Melatonin is a methoxyindole synthesized within the pineal gland. The hormone is secreted during the night and appears to play multiple roles within the human organism. The hormone contributes to the regulation of biological rhythms, may induce sleep, has strong antioxidant action and appears to contribute to the protection of the organism from carcinogenesis and neurodegenerative disorders. At a therapeutic level as well as in prevention, melatonin is used for the management of sleep disorders and jet lag, for the resynchronization of circadian rhythms in situations such as blindness and shift work, for its preventive action in the development of cancer, as additive therapy in cancer and as therapy for preventing the progression of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Keywords: antioxidant agents; circadian rhythms; jet lag; melatonin; sleep.