Critical reading of "Using melatonin for sleep is on the rise despite potential health harms" published by CNN on Feb1 2022 and promoted by American Medical Association (Melatonin, part3)
With a combined reach of several million people, CNN and AMA have a clear and present responsibility and they clearly have the personnel/staff and financial resources to avoid spreading misinformation
In February 2022, CNN published “Using melatonin for sleep is on the rise, study says, despite potential health harms” and the story was further distributed by the American Medical Association on social media for a combined reach of several million doctors, patients, and politicians. If the article is stupid fear-mongering that misleads doctors/patients/politicians away from a useful intervention, then the misinformation actively does harm to the public and should therefore be withdrawn, the record corrected, and apology issued. Again, with a reach of several *million* people, CNN and AMA have a clear and present responsibility to not spread misinformation. If they spread misinformation, then CNN and AMA are presenting a clear and present danger to the public health by virtue of their reach and social authority, misdirecting healthcare and self-care for millions of people.
With a combined reach of several *million* people, CNN and AMA have a clear and present responsibility and they clearly have the personnel/staff and financial resources to avoid spreading misinformation. If they spread misinformation, then CNN and AMA are presenting a clear and present danger to the public health by virtue of their reach and social authority, misdirecting healthcare and self-care for millions of people.
Hyperlinks to the original article and other important sources used in this critique are provided at the bottom of this page under “citations/sources.”
THE VIDEO on their page is nearly worthless and does not mention melatonin
Their accompanying video of 2min31sec is titled “These five tips will help you sleep better” and simply lists (nonverbally) tips for better sleep; it is elementary encouragement such as getting exercise, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, having a comfortable bed, avoiding big meals before bed, and the all-important keeping naps to less than 45 minutes during the day. It is 2min31sec of time wasted on a lost learning opportunity for most people.
THE ARTICLE is mostly innuendo, error, and fear-mongering
In the following review, I will quote THEIR MISINFORMATION (stronger) or MISDIRECTION (weaker) and then follow with MY CORRECTION:
THEIR MISINFORMATION: “More and more adults are taking over-the-counter melatonin to get to sleep, and some of them may be using it at dangerously high levels…”
MY CORRECTION: Melatonin is inherently safe as it is produced endogenously (within the body). If it were inherently dangerous, then all of us would already be dead or injured from it. I have been reviewing research for exactly 30 years as of this year (1992-2022) and I have never seen conclusive proof of any “danger” regardless of the dosage. Want to talk about dangers of treatments? Let’s compare melatonin against any best-selling drug and do a true analysis of risk and benefit and I guarantee you that melatonin will be proven to be safer and most likely more effective for a wider range of diseases.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: Meaningless references to elitist schools is invocation of the “appeal to authority” fallacy.
MY CORRECTION: They should stick to the facts and stop the theater.
THEIR MISINFORMATION/MISDIRECTION: “Experts worry that the pandemic's negative impact on sleep may have further increased the widespread reliance on sleeping aids.”
MY CORRECTION: This is the appeal to emotion (fear) fallacy + confusion of the topic wherein they are already trying to confuse the topic between melatonin and sedative drugs.
THEIR MISINFORMATION: "Taking sleep aids has been linked in prospective studies with the development of dementia and early mortality,
MY CORRECTION: They are talking about medical/pharmaceutical drugs here, but they are trying to confuse people by including that information under the title of the article mentioning melatonin.
THEIR MISINFORMATION: “Melatonin has been linked to headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, irritability and mild anxiety, depression and tremors, as well as abnormally low blood pressure. It can also interact with common medications and trigger allergies.”
MY CORRECTION: That’s a wild alphabet soup of accusations. This is the character assassination of melatonin. Note also “has been linked” implies that they are not referencing clear causality and evidence. They are stupid for describing melatonin as a sleep aid and then criticizing it for causing drowsiness when that it what a good sleep aid would do.
