- A November study points to melatonin usage for contributing to a nearly 30% lower risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.
- Study findings also noted that certain groups of people such as African-Americans and people with diabetes showed lower chances of getting a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- Researchers are now interested to find an FDA-approved drug they can “repurpose” for a COVID-19 treatment.
As scientists continue to discover ways to treat the novel coronavirus, a new study in November made a shocking and promising discovery about a treatment that could be procured from your own pharmacy- the sleep aid melatonin.
Published in the journal PLOS Biology, an assessment of patients’ health records from Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry showed melatonin to be associated with an almost 30 percent lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after risk factors like age, race, history and comorbidities were taken into account. People in certain groups were also observed to record higher readings: 52% lowered risks among African-Americans and a 48% lowered chances of testing positive among diabetics.
To find whether a similarity between COVID-19 and other diseases exists, the researchers measured the accessibility between host genes and proteins and those that are related with 64 other diseases under several categories including malignant cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, and pulmonary diseases.
Overall, outcomes revealed that proteins connected with autoimmune, pulmonary, and neurological diseases had the biggest proximity to SARS-CoV-2 genes and protein. Results suggested that a drug that is already being used to treat those conditions may also be used to treat COVID-19.
The Relationship between Melatonin and Meditation
Study co-author Feixiong Cheng, PhD of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, tells Verywell that the study was undertaken because of the lack of FDA-approved effective medications for patients with early COVID-19. “Traditional de novo drug discovery is costly and we have to wait a long time—10 to 15 years,” he says.
This is the reason why his team of researchers would want to “repurpose” a medication that’s already available in the market. “Drug repurposing will significantly reduce cost and time for the emerging COVID-19 pandemic compared to traditional drug discovery approaches,” he adds.
Of the 34 drugs considered for possible reuse, melatonin emerged to be the top contender. This is great news especially if it is proven by science to be effective against COVID-19, because it is a readily available over-the-counter treatment. But talk to your doctor first before adding melatonin supplements into your routine.
The role of melatonin in the body
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body in response to darkness that also regulates the sleep-wake cycle, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
As a dietary supplement, it is often used in the treatment of jet lag, some sleep disorders in children, anxiety before and after surgery, and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD).
Although melatonin usage often focuses on treating sleep and anxiety issues, it may play other roles in the body, however, those are still being studied, says the NCCIH.
How Melatonin Protect Against COVID-19
Cheng explains that melatonin may effectively shield the body from SARS-CoV-2 by boosting the body’s tolerance to the virus to “allow the host to survive sufficiently long to develop an adaptive immune response”.
When this happens, Cheng says your body may eventually be able to single out and eliminate the virus from your body.
But this isn’t definite yet, says Cheng. “There are many possible mechanisms of melatonin in treating COVID-19, and our group is actively investigating it using cell-based and pre-clinical models.”
So, does melatonin really work or it’s just hype?
As a whole, the effectiveness of melatonin on the treatment of early Covid has yet to be tested by randomized controlled trials. Currently, there are seven ongoing trials attempting to discover the potential of using melatonin in COVID-19 patients, says Cheng.
“Importantly, the cost of melatonin is much lower than other drugs under ongoing COVID-19 trials, which will be great to fight the pandemic by accessibility to the general population.”
Source: Very Well Health