Availability of Melatonin Tablets for Jet Lag


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If you are travelling across time zones the prospect of having to spend a couple of days in the characteristic lethargy and sleeplessness of jet lag will be an unpleasant one, but fortunately there are solutions which you can pursue to prevent the onset of this particular condition. A popular option is that of Melatonin tablets which provide an artificial source of a hormone disrupted by this type of long distance travel. In this article we look at the availability of this solution to jet lag here in the UK.

Where Melatonin Can be Available from

Melatonin is a hormone with vital roles in regulating our body clock, the biological mechanisms by which our body regulates day-night cycles. When we travel across time zones, this light sensitive system is disrupted, and the quantities of hormones like melatonin which indicate to our bodies whether it is day or night are disrupted. Melatonin therapy for jet lag is based on artificially regulating the levels of this hormone in such a way that the body adjusts to what can be an otherwise uncomfortable and tiring transition from one time zone to another.

In the UK melatonin is only available through a prescription offered by your GP. This is because at the moment the evidence supporting melatonin’s use in the treatment of jet lag is not convincing enough to persuade health authorities in the UK to license the drug for the treatment of jet lag. Moreover we have limited information on how effective melatonin can be when given to this end, and what potential side effects melatonin administration can have in the long run.

Drug regulation is a serious consideration here in the UK, and indeed most other parts of the world, because of the potential consequences of licensing a drug which has not been thoroughly examined for effectiveness and safety. Until there is a solid body of evidence supporting melatonin’s use as a jet lag therapy, the drug will not be licensed.

That  being said, the fact that melatonin is available via prescription as an unlicensed drug does indicate the fact that the drug is, according to evidence to hand at present, safe and can potentially benefit travellers looking to avoid jet lag. Whether or not a doctor prescribes the treatment will depend on his or her experience with the drug and its effects. If your doctor thinks you can benefit from having melatonin for jet lag, then he or she will be likely to prescribe it.

Fortunately the positive side of this is that your doctor will also be able to tell you if the treatment isn’t suitable for you. There are certain contraindications for the use of melatonin, and your doctor will be able to advise you if you are not suited to the treatment. Moreover your doctor can also give you invaluable advice about other measures you can take to help you adjust to jet lag.


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