Having just witnessed a titanic battle for tennis pre-eminence if a singular hormone could wield a racket with the same mesmerising dexterity which one would be the most powerful of them all? Although this is a debate which is unlikely to occupy centre stage at most dinner tables when we reflect that the human race is locked in a fierce struggle with a relentlessly recalcitrant virus it might be worth considering the most potent weapons at our disposal. Unquestionably the award goes to a hormone that we make less of as we age, the more we expose ourselves to artificial light at night and the later we go to sleep. Aside from an extensive portfolio which includes treating jet leg and insomnia, boosting memory and preventing cancer, ameliorating Alzheimer’s and treating Parkinson’s, melatonin with the tennis maestro’s magical capacity to execute the seemingly impossible can also take down viruses.
In studies performed on animals and in test tubes melatonin has been shown to neutralize influenza virus, Ebola and a virus that causes encephalitis. With regard to Covid it has been shown in human trials to expedite hospital discharge and recovery to baseline health. Research is now underway to discover if it has any preventive potential but while we await these results going to bed earlier would be one strategy we could adopt to ace a foe that continues to stubbornly stalk our baseline.