Review Article

Does Melatonin Have Therapeutic Use in Tinnitus?

Authors: Leah Merrick, RN, Dima Youssef, MD, Michelle Tanner, MS IV, Alan N. Peiris, MD, PhD


Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, may be a promising treatment option for tinnitus. The primary functions of this hormone are believed to be the initiation and maintenance of sleep because its secretions coincide with circadian rhythms. Some
investigators have noted that melatonin may alleviate subjective symptoms of tinnitus. Moreover, melatonin may have properties protective against ototoxic drugs such as amikacin, gentamicin, or cancer therapeutic agents that are dose dependent. In vitro, melatonin has demonstrated antioxidative properties and it has been postulated that these antioxidative properties contribute to the alleviation of tinnitus. Melatonin levels used to obtain these findings in vitro, however, are at supraphysiologic levels; therefore, it is more likely that the benefits from taking supplemental melatonin occur from minimal antioxidative properties, sleep enhancement, or other potential methods of action that are not yet understood. Melatonin offers minimal risk of toxicity with modest daily doses such as 1 to 3 mg, as well as a low cost and favorable adverse effect profile for older adults. In addition to potential benefits in the treatment of tinnitus, melatonin also may have beneficial neurogenerative properties. We recommend that melatonin be considered for use in patients with significant tinnitus.

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