The long list of potential COVID-19 treatments that researchers have suggested has one more addition: melatonin. A Texas doctor claims that he has treated 400 COVID-19 patients with the hormone , with few individuals developing severe enough cases to require hospitalization. The treatment appears to have provided vitamin C and vitamin D to patients as well. Neither vitamin qualifies as a verified and scientifically backed SARS-CoV-2 treatment, but their inclusion means that even if patient success was due to these supplements, the melatonin might not be the only factor.
The Sleep Hormone
Melatonin often goes by its nickname: the sleep hormone. Released by a gland in our brains, the molecule helps prepare our bodies for sleep — circulating levels of melatonin ramp up at night and drop off during the day. Melatonin supplements are often sold under the premise that the gummies or tablets will help people sleep. Research indicates the hormone could help with COVID-19. Those suggesting that melatonin might benefit infected individuals focus on how the hormone interacts with our immune systems and may help fight inflammation.
Melatonin Associated with a Positive Outcome
Respiratory distress requiring intubation is the most serious complication associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).Methods In this retrospective study, we used survival analysis to determine whether or not mortality following intubation was associated with hormone exposure in patients treated at New York Presbyterian/ Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Here, we report the overall hazards ratio for each hormone for exposure before and after intubation for intubated and mechanically ventilated patients. Results Among the 189,987 patients, we identified 948 intubation periods across 791 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 or infected with SARS-CoV2 and 3,497 intubation periods across 2,981 patients who were not. Melatonin exposure after intubation was statistically associated with a positive outcome in COVID-19 (demographics and comorbidities adjusted HR: 0.131, 95% CI: 7.76E-02 – 0.223, p-value = 8.19E-14) and non-COVID-19.
Melatonin exposure following intubation was also associated with a positive survival outcome among patients with COVID-19 who required mechanical ventilation. However, no such benefit was observed among non-COVID-19 patients who required mechanical ventilation. The authors say this suggests that melatonin may target severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-induced inflammation in the most severe cases of COVID-19.
In a new analysis of patient data from the Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that patients who happened to be taking melatonin were nearly 30% less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, independent of risk factors like age or other diseases. Among African-Americans, the difference was even greater, with a 52% reduction. “Melatonin is the top drug we found that potentially could statistically significantly reduce the risk for SARS-CoV-2,” says Feixiong Cheng, assistant staff in the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study, published in PLOS Biology.
Unfortunately, there is not enough specific evidence at this time as to whether melatonin influences coronavirus outcomes or not. What we do know, however, is that good sleep is crucial for a healthy immune system, and that means 7-9 hours a night for most people. Just one night of poor sleep can reduce your immune cells by as much as 70%, research shows. There is even more evidence now that getting enough vitamin D, C and zinc could reduce the risk of severe coronavirus infections. Dr. Fauci says that he takes vitamin D and C supplements and that he believes they can lessen your susceptibility to infection.