What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and then released into the bloodstream. Darkness prompts the pineal gland to start producing melatonin while light causes that production to stop. As a result, melatonin helps regulate circadian rhythm and synchronize our sleep-wake cycle with night and day. In doing so, it facilitates a transition to sleep and promotes consistent, quality rest.
The hormone melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle. Natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night. Some research suggests that melatonin supplements might be helpful in treating sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase, and providing some relief from insomnia and jet lag.
In humans, nocturnal levels of melatonin decrease across puberty. The level of circulating melatonin can be detected in samples of blood and saliva, and this is used in clinical research to identify internal circadian rhythms.
Most of the research into the function of the pineal gland involves the human brain’s responses to melatonin rhythms. The evidence supports two roles for melatonin in humans: the involvement of nocturnal melatonin secretion in initiating and maintaining sleep, and control of the day/night melatonin rhythm of the timing of other 24-hour rhythms. Melatonin has, therefore, often been referred to as a ‘sleep hormone’; although it is not essential for human sleep, we sleep better during the time that melatonin is secreted.
How is melatonin controlled?
In humans and other mammals, the daily rhythm of pineal melatonin production is driven by the ‘master’ circadian clock. This ‘clock’ is in a region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei, which expresses a series of genes termed clock genes that continuously oscillate throughout the day. This is synchronized to the solar day via light input from the eyes. The suprachiasmatic nuclei link to the pineal gland through a complex pathway in the nervous system, passing through different brain areas, into the spinal cord, and then finally reaching the pineal gland. During the day, the suprachiasmatic nuclei stop melatonin production by sending inhibitory messages to the pineal gland. At night, however, the suprachiasmatic nuclei are less active, and the inhibition exerted during the day is reduced resulting in melatonin production by the pineal gland.
Light is an important regulator of melatonin production from the pineal gland. Firstly, it can reset a specific area of the brain (the suprachiasmatic nuclei clock) and, as a result, the timing of melatonin production. Secondly, exposure to light during the body’s biological night reduces melatonin production and release. Also Read: Is Melatonin An Addictive Drug?
What happens if I have too much melatonin?
There are large variations in the amount of melatonin produced by individuals and these are not associated with any health problems. The main consequences of swallowing large amounts of melatonin are drowsiness and reduced core body temperature. Very large doses have effects on the performance of the human reproductive system. There is also evidence that very high concentrations of melatonin have an antioxidant effect, although the purpose of this has not yet been established.
What happens if you snort melatonin?
Not much is known about melatonin but snorting this relatively new substance can have many undesirable consequences. Regardless of the method through which melatonin is administered, the substance must be absorbed into the bloodstream before it can reach the brain and produce its effects. Snorting melatonin requires the substance to be absorbed through the nasal membrane and into the surrounding blood vessels. Those blood vessels then carry the drug to the heart, where it can be carried throughout the entire body, including all major organs as well as the brain. The drug must then pass through the blood-brain barrier—a highly selective and protective lining of endothelial cells that separates the blood from the brain—before it can interact with receptors in the brain and elicit its effects.
Since snorting drugs allows them to enter the bloodstream fairly quickly, they can affect the brain in a relatively short amount of time. This can increase the abuse potential of a drug because the “high” produced by the substance occurs almost immediately after the drug is administered.
Snorting melatonin introduces the powdered substance into the nasal passages, which can negatively impact the respiratory system. Long-term intranasal drug use can lead to chronic nosebleeds and runny nose, as well as a loss of the sense of smell, according to NIDA. Some of these consequences may be reversible once the drug use is stopped, but over time, repeated intranasal drug use can lead to perforation of the nasal septum, which can result in breathing difficulties. Full recovery from the physical effects of snorting drugs may not always be possible. Also, read Does Melatonin Appear On Drug Test