All over the world, researchers are searching for a way to combat the COVID-19. In the midst of this pandemic, local doctor, Dr. Richard Neel, is hoping doctors and researchers will consider the anti-toxin and anti-oxidant effects that melatonin has. He believes it could be an effective weapon to fighting many illnesses such as pneumonia, and even the COVID-19 virus that is currently taking the world by storm. He is hopeful that melatonin can make a big difference right now if the medical community will give it a chance.
“I believe doctors need to start using melatonin to treat patients now, today, to save lives,” Dr. Neel says, “in conjunction with other treatment. I think it could keep a lot of people from having to go to the hospital as well. There’s enough research out there to prove it’s effective in fighting viruses like this. Further research could help tweak dosing, but melatonin is non toxic and available to everyone over the counter.”
Neel served on the team of chemical and biological weapons experts for the Pentagon from 1998-2003 and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Harvard. He is eager for the medical community to consider melatonin’s potential, start using it, and study it further.
“Melatonin is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-toxin, and I am convinced that it could be effective in treating both viral and bacterial infections. I think it could save a lot of lives, a lot of lives. My hope right now is that they will do more immediate research on how melatonin can help patients fight viruses like the COVID-19,” Neel said.
“Melatonin is an amazing compound—is the only anti-oxidant that gets into the nucleus of the cell—gets into the DNA of the cell and repairs DNA damage. (Toxins are what the bacteria and viruses release into your body that cause damage to cells).”
“Currently, researchers are studying the use of Chloroquine (an anti-malaria drug) which is showing promise in fighting COVID-19,” Dr. Neel said. “Everyone’s talking about chloroquine, which is a prescription drug.”
But, as he points out, “Melatonin is cheap and readily available over the counter, at any drug store…..So why haven’t more studies been done already?”
There have been a few eye-opening studies on melatonin, Neel says, and he points to a few of those studies as examples of melatonin’s potential.
“Studies of infants with sepsis have already shown that melatonin had a great effect on the rate of survival,” Dr. Neel said.
Studies on septic infants were conducted in 2001 and in 2018. The 2018 study of 40 neonates found “significant improvement in the intervention group” treated with both 20 mg of melatonin as well as traditional antibiotics.*
The 2001 study concluded in its abstract that “A total of 20 mg melatonin was administered orally in 2 doses…Three of the 10 septic children who were not treated died within 72 hours after diagnosis; none of the 10 treated with melatonin died.” **
Neel notes other illnesses in which melatonin has helped, including the anthrax attacks of 2001, when the now retired Air Force Colonel Dr. Neel was still working with a team of chemical and biological weapons experts in the US Pentagon.
“With pulmonary anthrax, by the time patients started showing symptoms it was often too late. But when given melatonin, it suppressed the toxins so much that the antibiotics could fight the infection,” Dr. Neel said.
He notes a personal case as well.
“I personally have seen melatonin help someone recover from severe, life-threatening MRSA Pneumonia, to recover. This person was on a ventilator in very critical condition,” Neel said. “MRSA Pneumonia is highly lethal. He was dying. The family began giving him a high dose of melatonin divided among 4 doses a day by mouth, and he made a great recovery within a couple days.”
“Another great thing about melatonin is that it can easily be taken by mouth in tablets that dissolve under your tongue. So even people on a ventilator, who are intubated, can take melatonin.”
Dr.Neel states that melatonin’s anti-toxin properties make it a good candidate for fighting both bacterial or viral infections.
“I think that melatonin will be equally effective in viral infections. There is a 2014 study that suggests melatonin is effective against SARS,” Neel said. ***
That study along with another 2004 study titled “Melatonin and Viral infections,” concludes that “the immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects of melatonin suggest this indole must be considered as an additional therapeutic alternative to fight viral diseases.” ****
Neel states, “I have read a lot of studies on melatonin which are slowly trickling out there. There are just not enough clinical studies that have been done yet, especially in adults. There are just some things in medicine that don’t get the publicity it needs to get to the doctors who are out there practicing medicine.”
“The side effect profile of melatonin is so minimal, I feel confident in saying it’s not going to hurt anything for doctors and researchers to try it,” Neel said.“You can bet, if I get this COVID-19 virus, I am going to be taking melatonin.”
