Melatonin is an endogenous indoleamine, produced mainly by the pineal gland. Melatonin has been proven to have chronobiotic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, anxiolytic and sedative properties. There are also experimental and clinical data supporting an analgesic role of melatonin. In experimental studies, melatonin shows potent analgesic effects in a dose-dependent manner. In clinical studies, melatonin has been shown to have analgesic benefits in patients with chronic pain (fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine). The physiologic mechanism underlying the analgesic actions of melatonin has not been clarified. The effects may be linked to G i-coupled melatonin receptors, to G i-coupled opioid μ-receptors or GABA-B receptors with unknown downstream changes with a consequential reduction in anxiety and pain. Also, the repeated administration of melatonin improves sleep and thereby may reduce anxiety, which leads to lower levels of pain. In this paper, we review the current evidence regarding the analgesic properties of melatonin in animals and humans with chronic pain.
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