Any Dispatch reader will certainly not be shocked that we regularly write about, and interview experts concerning the wild west of the American health frontier the largely unregulated vitamin and supplements industry. And it should be no surprise that we are rarely short on material. Indeed, stories about poorly manufactured, untested, and adulterated supplements come up about as often as the sun.
Melatonin is the latest in a long series of "alternative" medicine "miracles." It has been described as useful for treating or preventing jet lag, insomnia, immune disorders, cancer and the degenerative effects of aging and for the enhancement of sexual function. A supposed benefit of this product is that it is "natural" in the sense that humans normally produce it in their bodies. Thus, people who avoid over-the-counter sleep aids can presumably relax about taking melatonin. Unfortunately, like many other widely touted natural products, melatonin will not fulfill all its promoters' many promises. As it is sold over the counter today, melatonin is as likely to harm as to help.