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Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces from serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter.

The hormone controls the day-night rhythm of the body. Melatonin is produced almost exclusively at night; daylight inhibits melatonin synthesis. It crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Alcohol consumption causes the stress hormone cortisol to be unattenuated. Cortisol subsequently blocks the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which ensures that we do not wake up between sleep phases.

Melatonin is the focus of intense research. Melatonin is a powerful free radical scavenger and an antioxidant with a broad spectrum of activity. The antioxidant effect of melatonin is twice that of vitamin E. It also apparently improves the treatment of tumors without having serious side effects. In fibromyalgia, it can reduce pain.

Melatonin is popular with frequent flyers, who often jet across the pond and therefore must constantly cope with different time zones. They take melatonin as a tablet to help them fall into the right sleep rhythm.

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