwide scrambling for effective treatments.
Unfortunately, a vaccine is likely at least a year away.
In the meantime, the search is on for therapeutics (i.e. medications and therapies that will decrease the severity of symptoms).
Recently, attention has focused on what might seem like an unlikely candidate when it comes to therapeutics. In fact, it’s a hormone your body produces naturally to promote sleep. Three million Americans currently take it as a daily supplement, and it has virtually no adverse side effects.
We’re talking about melatonin.
Melatonin is best known for the way it regulates your body clock (otherwise known as your circadian rhythm). Your pineal gland increases its production of melatonin when it gets dark in preparation for sleep, and it produces less melatonin when there’s light.
Millions of people worldwide already take melatonin as a safe, non-narcotic sleep aid to treat sleep disorders and to promote better quality sleep. But melatonin has also been successfully used to treat a variety of other conditions, such as:
- Respiratory disease
- Viral infections
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, melatonin had already been identified as a useful treatment for coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS. As a result, researchers were hopeful it could also be helpful in treating the symptoms of COVID-19.
Initial results using melatonin in the treatment of COVID-19 have been encouraging. However, medical experts stress that none of the currently accepted treatments for COVID-19 are cures. If you contract COVID-19, doctors can only do their best to limit the damage while your immune system fights off the virus.
So how can melatonin support your immune system’s fight against viruses like COVID-19?
- Melatonin promotes proper rest.
- Melatonin regulates your inflammation response.
- Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant.
Your immune system is most effective when you are well rested. And getting enough sleep has long been recognized as being critical to optimal health.
Your body naturally produces more melatonin in the evening so you can fall asleep more easily. However, as a person gets older, the pineal gland produces less and less of this important hormone. By their 70’s, most people will only produce 25% as much melatonin at night as they did in their 20’s.
Modern day exposure to artificial light also disrupts melatonin secretion. The result is a reduction in melatonin production at night when your body should increase production.
Meanwhile, sleep is the time when your body repairs damage. It’s also when your immune system recharges itself. So if your melatonin levels are low, taking a melatonin supplement at night can help promote better rest…and a stronger immune system.
One way your immune system responds to viral infections is by promoting inflammation. Unfortunately, too much inflammation can damage critical systems within the body.
Researchers refer to this excess inflammation as a “cytokine storm”. During a cytokine storm, the immune system overproduces pro-inflammatory cells in response to the virus. This is the main cause of respiratory failure from coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19.
Melatonin appears to maintain the proper balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, thereby helping to properly regulate the body’s immune response. It also inhibits the activity of other inflammation-promoting immune system cells.
Another way viruses can damage cells is by the excess creation of free radicals. These reactive molecules are beneficial in low concentrations, but they cause cell damage at higher levels.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, help to eliminate free radicals. As an antioxidant, melatonin can easily cross cell membranes to reach sites where free radicals need to be eliminated, thereby protecting cells from damage.
A treatment…not a cure
To be clear: melatonin is NOT a “silver bullet” for treatment of COVID-19. And it most certainly isn’t a cure.
However, early results suggest that melatonin could be part of an effective treatment plan for COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.
A bonus is that melatonin is naturally occurring in the human body, is easily absorbed through the digestive tract, and has no significant side effects.
Remember, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath, cough) or you think you’ve been exposed:
- Contact your doctor before taking any medication or supplements (including melatonin).
- Get tested for COVID-19.
- Isolate yourself at home, wear a mask, and limit contact with family members.
Want to know if your body is producing enough melatonin? We can test your levels, and recommend treatment if you’re deficient. Call Renew Youth at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to arrange your free 30-minute consultation.