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This Common Supplement Used For Sleep May Weaken COVID Symptoms, Doctor Says

The pill you're taking to help you get some shut-eye may also be helping you combat the novel coronavirus.
woman taking melatonin

When you're aiming to get quality sleep, you may take a melatonin pill about 30 minutes before letting your head hit the pillow. But, have you also considered popping melatonin in an attempt to lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms?

Probably not, right? As it turns out, the common supplement used to help many fall asleep at night can block the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while also increasing the number of anti-inflammatory cytokines. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now).

Why is this important? Let's start from the beginning. When someone contracts the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they then become infected with the COVID-19 syndrome. Some people either experience mild symptoms, while others suffer from ones that are much more severe. Brittany Busse, MD, associate medical director at WorkCare, explains that the thing causing some people to experience adverse complications with COVID-19 is an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Perhaps you've heard of the cytokine storm, which is the term for an acute, sudden increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, otherwise described as a hyperactive immune response. This process can stoke inflammation and can cause many complications to arise throughout the body—namely in the lungs.

So, not only does melatonin help to block the production of these harmful cytokines, but it also helps to increase the anti-inflammatory ones, which are essential for proper immune function. In addition, Busse says that melatonin also helps to inhibit the expression of certain enzymes produced by harmful compounds that form after COVID-19 infiltrates the inner cellular lining of blood vessels, which include the arteries, veins, and capillaries.

"Finally, melatonin can be protective at preventing cell death and apoptosis," says Busse. "Apoptosis of lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 leads to fluid accumulation in the lungs, inflammation, and severe respiratory distress. Melatonin could potentially be protective against this process."

Several studies have shown that melatonin administration can benefit newborns born with Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), a condition that can lead to respiratory distress and even organ failure. Busse says melatonin could have a similar effect in those suffering from COVID-19.

"There were a few studies in Nov 2020 showing that Melatonin is associated with improved outcomes in severe COVID-19," she says.

Busse suggests taking melatonin at night with vitamin B6, as the two could act synergistically together since both have the ability to block the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Not to mention, melatonin's main function can also help someone combat the virus.

"Sleep itself has an anti-inflammatory and restorative capacity that can be protective against viral infections and inflammation," says Busse.

If you're debating on whether or not to take melatonin at night, just know that it can't hurt—unless instructed by your doctor otherwise. If you have COVID-19, you may want to consider taking it until symptoms improve or go away.

For more, be sure to check out It's Possible to Contract COVID Via Food and Drink If You Have This Condition, Study Says.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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