Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland to synchronize our biological clock.
Although melatonin has become a popular sleep supplement, I would advise caution in taking it. Sleep involves a cascade of biological events that work in unison. For example, changes in blood pressure and adrenal gland stress hormones occur in response to pineal gland activation. Taking a supplement for the symptom without understanding the cause may result in more dysfunction to other aspects of the system. The goal in holistic care is to restore balance and not just chase symptoms.
Taking melatonin may help the symptom of difficulty sleeping initially, but often low melatonin production was not the problem. By taking additional melatonin (when your body doesn't actually need more), you also risk disruption to a part of the system that was previously working (pineal gland function).
In other words, after the initial benefits wear off you are left with two problems:
the initial problem that was never addressed
and now a new problem of pineal gland dysfunction
The best approach, when using botanical medicines or supplements, is to restore function to the part of the system that is causing the problem. In this way, you can work yourself off the supplement as normal function and balance returns.
Integrative & Holistic Medicine