Melatonin vs. Valerian vs. Serotonin

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Difference between Melatonin, Valerian and Serotonin

In the quest for alternative medications and treatment options, a host of supplements have cropped up on the market, with products based on melatonin, valerian and serotonin being among the most publicized ones. What are these products and just what can they do for you? Let's take a look!

Definition

Melatonin is a compound that occurs naturally in various animals, plants, and microbes. The level of melatonin in an animal’s body varies throughout the day, causing the occurrence of various biological functions.

Valerian is a plant that is characterized by pink or white flowers. The plant blooms from June to September in the northern hemisphere, and its flowers have been used for scents from as far back as the sixteenth century.

Serotonin is a compound that belongs to the category of monoamine neurotransmitters. It is derived from tryptophan and is mainly found in the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system of both humans and animals. Serotonin is known to provide a feeling of well-being.

Usage

Melatonin based products have been sold as over-the-counter medications in the United States prior to 1994. The substance is prohibited in many other parts of the world however, particularly in Germany. In countries were melatonin is allowed, its distribution is dependent on a prescription.

Valerian is used in a variety of herbal supplements that are manufactured from the plant’s roots. After undergoing maceration, trituration and dehydration procedures, the resulting substance is sold in capsule form. Valerian is thought to have sedative and anxiolytic effects.

Serotonin belongs to the category of medications that affect the 5-HT system. This category includes certain antidepressants, as well as antipsychotic, anxiolytic, and antimigraine medications.

Precautions

There are very few side effects associated with the use of melatonin, and many people are able to take it safely in low doses for as long as three months. In some people however, melatonin may cause headaches, nausea, grogginess and/or irritability. Other users also report experiencing dreams and/or nightmares. Those with immune system problems may experience worsened symptoms.

Valerian is also generally free from side effects, although some people have reported stomachache, apathy, and impaired mental function with large doses. Valerian may also cause dizziness or drowsiness, and even anxiety in some people.

Large doses of serotonin can cause a potentially serious condition called serotonin syndrome. This is a condition wherein toxic levels of the substance are present in the body, and symptoms may vary widely from individual to individual.

Similarities and Differences

Melatonin

  • A compound that occurs naturally in various animals, plants, and microbes
  • Prohibited in many other parts of the world

Valerian

  • Used in a variety of herbal supplements that are manufactured from the plant’s roots
  • Thought to have sedative and anxiolytic effects

Serotonin

  • A compound that belongs to the category of monoamine neurotransmitters
  • Is mainly found in the gastrointestinal tract, and the central nervous system of both humans and animals

Which one do you need most?
  • Melatonin
  • Valerian
  • Serotonin
 
 

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • Colin Ferguson wrote on December 2010

Good article. Solid comparison. In Canada Melatonin is sold without prescription. The best way to get it is the thin strips that you put under your tongue. You know, like breath mints, ... but ones that help you sleep. Speaking of Canada and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, this time of the year there is little sun here, and a great time for anyone to boost with some nighttime serotonin. It helps me get rid of the winter blahs!

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