Melatonin is an important hormone in the human body. It plays multiple important roles in maintaining various body functions – from eye health, sleep, mood, etc.
Did you know that the melatonin also plays a certain role in maintaining our thyroid health?
It is true – melatonin does help with keeping our thyroids healthy.
Read on to find out the impact of melatonin on our general health and its impact on our thyroid gland and thyroid hormones.
A brief explanation of melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone, produced by the pineal gland[i] in the brain.
It takes part in many body functions, but the most important one, and with that, the most scientifically explored one, is its role in maintaining control over the circadian (daily) rhythms.[ii]
By controlling your circadian (daily) rhythm, melatonin is managing your natural sleep cycle. Melatonin is produced in the evening, as a way of the brain to prepare our bodies for sleep.
The pineal gland suppresses the release of melatonin in the morning, in order to prepare our bodies for waking up, after we have had our quality sleep.
Melatonin also takes part in managing your immune system functions, cortisol levels, and blood pressure. In addition, it acts as a powerful antioxidant in the human body. It is able to reduce the number of free radicals and the potential damage that they are able to do.
What is there to know about melatonin supplements?
Apart from being produced naturally in the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin is also found in a variety of foods. Some of the most popular melatonin-rich foods include bananas, barley, tomatoes, rice, sweet corn, etc. which is why these foods have been commonly recommended to be consumed in the evening by those who are experiencing troubles falling and staying asleep.[iii]
Melatonin supplements are usually recommended to anyone who struggles with insomnia.
According to a research published in the Indian Journal of Palliative Care, the use of melatonin supplements around 2 hours before sleep, has helped over 50 people struggling with insomnia to fall asleep faster and have a better sleep quality.[vii]
There are a variety of melatonin supplements for you to choose from, and all of them come in the form of pills and capsules. The usual recommended dose of melatonin supplements is around 0.5-10 mg a day, as it is recommended to start off by using a smaller dose and increase the dose only if there is a need for it.
Melatonin supplements are recommended to be taken around 30 minutes before sleep if used to treat insomnia. It is also best to follow the doctor’s instructions regarding the use and dosage rules.
Melatonin supplements are considered safe to use. According to the Clinical Drug Investigation, melatonin is not addictive when taken both short- and long-term.[viii]
The importance of melatonin for thyroid health
It should not come as a surprise that melatonin has a certain impact on our thyroid health as well. This powerful hormone is involved in numerous important body functions, as we learned so far.
There are various ways that melatonin influences our thyroid health.
For starters, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain as we have mentioned before. The pineal gland also produces a valuable hormone known as thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), and TRH has a direct influence upon the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
As you likely know, TSH stimulates the thyroid hormone to produce and secrete its two thyroid hormones – T3 and T4.
Melatonin also has a certain impact on the production of TSH. Melatonin has been proven to monitor and control the production of TSH as well, which means that any melatonin deficiency will have a negative impact on our thyroid production, according to the study cited below.[ix]
Any issue that would harm the pineal gland in the brain, and thus the decreased melatonin production, is expected to cause issues linked to the thyroid hormone production as well.
On the other hand, there are these specialized C-cells found in the thyroid gland. These cells have been suggested to be able to produce melatonin, under the control of the TSH.
Essentially, thyroid hormones and melatonin balance themselves out, so both of their levels are healthy and satisfactory. According to a study published in 2005, perimenopausal and menopausal women who have previously experienced thyroid issues took 3 mg daily of melatonin supplements. After the treatment period and review, they have successfully enhanced their thyroid function by increasing their thyroid hormone levels.[x]
We also mentioned melatonin is a powerful antioxidant at the beginning of this article.
As you may know, antioxidants remove potentially damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) from our cells and body organs.
When the reactive oxygen species (ROS) are present in excessive amounts, all of our tissues and body organs are at the risk of being damaged by these same species. The same goes for melatonin, being a powerful antioxidant as it is.
It is known to bind with the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and make them less harmful.[xi][xii] With that, melatonin directly reduces the risk of oxidative damage and its severity.
This is very important as we all know how sensitive our thyroid gland is to potential oxidative damage. A study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that hypothyroidism could be a product of excessive oxidative damage, but also, that it can be easily treated with the use of antioxidants, such as melatonin.[xiii]
Should patients with thyroid issues use melatonin supplements?
Taking into consideration everything that we have discussed so far, melatonin supplements may be recommended for patients battling thyroid issues, along with ongoing research.
Melatonin supplements are especially recommended for patients who are struggling with hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland fails to produce the necessary amounts of thyroid hormones, both T3 and T4.
Along with the usual traditional treatment for hypothyroidism, which is the use of levothyroxine, the use of melatonin also proves to be quite beneficial. As past research suggests, the use of melatonin, along with levothyroxine, will be able to increase your thyroid hormone levels efficiently, and with that, cause the hypothyroidism symptoms to reduce.
