Can melatonin help prevent severe COVID-19?

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has rapidly spread worldwide, infecting over 64.50 million people across 191 territories. Caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the infection has already claimed more than 1.49 million lives.

The coronavirus pandemic is by far the worst global health crisis in the past century. The magnitude of the disease’s spread stemmed from the number of people who traveled early in 2020 when there were still only a few cases of COVID-19. Of all the victims of the virus, older adults and those with underlying health issues are the most vulnerable and are more likely to develop severe symptoms.

Currently, there is no approved drug that is safe and effective in mitigating severe or critical COVID-19. Many health experts have recommended repurposing old antivirals – like remdesivir and dexamethasone – to reduce the risk of developing severe illness. More recently, some have recommended melatonin as a potential therapeutic that can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A team of researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada has found that melatonin can be an adjuvant to augment the efficacy of anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. They believe that the drug is a potential “silver bullet” to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study: Can Melatonin Be a Potential “Silver Bullet” in Treating COVID-19 Patients? Image Credit: Michelle Lee Photography / Shutterstock
Study: Can Melatonin Be a Potential “Silver Bullet” in Treating COVID-19 Patients? Image Credit: Michelle Lee Photography / Shutterstock

Melatonin and COVID-19

In the study, which was published in the journal Diseases, the scientists discussed the potential benefit of melatonin for COVID-19 patients. They discussed evidence implying that melatonin prevents SARS-CoV-2 infection, has anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and antioxidant properties, counteracts chronodisruption, and combats many comorbidities, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

The SARS-CoV-2 pathogen enters the cells via the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor in the lungs and other organs in the body. The virus’s spike glycoprotein on its surface docks onto the ACE2 dimer to infiltrate the host cell and commence viral replication.

Previous studies suggest that melatonin may be an effective antiviral agent amid the coronavirus pandemic. In one study, the researchers found that a drug combination of melatonin and mercaptopurine effectively hits the HCoV-host subnetwork and was recommended as a possible drug combination for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Another possible way melatonin may regulate viral infection is related to its effective binding and inhibition of calmodulin, which regulates the surface expression and retention of ACE2 in the plasma membrane.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Apart from preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2, melatonin has also been noted for its anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and antioxidant properties.

Melatonin applies anti-inflammatory effects through sirtuin-1, which inhibits the polarization of macrophages towards the proinflammatory type. Further, the drug decreases the proinflammatory cytokines, which have been tied to severe COVID-19 disease.

The drug has antioxidant properties as it acts as a free radical searcher; it is metabolized to compounds with high antioxidant activity, and triggers the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes.

Chronobiotic and cytoprotective agent

Apart from reducing inflammation and cytokine levels, melatonin is also a chronobiotic and cytoprotective agent. A chronobiotic agent is a drug that affects the physiological regulation of the body clock, which can correct a desynchronized circadian rhythm. Regulating and maintaining a stable body clock is important to boost energy levels and the immune system.

Melatonin is also a cytoprotective agent, which can help combat the common comorbidities that can heighten the risk of severe COVID-19. These include diabetes, metabolic syndrome and ischemic cardiovascular disease.

Lastly, melatonin also provides neuroprotection for COVID-19 patients. Some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 patients experience include loss of smell, paralysis, stroke, cranial nerve deficits, delirium, meningitis, seizures, and encephalopathy.

“Melatonin as a potential “silver bullet” in the COVID 19 pandemic, as exemplified in the brain. Melatonin has possible antiviral activity by interfering with SARS-CoV-2/angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 association,” the researchers explained.

In a nutshell, melatonin is a potent drug that can be used in treating COVID-19 patients. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory compound that impairs the complications of COVID-19.

Also, melatonin is an effective chronobiotic agent that reverses disruptions in the circadian rhythm. As a neuroprotective agent, it helps prevent the neurological effects of COVID-19, including cognitive decay and brain fog.

Older people have lower levels of circulating melatonin in the body, explaining why some may be more likely to suffer from severe symptoms.

Viruses can induce an increase in inflammatory cytokines, and since older adults have low levels of melatonin, they will have impaired immunity.

“Therefore, the use of the very safe drug melatonin in adequate doses can prevent the development of severe disease symptoms in coronavirus patients, reduce the severity of their symptoms, and reduce the immuno-pathology of coronavirus infection on patients’ health after the active phase of the infection is over,” the researchers explained.

Further, the team noted that melatonin could be used as an adjuvant for future vaccines since it helps prevents reinfection.

Journal reference:
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.


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  1. Rhicke Jennings Rhicke Jennings Indonesia says:

    Thank you for your well written article. I have used melatonin for years and sleep better with it. I am pleased to learn there are numerous other benefits including the possibility of Covid protection.

  2. ꧁∙∙꧂ ꧁∙∙꧂ United States says:

    Though I wasn’t all that concerned to begin with, it is good to know my kids are getting some extra protections. We do what we can to keep their natural immunity high.

  3. ieva jenciute ieva jenciute South Africa says:

    been articles back in march to use melatonin; If Im no medical background came to the conclusion that it's melatonin and then found so much info into it - don't understand why most doctors don't know that. Perhaps, because more bat viruses to come

    • Scott Miller Scott Miller United States says:

      Exactly. I was reading articles about it in February, and started using Vit. D, NAC,  and melatonin in April for my patients, along with Ivermectin; life saving combination. In this "time of pandemic and fear", who would have thought that a vitamin/hormone (D3), a sleep hormone that blocks caspase-1, NLRP3, and IL-6=cytokine storm (melatonin), and a medication I use to treat resistant headlice, which inhibits viral entry into the nucleus of the cell by blocking IMP alpha and beta, which prevents viral replication (Ivermectin), could be the cure for COVID. There is no money or fear in treatments. So far, not a single one of my patients has needed to go to an urgent care or ER after starting on the protocol. Everyone needs to research Dr. Marik and Dr. Kory research on COVID treatments!!!

  4. Kelli Lynn Kelli Lynn United States says:

    I had contracted covid in Feb.  After 6 months I had come across a retired military Dr who had a very easy melatonin regimen to follow that hw had been using for 20 plus years on PTSD patients.  After 2 weeks on his regimen I lost all brain fog speech issues visual issues comprehension issues and insomnia.  It was 300 micrograms in the morning with caffeine.  10 milligrams at nite before bed.   I noticed a change within days.  I can tell you more if you'd like.

  5. Robert Quint Robert Quint United States says:

    I have taken melatonin for a few years now because I had read some articles about it’s  anti-inflammatory and clotting regulation. I have a clotting factor called laden V. So after reading about the possibility of it helping me I decided to take it prophylactically. Then as this pandemic raised its ugly head I started to read about its ability to dampen the side effects of Cytokine storm that can occur in acute cases and blood clotting as well.
    What I haven’t really heard is what is the recommended dosages for Covid prevention? I am currently taking 20-40mg nightly. If anyone has credible data, please share.

    Great article!

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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