Neel gives a little insight into the broadly used term “coronavirus.”
“There are certainly a lot of coronaviruses that have been around, some of them that cause common colds. But this is a different strain. If you actually look up the official name is SARS-2 COVID-19. SARS means severe adult respiratory syndrome. There was a SARS outbreak years ago, which we were successfully able to contain. The COVID-19 is another SARS, and it just wasn’t contained as well as the previous outbreak. For whatever reason,
this one wasn’t taken seriously and so it spread.”
“I know folks in Italy who are saying the outbreak there is worse than anything you can imagine. They are telling me it is even worse than what you are seeing on the news,” Neel said. “And there are younger people who are getting severely ill too. If you have a group of 100 people who are from 20-30 years old, and they all have the COVID-19, statistics show at least one of them will probably die, and another 5 or more are going to end up on a ventilator and permanent lung scarring. I did also see a report of a 14-year-old who died just the other day.”
More ways to fight viruses
Additionally, he states: “There are other things you can do to help protect yourself against viruses. Lots of studies how people who have good levels of Vitamin D-3 have fewer respiratory infections and illness like flu. Compounds called flavanoids are found in fruits and berries, and that can also help protect you. High dose Vitamin C is also a good anti-antioxidant.”
“If you do get the COVID-19, there’s pretty good evidence that you shouldn’t take inseds like Ibuprofen or Asprin. Take acetaminophen instead,” Neel said. “They are still trying to figure out exactly why that is, but inseds seem to make it worse.”
“I am really glad to see that a lot of people are taking the COVID-19 seriously, and of course the most effective way of fighting spread of the virus is to simply stay put. I am really hopeful that we are getting ahead of it, but only the time will tell as numbers roll in, whether enough people are heeding that advice.”
He encourages everyone to remember, the COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for quite a while. How long can the COVID-19 survive on a surface?
“It can definitely stick around for days,” Dr. Neel said. “I believe under the right circumstances, it can survive even longer. Plastic is the worst surface for spread of the virus, metal is the second worst, and then wood and cardboard are next in line.”
Think about that when you pick up a milk jug or cereal box at the grocery store.
“And think about that when you receive boxes and packages delivered to your home,” Dr. Neel said. “An ill worker delivering packages could infect a lot of people that they deliver to. It’s certainly better than going to the store and exposing yourself to everyone there, but remember to wipe down your packages and wash your hands too.”
This article is not intended to replace medical advice of your physician. Always check with your physician before starting a new medication.
An edit to this article was made on April 9, 2020.
Citations referred to in this article:
* (Beneficial effect of melatonin in treatment of neonatal sepsis, 2018)
El-Gendy, F. M., El-Hawy, M. A., & Hassan, M. G. (2018). Beneficial effect of melatonin in the treatment of neonatal sepsis. The journal of maternal-fetal & neonatal medicine : the official journal of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine, the Federation of Asia and Oceania Perinatal Societies, the International Society of Perinatal Obstetricians, 31(17), 2299–2303. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767058.2017.1342794
**(Effects of Melatonin Treatment in Septic Newborns, 2001)
Gitto, E., Karbownik, M., Reiter, R. J., Tan, D. X., Cuzzocrea, S., Chiurazzi, P., Cordaro, S., Corona, G., Trimarchi, G., & Barberi, I. (2001). Effects of melatonin treatment in septic newborns. Pediatric research, 50(6), 756–760. https://doi.org/10.1203/00006450-200112000-00021
*** (Melatonin on oxidative stress resistance to bacterial, parasitic and viral infections: a review, published in a journal called Acta Tropica/Elsevier, 2014).
Vielma, José & Bonilla, Ernesto & Chacín-Bonilla, Leonor & Mora, Marylú & Medina-Leendertz, Shirley & Bravo, Yanauri. (2014). Effects of melatonin on oxidative stress, and resistance to bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections: A review. Acta tropica. 137. 10.1016/j.actatropica.2014.04.021.
 ****(Melatonin and viral infections, published by Journal of Pineal Research, 2004).
Bonilla, Ernesto & Valero, Nereida & Chacín-Bonilla, Leonor & Medina-Leendertz, Shirley. (2004). Melatonin and viral infections. Journal of pineal research. 36. 73-9. 10.1046/j.1600-079X.2003.00105.x.