Herb-Drug Interactions: Melatonin

N-(2-(5-Methoxyindol-3-yl)ethyl)acetamide Types, sources and related compounds N- Acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine. Use and indications Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland of the brain and influences the circadian rhythm. Supplements are therefore principally used for treating sleep disturbances and disorders such as jet lag, insomnia, sleep walking, and shift-work sleep disorder. It is also believed to have anticancer and antihypertensive properties, and has been used to treat cluster headaches. Melatonin has also been detected in a large number of plant species, including those used as foods. Concentrations detected have been very variable, the reasons for which are currently uncertain. In addition, the importance of dietary melatonin is unclear. Pharmacokinetics When an oral melatonin supplement 3mg was given to 17 healthy subjects the AUC and maximum serum levels of melatonin were about 18-fold and 100-fold greater, respectively, than overnight endogenous melatonin secretion, although there was a wide variation between individuals.The oral bioavailability was approximately 15% after oral doses of 2 or 4mg, possibly due to significant first-pass metabolism. The half-life has been found Read more […]


ANTIDEPRESSANTS are used to relieve the symptoms of depressive illness, an affective disorder. There are three main groups of drugs used for the purpose. All interfere with the function of monoamine neurotransmitters, and the considerable delay before antidepressants become effective is taken as evidence of a down-regulation of noradrenergic or serotonergic systems (rather than the opposite, as advanced in Schildkraut’s original amine theory of depression). Tricyclic antidepressants are the oldest group (named after the chemical structure of the original members) .e.g. imipramine. They act principally as CNS monoamine (re-) UPTAKE INHIBITORS. Although far from ideal, this is still the most-used antidepressant group. Chemically, they have gone through transformations from the dibenzazepines (e.g. imipramine, desipramine), to dibenzcycloheptenes (e.g. amitriptyline, nortryptyline), dibenzoxepines (e.g. doxepin) and some recent members are not strictly tricyclics. They are effective in alleviating a number of depressive symptoms, though they have troublesome anticholinergic and other side-effects. Most drugs of this class also have sedative properties, which is more pronounced in some, especially amitriptyline, which Read more […]

St John’s wort: Clinical Use

Up until recently, most trials conducted with St John’s wort used a 0.3% hypericin water and alcohol extract known as LI 150. Subsequently, studies using different preparations, such as WS 5573 (standardised to hyperforin) or ZE 117 (a low concentration hyperforin preparation), have been tested. DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY Clinical note — The Hamilton Depression Scale The Hamilton Depression Scale is an observer-rated scale that focuses mainly on somatic symptoms of depression. Although the original version included 21 items, a similar version using 17 items is more commonly used in clinical trials. Most studies using the Hamilton Depression Scale report the number of ‘treatment responders’ (patients achieving a score less than 10 and/or less than 50% of the baseline score). Mild to moderate depression St John’s wort has shown efficacy as a successful treatment for mild to moderate depression in numerous double-blind placebo-controlled trials, confirmed by several meta-analyses. The most recent Cochrane review released in 2005 analysed data from 37 double-blind, randomised studies (n = 4925) that used monopreparations of St John’s wort over a treatment period of at least 4 weeks. It concluded that hypericum Read more […]