Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleep. Melatonin is produced naturally by the body. Studies have shown that people with epilepsy have lower-than-normal levels of melatonin. It is unknown whether decreased melatonin levels are caused by epilepsy itself or anti-epileptic drugs. Researchers have also found that melatonin levels are increased significantly after seizures occur.
The melatonin in supplements is manufactured synthetically in a laboratory. Many people use melatonin to treat sleeplessness, recover from jet-lag, or maintain a healthy sleep schedule while working nights. Some scientists and doctors believe that taking melatonin supplements at bedtime may help some people with epilepsy to have fewer and shorter seizures.
If you choose to try melatonin, it is important to maintain the traditional drug and therapy regimen established by your doctor. These treatments have been proven effective in rigorous, scientific trials. It is also vital to inform your doctor of all treatments you incorporate so that they can warn you about any potential interactions and correctly interpret any side effects.
What does it involve?
Before taking melatonin, talk to your doctor about possible drug interactions and safe dosage.
Melatonin is available over the counter. You can purchase melatonin as pills, sprays or dissolving tablets. Take melatonin each night before bed; consult your doctor on the best timing.
Melatonin may help reduce the risk of seizures or shorten the length of seizures in some people with epilepsy.
A 2013 article summarized the findings of 26 clinical studies on the use of melatonin to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. Researchers found mixed and inconclusive results. Most of the studies were not conducted using scientific methods such as double blinding, randomization, or controls. Of the three studies that utilized these rigorous methods, one showed that melatonin significantly decreased seizures, while the other two showed neither improvement or worsening.
In at least one study, melatonin increased the number of seizures experienced by participants.
It may be the case that melatonin can reduce seizures in some people, but increase them in others. More large, controlled studies are needed in order to better understand how melatonin levels are related to epilepsy, and whether melatonin supplements can safely and effectively be used to treat seizures.
Melatonin should be used with caution and physician oversight in children.
Melatonin may interact with other hormones, which may result in the disturbance of growth patterns in adolescents.
Melatonin may increase the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and seizures in some people.