Why is Melatonin banned in the UK?

10th December 2020

When you hear the word ‘banned’ you immediately think that something is either harmful or dangerous. In the world of pharmaceuticals, any medication that is banned is thought to be unsafe and a risk to your health, which of course is something to be avoided. It’s understandable to assume that as you cannot get Melatonin over the counter in the UK, you may jump to the conclusion that it is banned. However, it’s actually a different story, and a reassuring one to those who may seriously benefit from Melatonin and its many functions.


How can Melatonin help?

Melatonin is a hormone that occurs within the body. Melatonin is completely natural. Your brain produces melatonin naturally as a response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms, also known as your 24-hour internal clock. Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production. When you take melatonin supplements, they can help with certain situations and conditions, such as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, some sleep disorders in children, and anxiety before and after surgery.

Melatonin is especially effective in sufferers of insomnia that are aged over 55 years old, but can also be used to treat different conditions. In its synthetic form, melatonin is sold as Cicardin.

Can Melatonin help with jet lag?

With the excitement of travelling comes jet lag. This is particularly true if you have travelled very far. Jet lag affects many of us and it can leave us having digestive problems, making us irritable, as well as seriously disrupting our sleep. Travelling across multiple time zones can leave your body confused when you are sleeping, and can lead to you feeling like you need to stay awake for many more hours. This feels completely unnatural and goes against every instinct in your body.

Previously, Melatonin could be used to help alleviate the effects of jet lag. However, this is no longer the case. Melatonin is no longer regulated to treat jet lag, and is now instead primarily used to help people to get to sleep. Melatonin is especially effective at treating insomnia in people over the age of 55 and should not be used to help with the effects of jet lag.

Does Melatonin help delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)?

Those who suffer from DSWPD have a very hard time naturally falling asleep at a usual time, as well as waking up in the morning. On average, sufferers would rather wake up between 10am and 1pm, and will have difficulty getting to sleep before 2am. The use of melatonin on people with DSWPD has been extensively studied, with one trial consisting of 307 people and lasting 4 weeks. 

The study found that patients taking melatonin one hour before going to bed had several improvements. Some of the improvements noted include getting better overall sleep during at least a third of the night, managing to fall asleep around 34 minutes earlier, and functioning better during the day.

Does Melatonin help with sleep disorders in children?

Children who have trouble sleeping through the night will begin to see the effects trickle into their daytime behaviour. They can struggle with functioning throughout the day and may experience a lower quality of life. Some children can be prone to sleeping poorly, such as those who suffer from conditions such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism spectrum disorder.

Because there aren’t many studies conducted on children using melatonin supplements, there is still a lot we don’t know about how they could respond to this medication. For example, there are uncertainties about dosage and the effects of using Melatonin for a long amount of time. Because melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, it’s possible that melatonin supplements could clash with children’s hormonal development, affecting processes including puberty. Because of all of these uncertainties, it’s best to consult with a doctor/your local GP if your child is suffering from sleeping problems.

Sleep-wake phase disorder

Is Melatonin illegal to use?

Melatonin is not illegal to use in the UK. You can still acquire and use Melatonin happily with absolutely no legal ramifications. However, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has banned the high-street sale of it. Until 1995, Melatonin was sold in health food shops as a nutritional supplement. However, to obtain Melatonin in the UK, you must now have a prescription. Melatonin is now classified as a medication and is only available to purchase after receiving a prescription from a doctor or a registered prescriber.

The underlying point is that Melatonin is completely safe to use in the UK, it simply requires a prescription to acquire it. As previously mentioned, the way in which you can use Melatonin has changed. You will no longer be prescribed Melatonin in order to treat issues such as jet lag. Instead, Melatonin (Cicardin) is now especially used to treat insomnia in those over the age of 55. When you are using Melatonin for the first time, it may be best to use the smallest dosage available. Melatonin is also a slow-release medication. You should never cut cicardin (melatonin), as they are designed to release gradually throughout the night.  If you are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, then we are here to help as you can get a prescription and buy Melatonin online at UK Meds.