Autism: Is Long Term Melatonin Use Safe?

Warning – This is information is for Beginners AND Advanced

Melatonin most often is used at the beginning of healing but sometimes used towards the end.​ ​In the beginning, it’s usually used alone and solely for sleep but towards the end of healing, it is used in combination with other supplements.​

Work with a knowledgeable Functional Medicine practitioner who knows what they are doing at each step.​

Lack of Sleep

We know that those with Autism have sleep problems.  And if they are having sleep problems, we, as parents are having sleep problems too!

Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the severity of ASD symptoms 1,2 such as:​

  • aggressive behaviors​
  • repetitive behaviors​
  • social and communication difficulties​
  • total behavior problems

Indications of Need for Melatonin

Melatonin is used when someone has sleep issues at the  BEGINNING​ of the Autism healing journey. However, Melatonin at different doses is used for things such as:

  • ​Gut motility problems​
  • Dysbiosis​
  • Cognitive issues​
  • Immune system dysregulation​
  • Detoxification problems​
  • High blood glucose levels​

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone.  A derivative of the important neurotransmitter serotonin.​ It is found in humans, animals, plants, and microbes.  It is a lipophilic molecule aka fat-loving, meaning it can diffuse through biological membranes easily.​

Melatonin & Autism​

  • Melatonin is one of the most studied supplements in those with autism.​
  • ​There are over 20 studies in humans and most find improved sleep with minimal adverse effects.​
  • ​All of these studies are using doses of melatonin to impact sleep.​

Long-term Melatonin Use

Parents have worried about the long term effects of using melatonin.​ ​A long term study was just completed to evaluate the safety of long term melatonin use for sleep issues. 

The study had 80 children with autism, ages 2-17. Melatonin was used for 104 weeks in 2, 5 or 10mg doses. 

Long-term Study Conclusions: 

  • Melatonin was determined to be safe and effective for long-term treatment of sleep issues in those with autism.​
  • The study found no observed detrimental effects on children’s growth and puberty development.  There were no withdrawal or safety issues related to the use or discontinuation of melatonin.​
  • FYI- the melatonin manufacturer was involved in this study because it used a very specific manufacturing process.

Melatonin and Functional Medicine

Are you wondering what to do if your child has been prescribed Melatonin as a long-term solution to sleep problems?

​Melatonin is helpful however it’s more appropriate to fix the cause of the sleep problem rather than just take melatonin long term.​ ​Diet and working with a Functional Medicine doctor will focus on fixing the sleep problem, so that your child can sleep long-term, naturally.

How is Melatonin Used Towards the End of the Healing Journey?

After the child (and family) is sleeping consistently and some other issues are resolved, some Functional Medicine doctors use small doses of melatonin to help with normalizing gut function again. ​This is towards the end of the healing journey to “fine-tune” certain biological processes.​

Working with a skilled Functional Medicine practitioner who can determine what YOUR child NEEDS is vital to healing.​

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