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Melatonin may worsen asthma symptoms, study finds

Experts say this could be why asthma sufferers report more severe symptoms at night

Melatonin supplements on bed
Photo (c) lanasphotos - Getty Images
While melatonin supplements are commonly used to help those who struggle to get quality sleep, a new study conducted by researchers from Tohoku University explored how the hormone may affect asthma symptoms. 

According to their findings, melatonin makes it harder for air to move to and from the lungs, and it can also weaken the effects of asthma medications. 

Melatonin may make it harder to breathe

For the study, the researchers analyzed the effects of melatonin on the airway. They looked specifically at the MT2 receptor, which is activated by the production of melatonin. The goal of the study was to see how the hormone receptor impacted asthma patients’ symptoms. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that consumers’ asthma symptoms get worse when the MT2 receptor is activated with high levels of melatonin. When more melatonin is produced, the pathway to and from the lungs is likely to become more constricted, which makes it more difficult to breathe. 

While this alone is a cause for concern, the study also showed that this relationship between melatonin and consumers’ airways can affect the body’s response to asthma medications. Consumers aren’t likely to get the same relief from their asthma medications – whether that’s a nebulizer, an inhaler, or a pill – when their airways are constricted.

“Although serum concentration of melatonin did not significantly induce the airway constriction, greater doses of melatonin, which is clinically used to treat insomnia, jet lag, or cancer, worsened asthma symptoms and impaired the therapeutic effect of bronchodilators,” said researcher Kentaro Mizuta. 

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