melatonin safety (fwd)

Steve Gill skg at
Sat Oct 21 16:50:01 EST 1995

stephan at (Stephan Anagnostaras) wrote:

>In article <Pine.3.89.9510110801.D21901-0100000 at>,
>rcb1 at LEX.LCCC.EDU (Ron Blue) wrote:

>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> Date: 10 Oct 1995 18:03:22 -0700
>> From: Mark A. McWilliams <mmcwilli at USIBR01.USI.EDU>
>> To: ageing at
>> Subject: melatonin safety
>> To whom it may concern,
>>      I was looking for someone to correspond to about questions I had 
>> about melatonin.   The questions I had are: How is melatonin supplements  
>> produced?  I've been reading various books and articles on melatonin and 
>> I've discovered something very shocking.  Melatonin is a by-product of 
>> the amino acid tryptophan, right!   The supplement tryptophan has been 
>> banned do to bad side effects produced by making synthetic tryptophan.  
>> What if they made melatonin out of synthetically produced tryptophan?  
>> Would that pose a health hazard?  Just wondering.
>> Please send response to:mmcwilli at  

>There isn't a good reason to take melatonin and it certainly could pose a
>safety hazard. Tryptophan is also the precursor to serotonin (which is
>the precursor for melatonin), so this was probably of greater concern
>when it was banned.

>However, melatonin readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and is
>naturally secreted by the pineal body into the circulating bloodstream
>in a circadian (and seasonal) fashion.  Adding melatonin would at least
>screw up the rhythmicity of this signal (which is a dark signal). This
>signal is used to regulate a variety of hormones, including 
>prolactin and GnRH (which regulates LH and FSH the primary reproductive
>hormones in females).  Moreover, melatonin affects the effectiveness
>of estradiol.  Finally, there are melatonin binding sites all over the
>brain (even lots of them in the hippocampus) which we have no idea what
>they do. So why take melatonin? No good reason, unless you have
>nothing better to do.

That can be said for just about any psychoactive material. They all
bind all over the place. I guess downregulation is a possibility, but
if it (melatonin) is taken infrequently, or in small doses I doubt it
can be harmful, especially if it is taken near bedtime (as directed).
Note that I'm not a proponent py any means, but many of the studies
I've looked at seem to indicate that it can be quite useful for
resetting circadian rhythms in cases of "jet lag", etc. However, I
agree that it is overpromoted and certainly should be researched
thoroughly before one starts a regimen.....

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