Can Melatonin Effectively Treat COVID-19?

Source: Freepik

A recent review has found evidence for Melatonin as an effective and non-toxic option for treating COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, researchers have been on the search for effective therapeutic options against the novel coronavirus. As a result, doctors have turned to existing treatments such as steroids, remdesivir, and anti-malarial drugs. However, these options are expensive and often associated with toxic side effects. Therefore, researchers have begun looking into the role of melatonin as a treatment of severe COVID-19.

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland within our brains. It helps regulate our circadian rhythm and is also available as a common drug. Although it is more commonly a cure for the occasional jet lag or sleep disturbances, several studies have hinted at its antiviral properties. Moreover, multiple clinical trials assessing melatonin for coronavirus treatment are currently underway. These trials are assessing the efficacy of melatonin at daily doses of 2 mg to 500 mg.

Recently, researchers conducted a review of multiple publications surrounding the use of the drug, especially among hospitalized patients.

Twice the Efficacy of Remdesivir

A majority of COVID-19-related deaths occur due to sepsis and septic shock. The protein, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, is responsible for mediating the hypoxic damage present in severe infection. However, the review found that melatonin can inhibit HIF1-α and prevent the cytokine storm associated with lung damage. Moreover, the molecule blocks biochemical pathways that cause oxidative stress and damage to cells.

According to the study authors, the lower melatonin production levels in the elderly could be a contributing factor to severe COVID-19. Therefore, they suggest that future melatonin trials should include children and older adults for better generalization of results.

Based on the review’s findings, researchers find melatonin to be twice as effective as remdesivir or tocilizumab in reducing inflammatory markers in COVID-19. Moreover, none of the studies or trials has reported any toxic effects with even the highest dosage of melatonin.

The authors believe that all available, potentially beneficial drugs, including melatonin, that lack toxicity should be used in pandemics such as that caused by SARS-CoV-2.

study authors


Reiter, R. J., Sharma, R., Simko, F., et al. (2022). Melatonin: Highlighting Its Use as A Potential Treatment For SARS-Cov-2 Infection. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. doi:10.1007/s00018-021-04102-3.


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