Contrary to popular belief, it is not addictive. And Melatonin does not create dependency. If you find yourself needing melatonin to sleep, consider the following. Melatonin does not utilize a negative feedback loop in the body. 

What’s a negative feedback loop? The best example is Thyroid hormone. Your body will detect if thyroid hormone is low and start the process of making more. This is NOT how melatonin is made in the body. So, if you take thyroid hormone, or yet another example is testosterone and your body detect that the hormone is in your body, your body will not make as much thyroid or testosterone hormone because it is artificially raised in your system. 

Now a little about melatonin. It is a hormone that is released in the brain and raises at night to aid in our circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle in which we live our lives, raise in the morning, work/play throughout the day and rest and sleep at night). Melatonin is produced “upstream” from our old friend Serotonin believe it or not. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is needed for SO MANY BRAIN FUNCTIONS, primarily mood modulation and keeping us “in check.” Serotonin come upstream from tryptophan – an amino acid found in foods like turkey. 

Tryptophan – Serotonin – Melatonin. Going down this line to produce melatonin takes intricate biochemical reactions between each of these steps.  One of the biochemical steps needed is methylation. Methylation is a chemical reaction in the body that activates neurotransmitters, hormones, proteins, etc. Or it is also used to make things more water soluble to be able to poop, pee or sweat the waste out when the body is done with performing the functions. Along these pathways you can have single nucleotide polymorphisms (holy big words). Or what are called soft genetic mutations. These SNPs will hinder methylation and therefore hinder production of melatonin! 

So needless to say, at HML we like to get down to the root cause of things and see first and foremost, are you producing it? And if not, is methylation one problem as to why? There is more to producing melatonin, but this is one topic that is not talked about, how it is produced is indeed not a negative feedback, requires certain nutrients, existing neurotransmitters in the body, and biochemical reactions to produce it. 

Lastly, to note… Melatonin is used for much more than sleep. It is a powerful antioxidant. Increases T-cell production (white blood cells needed to maintain immunity). Decreases estrogen production (when too high). And it is oncostatc (decreases linoleic acid uptake, inhibits telomerase) which is needed when up against something like cancer. Ask your Doctor before starting melatonin, but first consider testing for your levels. Consider why is it low to begin with? And if you decide to supplement it, don’t be fearful of “always needing it to sleep.” And if you do, do your research on the long-term side effects of melatonin supplementation.