Have you ever been in pain? Chances are you’re wincing as you answer that question. Pain is the most common symptom of all medical conditions. Therefore, pain relief is not only essential for recovery but also key for keeping you sane. We may now be able to turn to nature for help with this ubiquitous ailment. A recent review examined the use of the hormone, melatonin as a painkiller in fibromyalgia, irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and migraines.
What Is Melatonin
Melatonin is naturally produced in the brain from tryptophan but can also be found in dietary sources such as tart cherry juice, tomatoes, grape skins and the seeds from fennel, celery, poppy and sunflower. Although dietary sources may not contain the dosage similar to the synthetic version, the natural hormone may act as an antioxidant protecting against free-radical damage.
1. Fibromyalgia Relief: It is estimated over 5 million Americans have fibromyalgia. In looking at studies of patients with fibromyalgia, which is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and sleep problems; those who ingested synthetic melatonin reported less pain than the control group. It is thought that fibromyalgia amplifies pain by affecting the way your brain processes the signals. For the one in 50 Americans whom are estimated to have fibromyalgia, pain management is a struggle. Up until now, medicine, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and yoga have been helpful in managing symptoms.
2. IBS Relief: Irritable bowel syndrome impacts upwards of 10% of the population, and can cause cramping abdominal pain among other symptoms. When measuring pain tolerance in rats, those given synthetic melatonin showed a higher tolerance for pain as compared to a control group. In human studies, pain was reduced in patients with IBS.
3. Chronic Migraine Relief: Chronic migraine sufferers experience headaches more than fifteen days a month. Even more interesting was that migraine frequency and severity was reduced among the melatonin users. Current pain relievers such as nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and morphine can be addictive, have adverse side effects and can actually increase your chances of developing chronic migraines.
It remains unclear how melatonin acts as a painkiller. Scientists performed a review of studies conducted in both rats and humans. Although when examined in these studies, melatonin was not found to have any adverse side effects. However, the hormone is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation or with some medications so consult your physician first.
Other Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin is most famous for its role in helping us fall asleep at night and awake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning. Okay, clearly this hormone works better when paired with a hot cup of morning coffee, but nonetheless establishes our circadian rhythms.