Discuss with your doctor about the possibility of using a proper melatonin supplement. In addition, using a melatonin supplement by patients with hypothyroidism issues has been shown to help reduce their symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to the Endocrine Abstracts. [xiv]
As for hyperthyroidism patients, where the issues happen because of your overactive thyroid gland, the melatonin supplements are only recommended if you are struggling with a melatonin deficiency at the same time as well. Because hyperthyroidism often causes insomnia to develop if there is a melatonin deficiency present as well, this will only cause insomnia to be more worse. However, if there is no melatonin deficiency present at the same time as your thyroid gland is producing more thyroid hormones than needed, taking a melatonin supplement will only worsen your condition.
Since the melatonin will stimulate your thyroid gland to produce more of the thyroid hormones, it will cause your hyperthyroidism symptoms to worsen over time, including your insomnia.
Anyone who is struggling with hyperthyroidism is advised to consult his/her doctor before proceeding to use melatonin supplement of any kind. In addition, he/she is advised towards the limited consummation of the melatonin-rich foods that we mentioned earlier.
Malatonin is an important hormone and antioxidant hat takes part in multiple body functions.
We discussed its importance in with our thyroid health. As we have learned so far – melatonin helps protect our thyroid and makes sure that the required amounts of thyroid hormones are produced each day.
Any decline in melatonin production reflects negatively on the production of thyroid hormone, and vis-a-vis, any decline in thyroid hormones affect melatonin as well. Doctors may recommend melatonin or other thyroid supplements in treatment of thyroid conditions.
[i] Liu, J., Huang, F., & He, H. (2013). Melatonin Effects on Hard Tissues: Bone and Tooth. International Journal of Molecular Sciences,14(5), 10063-10074. doi:10.3390/ijms140510063
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676828/
[ii] R, A. M. (2015). Melatonin, the Hormone of Darkness: From Sleep Promotion to Ebola Treatment. Brain Disorders & Therapy,04(01). doi:10.4172/2168-975x.1000151
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334454/
[iii] Laurence. (2019, March 13). Maximizing Your Melatonin.
[iv] Stefanova, N. A., Zhdankina, A. A., Fursova, A. Z., & Kolosova, N. G. (2013). Potential of melatonin for the prevention of age-related macular degeneration: Experimental study. Advances in Gerontology,3(4), 302-308. doi:10.1134/s2079057013040073
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24003738
[v] Lewy, A. J., Lefler, B. J., Emens, J. S., & Bauer, V. K. (2006). The circadian basis of winter depression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,103(19), 7414-7419. doi:10.1073/pnas.0602425103
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16648247
[vi] Kandil, T. S., Mousa, A. A., El-Gendy, A. A., & Abbas, A. M. (2010). The potential therapeutic effect of melatonin in gastro-esophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterology,10(1). doi:10.1186/1471-230x-10-7
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20082715
[vii] Kurdi, M., & Muthukalai, S. (2016). The efficacy of oral melatonin in improving sleep in cancer patients with insomnia: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Palliative Care,22(3), 295. doi:10.4103/0973-1075.185039
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973490/
[viii] Andersen, L. P., Gögenur, I., Rosenberg, J., & Reiter, R. J. (2015). The Safety of Melatonin in Humans. Clinical Drug Investigation,36(3), 169-175. doi:10.1007/s40261-015-0368-5
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26692007
[ix] Sakamato S, Nakamura K, Inoue K, Sakai T. (2000). Melatonin stimulates thyroid-stimulating hormone accumulation in the thyrotropes of the rat raps tuberalis. Histochemistry and Cell Biology, 114(3):213-8
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11083464
[x] Bellipanni, G. (2005). Effects of Melatonin in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women: Our Personal Experience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,1057(1), 393-402. doi:10.1196/annals.1356.030
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16399909
[xi] Tabor, V. H., & Tabor, V. H. (2017, February 05). Melatonin: Hashimoto's friend or foe?
Retrieved from https://medium.com/boosted/melatonin-hashimotos-friend-or-foe-c0441ad0cb56
[xii] Reiter, R., Paredes, S., Korkmaz, A., Jou, M., & Tan, D. (2008). Melatonin combats molecular terrorism at the mitochondrial level. Interdisciplinary Toxicology,1(2), 137-149. doi:10.2478/v10102-010-0030-2
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2993480/
[xiii] Chakrabarti, S., Ghosh, S., Banerjee, S., Mukherjee, S., & Chowdhury, S. (2016). Oxidative stress in hypothyroid patients and the role of antioxidant supplementation. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism,20(5), 674. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.190555
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040049/
[xiv] Mansharipova, A., Moldabek, G., & Abylaiuly, Z. (2011, April 01). Melatonin drug use in complex treatment of hypothyroidism manifest.
Retrieved from https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0026/ea0026p394