Melatonin, often referred to as the “sleep hormone”, plays a central role in our circadian rhythm. Discovery and research has led to a better understanding of how our bodies respond to light and darkness and how this knowledge can be used to treat various health problems.

The discovery of melatonin

Melatonin was first discovered in 1958 by dermatologist Aaron B. Lerner and his colleagues at Yale University. Their research aimed to extract substances from the pineal gland that could influence skin whitening. Instead, they discovered a hormone that can influence the activity of melanophores, which ultimately led to the discovery.

Dosage forms and dosage

Melatonin is available in various dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids and even lozenges. The dosage can vary greatly depending on the purpose of the intake and individual response. For sleep disorders, doses between 0.5 mg and 5 mg are often recommended and should be taken approximately one hour before bedtime. However, it is always advisable to start with a low dose and observe the effect before increasing the dose.

Indications for melatonin

Sleep disorders

It is best known for its ability to regulate sleep. It is often used to treat insomnia and to relieve jet lag. It can help to shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Melatonin is also used to treat SAD, a form of depression that occurs during the winter months when natural sunlight decreases.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Research has shown that it has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it useful for the treatment and prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

Food supplements and medicinal plants

To support the effect of melatonin, certain dietary supplements such as magnesium or vitamin B6 can be helpful. These substances support the body’s own production. Medicinal plants such as valerian or hops are often used in combination to enhance its sleep-promoting effect.

Melatonin in food

Melatonin occurs naturally in some foods, particularly cherries, nuts, oats and bananas. These foods can help to naturally increase melatonin levels in the body.

Possible side effects

Despite its many benefits, melatonin can also have side effects. Some of the most common include headaches, dizziness, daytime sleepiness and brief depressive episodes. It is important that people taking it are aware of these possible side effects and seek medical advice if necessary.

Melatonin in naturopathy

In naturopathy, melatonin is used not only as a sleep aid, but also to treat conditions related to the circadian rhythm, such as certain forms of depression and seasonal affective disorder. Its ability to support and regulate the natural sleep-wake rhythm makes it a valuable tool in naturopathy.


Melatonin is a versatile hormone that can help not only to improve sleep quality but also to treat various health conditions. Although it is available in many forms and is generally safe to use, it should always be taken in consultation with a healthcare professional to ensure optimal and safe use. Natural sources of melatonin as well as complementary medicinal plants and supplements can also be used to support the body holistically.

Published on: 14. April 2024


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