THEIR MISINFORMATION: “…long-term safety is unknown, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health
MY CORRECTION: Many long-term studies have been published. If they “don’t know” then it is because they are not reading the research and thus should defer from making authoritative statements to the public.
THEIR MISINFORMATION and MISDIRECTION: “Since 2006, a small but growing subset of adults are taking amounts of melatonin that far exceed the 5 milligram a day dosage that is typically used as a short term treatment.”
MY CORRECTION: The pharmaceutical versions of melatonin that are FDA approved are commonly only 2 mg. In Europe, pharmacies can only sell products with less than 2 mg. Neither 2 mg nor 5 mg can be considered high-dose.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: “Unlike drugs and food, melatonin is not fully regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration…”
MY CORRECTION: Drug approved by the US FDA kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, so using the US FDA as a standard of safety is absurd. They are attempting the “refutation by denigration” fallacy here.
THEIR MISINFORMATION: “People are using twice as much melatonin as they used to, sometimes at dangerously high levels.”
MY CORRECTION: Melatonin is not dangerous, period.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: “…unregulated, commercially available melatonin supplements… …harmful hidden additives…”
MY CORRECTION: More bullying and denigration. FDA-approved drugs and injections commonly have “harmful hidden additives.”
THEIR MISINFORMATION: “Previous studies also found 26% of the melatonin supplements contained serotonin, "a hormone that can have harmful effects even at relatively low levels," according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a department of the National Institutes of Health. Taking too much serotonin by combining medications such as antidepressants, migraine medications and melatonin can lead to a serious drug reaction. Mild symptoms include shivering and diarrhea, while a more severe reaction can lead to muscle rigidity, fever, seizures and even death if not treated.”
MY CORRECTION: Here they go off the rails. They are trying to say that contamination with serotonin is so common and is such a risk that the general public needs to know about this. FIRST, it is not common. SECOND, it is not a risk to the general public. THIRD, the amount that would qualify as a contaminant would not be sufficient to cause sustained serotonin syndrome, which is what they are alluding to in their description of “muscle rigidity, fever, seizures and even death.” At this point, their article is becoming pure theater targeting the fearful and ignorant—I don’t qualify as either of those so their strategy is inept and absurd.
Want to talk about dangers of treatments? Let’s compare melatonin against any best-selling drug and do a true analysis of risk and benefit and I guarantee you that melatonin will be proven to be safer and most likely more effective for a wider range of diseases.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: “experts say many people view melatonin as an herbal supplement or vitamin. In reality, melatonin is a hormone”
MY CORRECTION: Well, melatonin is found in many foods, so a person might therefore reasonably describe it as a nutrient. Their “experts” are boring and ignorant.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: “In reality, melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, located deep within the brain, and released into the bloodstream to regulate the body's sleep cycles.”
MY CORRECTION: That is true, but it is only 10% true. 90% of melatonin is made outside of the brain and has nothing to do with sleep.
THEIR MISDIRECTION: The rest of the article simply talks about “sleep hygiene” such as avoiding bright lights before trying to sleep, etc.
MY CORRECTION: Their article is the dumb and uninformed keeping the public dumb and uninformed. If I had a platform to reach millions of people, I’d give them real education and change the form and function of healthcare as widely as possible.
SUMMARY: Their article is mostly a waste of time filled with misinformation and misdirection whereas they could have used that time and space to actually educate people, rather than indoctrinate them and fatigue them with worthless pro-pharma information.
WANT TO CORRECT THE CORRECTOR? Send me any corrections with a good citation and I’ll make an update to the article and thank you when I post the correction.
As always, if you spot any typos then please let me know and I’ll make the fix! Just reply to the email newsletter.
FUTURE: Part6 in this series on melatonin is [available now] an audio-video showing the biochemical-physiologic functions of melatonin and why this nutrient-hormone-signal is of such importance as a clinical therapeutic.