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Scientists: Common sleep aid could be used to help prevent or treat COVID-19

"People who take melatonin are nearly 28% less likely to test positive for COVID"

Updated: December 30, 2020 - 6:16pm

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Researchers at the renowned Cleveland Clinic say melatonin, a dietary supplement that is used as a sleep aid for people suffering from insomnia, could be employed to help prevent or treat COVID-19.

Melatonin was associated with a nearly 30% reduction in the likelihood of contracting the virus, the scientists said in research published in the journal PLOS Biology, KIRO-TV reported.

"Lead researcher Dr. Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., and his team used artificial intelligence to comb through a COVID-19 registry at the Cleveland Clinic, which included nearly 27,000 people. They found people who take melatonin are nearly 28% less likely to test positive for COVID," the station reported.

The study also found melatonin usage "is associated with a 52% reduced likelihood of a positive laboratory test result for SARS-CoV-2 in African Americans.”

The researchers, though, said more studies are needed to determine if the over-the-counter supplement would be effective.

“It is very important to note these findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” Cheng 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,” said Cheng, who works in the Clinic's Genomic Medicine Institute. “But we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”

The study was published last month, but an article in The Atlantic brought awareness of its findings. The magazine said eight clinical trials are currently underway around the world to see if the melatonin findings can be confirmed. 

Another study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that when patients were given melatonin after getting intubated, they had better outcomes.

“Melatonin can also help us improve our human body, what we call tolerance, to help us reduce the tissue or organ damage induced by COVID infection,” Cheng said.

In addition, University of Toronto researchers found that melatonin can be used to increase the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines, according to News-Medical.net.

When President Trump contracted COVID-19 in October, he received melatonin as part of his treatment, along with zinc, vitamin D, famotidine and aspirin. He was also treated with experimental polyclonal antibodies, the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone.

 

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