Several researchers have looked into the impact that the sleep aid melatonin has on patients with severe COVID-19, and early data suggest it may help in recovery. 

The early data suggest that melatonin may benefit those experiencing long-term neurological effects of COVID-19. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that plays a role in sleep and impacts the circadian rhythm. It can be bought as a supplement, and It is also known to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people, but mostly children experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or immediately after a COVID-19 infection. MIS is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed and can lead to post-COVID conditions.

A clinical trial published in October found that oral melatonin, when added to standard of care, was more effective than standard of care alone in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. The trial involved 150 COVID-19 patients at the Al-Shifaa hospital in Mosul, Iraq who took at least 10 mg of melatonin every night before bed. Researchers found those patients had a lower risk of COVID-19 related blood clots, sepsis, and death. One hospitalized patient taking melatonin died and 13 deaths occurred in the control group. 

A group of researchers in Spain found those hospitalized with COVID-19 who received melatonin early in the pandemic nearly had a 40 percent lower risk of death in a retrospective study. 

Researchers in France found melatonin blocked COVID-19 from entering the brain of mice, according to data released last week. However, the paper has not been peer-reviewed. 

It is estimated that the neurological or psychiatric diagnosis six months after infection will occur 33 percent of the time with no apparent correlation with severeness of COVID-19 in the acute phase, according to researchers, who used electronic health records of over 236,000 patients with COVID-19. 

These neurological issues occur when COVID-19  enters the brain through an ACE-2 receptor, according to researchers. Data suggests that melatonin alters the shape of ACE-2 receptors which prevents the virus from entering. 

The French study acknowledges the potential beneficial effects to treat COVID-19 as postulated by several review articles, but there is very little experimental data from animal models or humans that are currently available. Researchers urge people to not misunderstand the role melatonin has although experimental data suggest it can combat early viral replication.

Melatonin is a point of interest among researchers and there are several clinical trials underway to determine its efficacy. The French researchers suggested an analysis directly devoted to studying the effects of melatonin treatment, specifically at high doses, in relieving long-term neurological effects would be required. 

“Melatonin is a medicine that can be obtained without a prescription. Unfortunately, retrospective studies, seeking to determine the efficacy of drugs against neurological disorders in COVID-19, and which would be based on cohorts of already existing patients taking or not taking melatonin supplements, do not allow a well-controlled analysis because the dose and the time of taking melatonin-derived medicines are usually not known,” the authors wrote. 

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