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Melatonin available as supplement

Christopher Kashinath Patil cpatil at leland.Stanford.EDU
Fri Feb 10 14:55:37 EST 1995

In article <cordell-0802951427130001 at mac-p45-12.nexagen.com>,
Bruce R Cordell <cordell at shaman.nexagen.com> wrote:
>A question pops into my head upon reading what seems to indicate extreme
>antioxidant capibilities of Melatonin: is melatonin available as a dietary
>supplement, and if not, what would it take produce such a supplement?

Melatonin (M) is available at pharmacies and health food stores (at least in
Northern California) in the form of 0.3 mg pills at a cost of about $0.10 
per pill. 

The high-affinity melatonin receptor was just cloned and characterized by
a group at Harvard, and they have shown that the Kd of M's association with
its receptor is of the order 10^-9 M, so that nanomolar serum concentrations
should saturate the receptors. I have no idea about the pharmacokinetics of
orally administered M, so I have no clue what physiologically relevant doses
might be. 

Other results, published in the Brazilian Journal of something (and I think
just posted to this group recently), suggest that M might exert some
cellular effects by crossing membranes directly, in which case the kinetics
of receptor binding become less relevant to the calculation of effective

The reason why I'm thinking about this lately is that I personally just started
taking one pill each night (as a sleep aid and cure for mild seasonal affective
disorder) consistently for the past month. In this poorly controlled experi-
ment, in which the placebo effect probably masks all other effects :-) I
have observed:

- better sleep
- more immediate onset of sleep
- slightly more difficulty getting up in the morning
- slightly less depression at the prospect of a gray day

If anyone is interested, I can find the address of the company that produces
my melatonin and forward it to them. Just let me know.

Chris Patil				Stanford University
cpatil at leland.stanford.edu		Department of Biological Sciences
"That in our day such giant shadows are cast by such pygmies only shows
how late in the day it has become." -- Chargaff, referring to Watson & Crick

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