Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland and sometimes functions as an antioxidant. The main function of this particular hormone is to regulate the function of the body’s biological clock so that the individual can achieve a regular cycle of sleeping and wakefulness. When melatonin levels are out of sync, physicians sometimes administer a dietary supplement to help restore a proper circadian rhythm and treat health issues such as insomnia. However, there are some side effects that may occur during this period of treatment.
As with many types of hormone supplement treatments, melatonin provides benefits that would be difficult to achieve in any other manner. At the same time, the side effects of melatonin can range from mild to severe. For this reason, it is important to only take the dosage prescribed by a physician, and also to report any side effects to the doctor as soon as they appear. This will make it possible for the healthcare professional to adjust the dosage in order to obtain the most benefit while minimizing the occurrence of side effects.
Among the more common melatonin side effects are symptoms that are somewhat like the signs of developing a cold or flu. The patient may experience recurring nausea accompanied by abdominal cramps. Episodes of dizziness may also occur. Headaches are not uncommon with even small doses of melatonin. Usually, a physician is able to prescribe medication that eases these types of effects without interfering with the benefits derived from the hormone supplement.
There is also some incidence of side effects from melatonin that accompany the benefit of being able to sleep. The patient may find that dreams become extremely vivid and realistic. In some cases, nightmares may develop, leaving the patient feeling less rested after a full night of dreams. Adjusting the dosage slightly can sometimes alleviate side effects of this type.
An example of a less common side effect includes a loss of sex drive in both male and female patients taking the hormone. In some cases, the patient loses all interest in sexual activity, while others find that they receive less enjoyment from physical intimacy. There are some reported instances of the melatonin treatments having a negative impact on the function of both the male and the female reproductive systems.
Patients who are already dealing with depression are highly likely to experience side effects from melatonin. The depression may deepen, causing the individual to exhibit higher levels of irritability as well as deepen the desire to withdraw from social activities. Melatonin therapy may also have a negative impact on people suffering with anxiety disorders, even when depression is not present.
In general, people with high blood pressure, a history of seizures or with signs of liver disease should not undergo melatonin supplement therapy. In addition to the enhanced potential for experiencing the full range of side effects, the treatments may also exacerbate each of these medical conditions.