People with fibromyalgia tend to have mood disorders and mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, which can diminish their quality of life.
They also have elevated levels of cortisol — a strong indicator of stress — and reduced levels of molecules that suppress inflammation and regulate mood.
There are no specific treatments for fibromyalgia, so patients use analgesics, sleep inducers, and anxiolytics that help reduce pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
Melatonin is a natural substance with anxiolytic and analgesic properties that also helps control sleep and mood disorders and reduces cortisol levels. It has shown positive results in fibromyalgia patients.
In this study, researchers evaluated whether different doses of melatonin had a positive effect on the quality of life, mood, pain, anxiety, and cortisol levels in people with fibromyalgia.
They evaluated 36 patients ages 40-60, all women suffering from fibromyalgia who were not undergoing physical or psychological therapies. Three patients abandoned the study.
The study lasted 110 days, starting with a 10-day baseline period during which patients did not receive any treatment, followed by five rounds of melatonin treatment.
During each round of treatment, patients took melatonin for 10 consecutive days and then a placebo for 10 days (washout period). For each round, researchers evaluated a different dosage of quick-release, plant-derived melatonin, taken as a pill 30 minutes before bed (3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 mg/day).
Every 10 days, patients completed surveys that helped evaluate their physical and psychological symptoms, pain levels, and mood, and submitted urine samples to measure cortisol levels. Questionnaires for assessment included the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Numerical Pain Scale (NPS), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a Visual Analog Scale (VAS), and the Short Form-36 Health Survey(SF-36).
Melatonin improved mood, pain levels, and quality of life and caused a slight reduction in anxiety. The best responses were obtained with the higher doses (9, 12 and 15 mg).
Patients also reported that the treatment improved their family and social relations, state of mind and fitness. These last two improved the most, with higher doses (12 and 15 mg/day) again showing the best response.
Cortisol levels decreased significantly when patients were treated with 9 mg of melatonin or more each day.
Other studies reported that melatonin in smaller doses for long periods of time improved fibromyalgia symptoms; however, “we observed beneficial effects of melatonin in a short period of time with the higher doses (10 days for each dose),” researchers stated.
They added that they “did observe slight dose-dependent improvements in some variables with lower doses, though these changes were not statistically significant. If we had administered the daily doses for a longer period, we might have observed significant changes at the lower doses. …
“The use of melatonin as an adjuvant therapy for the management of [fibromyalgia] symptoms may be recommended … administration of melatonin appeared to decrease the severity of some important [fibromyalgia]-related symptoms, such as low mood state, increased anxiety levels, high pain levels, and/or impaired quality of life.”