Melatonin, the mother hormone of chronobiology, could play a central role in the protection against and treatment of COVID-19, while supporting the immune response to vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. This is the result of a new Spanish-Portuguese study on the many advantages of melatonin in the fight against the coronavirus.
Furthermore, the authors of the study recommend combining conventional therapy methods with melatonin, which could prove to be the gold standard we currently need to combat COVID-19. The reasons for this recommendation are as varied as the characteristics of this important hormone.
Melatonin: The Multi-Tasking Hormone
The role of melatonin in the control and maintenance of the circadian rhythm, a roughly 24-hour sleep-wake cycle that governs many important tasks for the brain, organs and mental health, has been long-recognized and well researched. Sleep strengthens the immune system. People who sleep too little or at less than ideal intervals are four times as likely to get flu-like infections because their immune system is weakened by the sleep deficit.
In addition to its role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, melatonin has proven to be a “universal cell protector” that is responsible for many important biochemical processes in the body. It helps to regulate the immunological response and protects against oxidative damage. It is precisely these two properties that make melatonin such an interesting prospect in the context of the fight against COVID-19.
Melatonin: An Immune System Booster
After nearly two years of the global pandemic, it has been proven that the risk of a severe SARS-CoV-2 infection increases with age. One reason for this higher risk: A weakened immune system can no longer cope with the inflammation that triggers a SARS-CoV-2 infection, which explains the vulnerability and (often) devastating course of the disease in older people.
According to the authors of the study, the reason for this weakened immune reaction in the elderly also involves the fact that melatonin levels naturally decrease with age, which in turn impacts the immune system and its defense against inflammation.
Melatonin: The Perfect Antioxidant
Melatonin has another property that is extremely relevant when it comes to protection against SARS-CoV-2: It is the star antioxidant in the body. As such, it fights and neutralizes free radicals, which can lead to apoptosis or programmed cell death. This process protects the DNA from damage in almost every cell. In addition, melatonin can trigger cell production of more “radical catchers,“ which further increases its antioxidant effect.
Melatonin and the Coronavirus Vaccine
As the study further clarifies, melatonin may increase the effectiveness of an anti-corona vaccine in people with a weaker immune system, such as the elderly and patients with comorbidities. It does this by supporting the formation of B-cells, which produce important antibodies against any virus strain.
It has also been shown that melatonin treatment prior to vaccination strengthens the formation of natural “killer“ cells, which in turn fight cells that are carrying pathogens. Melatonin may also help reduce the potential side effects of the vaccine.
Summary of the Study
In summary, the study authors consider it crucial to combine supplemental melatonin with conventional COVID-19 treatment to help contain the current spread of the disease and improve clinical therapy for patients. Melatonin is well tolerated even in high doses, which additionally increases its usefulness in the fight against SARS-CoV-2.