Scientists study melatonin as possible COVID-19 treatment

Melatonin, a dietary supplement often used by insomnia sufferers, could be used to possibly help prevent or treat COVID-19, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.

The hormone — which regulates the sleep-wake cycle — was associated with an almost 30 percent reduced likelihood of contracting the disease, the scientists said in research published in the journal PLOS Biology, KIRO 7 reported.

Additional studies are required about the over-the-counter supplement, the researchers said.

“It is very important to note these findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” lead researcher Feixiong Cheng of the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute said in a statement, WebMD reported.

“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 and his team used artificial intelligence to sift through 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 blacks.

“Importantly, melatonin usage is associated with a 52 percent reduced likelihood of a positive laboratory test result for SARS-CoV-2 in African Americans,” the study said.

“When we got this result, we were very excited,” Cheng told KIRO 7. “If our findings can help the patients, that’s our goal and mission — and at the Cleveland Clinic as well.”


The study was published last month, but an article in The Atlantic on the connection between the coronavirus and sleep sparked new interest about the research, the outlet reported.

“I read the article about melatonin and sleep and I was like, ‘I already take melatonin every day!’” Seattle resident Ruth Harvey told KIRO 7. “I said, ‘That’s great, maybe I’m doing the right thing to stay healthy.’ It’s really encouraging.”

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