Travel fatigue and jet lag are hot topics in travel- and aviation medicine.
In a related Blogpost on "Jetlag - what to do?" , Dr. Petar Denoble explains more about melatonin as well as other measures divers can take in alleviating the impact of jetlag. One of the possible remedies to jetlag is melatonin supplementation. However, supplementing melatonin is not as simple as counting sheep.

We therefore thought it might helpful for our DAN Southern African Members, to add some additional info regarding melatonin that are relevant to South Africans in particular:

Unlike in the USA, Melatonin is not available as freely in South Africa, nor in several European countries, without a prescription [1]. A recent article in the South African Medical Journal explains how and why Complementary Medicines are affected by new legislation [2]. Its primary use is for alleviating jet lag, and it should not be used indiscriminately for treating insomnia [3].  

The timing of ingestion is crucial, and there are several other areas of controversy regarding the routine use of melatonin that should be considered carefully [4],[5],[6].

Even flight crews are advised first to assess the safety of taking melatonin, while off flying duties, before taking melatonin to assist in restoring circadian rhythms disrupted by shift-work (see page 198 in the Designated Aviation Medical Examiner's Guide [7]).

Smaller and compounding pharmacies  (i.e., where medicines are also made up by the pharmacy rather than only being sold as commercially branded, off-the-shelf-products) are more likely to sell 3mg melatonin capsules – the recommended dose for jet lag – without the need for a prescription.

Want to know more? Read Dr Denoble's Blog post - FAQ on Jetlag - what to do recommendations on overcoming jetlag.

References with links:
[2] This article in the South African Medical Journal explains how and why Complementary Medicines are affected by new legislation:
[7] Medicine/Dames Guide.pdf (page 198)


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