Melatonin and Metabolic Syndrome

Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Published Online: Thursday, July 5th, 2018
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) has become increasingly more common. Associated with obesity, individuals who develop MetS generally have increased systemic inflammation, and the condition is symptomless. Many Americans look for complementary and alternative medicines to improve their general health, and to address specific health problems. This is true of systemic inflammation, and 1 option alleged to be a powerful antioxidant ,and anti-inflammatory substance is melatonin.

Melatonin’s most familiar use is to address failure to fall asleep or insomnia. Increasingly, melatonin is being used for other indications, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and migraine, all of which are neurologic. A team of researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, and several universities in Iran have published a systematic meta-analysis that looks at melatonin’s effects on inflammation, in the journal Inflammopharmacology.

Metabolic syndrome is the co-presentation of several disorders (typically obesity, elevated lipids, and prediabetes or diabetes) that significantly increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. These researchers based their hypothesis on previous work that indicates that melatonin and its metabolites are free radical scavengers with an affinity for hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide. Melatonin also has the potential to stimulate genes that promote antioxidant enzymes.

This meta-analysis found that several studies documented melatonin’s propensity to decrease C-reactive protein, and interleukin-6. Melatonin did not seem to have any effect on tumor necrosis factor-alpha. They note that the number of studies included in this meta-analysis is small because little research has been done on this topic.

Studies with the best data addressed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and diabetes. Doses were generally around 10 mg per day, and study durations tended to be around or greater than 8 weeks.
MetS is associated with elevated blood glucose and diabetes, and elevated C-reactive protein levels have also been associated with insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, and vascular/nonvascular mortality.

Naturally produced melatonin tends to decrease with advancing age, so supplementation is a potential intervention. 


Akbari M, Ostadmohammadi V, Tabrizi R, et al. The effects of melatonin supplementation on inflammatory markers among patients with metabolic syndrome or related disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Inflammopharmacology. 2018 Jun 15. doi: 10.1007/s10787-018-0508-7. [Epub ahead of print]

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