The popular dietary supplement, melatonin, commonly used by insomnia sufferers, could help prevent or treat COVID-19, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.
Melatonin — which regulates the sleep-wake cycle — was associated with an almost 30% reduction in likelihood of contracting the disease, the scientists said in research published in the journal PLOS Biology. Although additional studies are needed, the results are looking promising.
“These findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” Feixiong Cheng, lead researcher of the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute said in a statement.
“Large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19,” he added. “But we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”
Cheng used artificial intelligence (AI) to investigate a COVID-19 registry of nearly 27,000 people at the hospital.
They found that people who take melatonin are nearly 28 percent less likely to test positive.
The difference is even more significant among Black people.
“Importantly, melatonin usage is associated with a 52% reduced likelihood of a positive laboratory test result for SARS-CoV-2 in African Americans,” the study showed.
“When we got this result, we were very excited,” Cheng said. “If our findings can help the patients, that’s our goal and mission — and at the Cleveland Clinic as well.”
President Trump also received melatonin — in addition to zinc, vitamin D, famotidine and aspirin — while he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October.
He was treated with experimental polyclonal antibodies, the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone.
When asked if people who take melatonin are less susceptible to the virus because they are getting better sleep or because of the supplement itself, Cheng said researchers don’t know the “exact mechanism” yet.
“But more and more data comes out that support our hypothesis,” he stated, adding that studies increasingly show melatonin can also help regulate the immune system.
Other studies also have shown that melatonin reduces chronic and acute inflammation, the station reported.
“Melatonin can also help us improve our human body — what we call tolerance. To help us reduce the tissue or organ damage induced by COVID infection,” Cheng said.
Meanwhile, a study of thousands of intubated COVID-19 patients conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that when they were exposed to melatonin after getting intubated, they had better outcomes.
Additionally, University of Toronto researchers found that melatonin can be added to increase the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.
Currently, eight clinical trials around the world are underway to see if the melatonin usage findings are conclusive. If the widely available sleep hormone does prove to help people, it would be the cheapest and most readily accessible medicine to counter the deadly bug.
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