Your brain controls your body by synchronizing and directing the interaction between sensory organs, nerve cells, neurotransmitters and hormones. The medicines you take and the foods you eat may enhance or derail this complex balancing act. Sometimes two relatively safe substances taken together will affect your brain in unintended and potentially harmful ways. Always consult your physician before you combine a dietary supplement such as melatonin with any prescription or nonprescription drugs.
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Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland located in the brain. Melatonin acts upon special receptors in the brain to regulate your body's wake and sleep cycles. Although melatonin is a safe, natural sleep aid, MedlinePlus lists many potential drug interactions. Melatonin should be used cautiously with birth control pills, caffeine, fluvoxamine, diabetic drugs and anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. Consult your physician before you take melatonin supplements with any prescription or nonprescription drug.
Lexapro is a prescription drug used to treat depression. Its generic name is escitalopram. Lexapro treats depression by blocking the removal of the neurotransmitter serotonin from nerve-cell gaps called synapses. This leads to a prolongation and intensification of serotonin's antidepressant activity. Lexapro's side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, changes in sexual function, drowsiness, sweating, dizziness, heartburn, stomach pain, excessive tiredness, flu-like symptoms, visual and auditory hallucinations, fever, sweating and confusion.
Lexapro interacts with many different drugs, but no studies to date mention any drug interactions between Lexapro and melatonin or melatonin analogs such as ramelteon or agomelatine. A 2009 review published in the journal "Natural Medicine Journal," examined melatonin's documented drug interactions. The reviewers make no mention of interactions involving Lexapro or antidepressants. Lexapro's official prescribing information dated May 2011 does not include melatonin in its list of drug interactions. Melatonin does not interfere with cytochrome P4502D6, the enzyme that helps remove Lexapro from the body.
Lexapro and melatonin each have sedative effects that may be addictive when the two are combined. Increased sluggishness, drowsiness and dullness of mind caused by the mixture may put you at risk of injury due to falls or accidents from driving or from operating dangerous equipment. Finally, both melatonin and Lexapro may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood-thinning medications. Combining melatonin, Lexapro and these anticlotting drugs may intensify the interaction and increase the risk of excessive bleeding.
- MedlinePlus; Melatonin; December 2010
- "Journal of Psychopharmacology"; British Association for Psychopharmacology Consensus Statement on Evidence-based Treatment of Insomnia, Parasomnias and Circadian Rhythm Disorders; S.J. Wilson, et al.; September 2010
- "Natural Medicine Journal"; An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Melatonin Interactions by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration; Catherine Ulbricht, et al.; November 2009
- MedlinePlus; Serotonin Syndrome; Jacob L. Heller, MD; June 2010
- MedlinePlus; Escitalopram; May 2009
- Forest Laboratories, Inc.: Highlights of Prescribing Information
- FDA; Avoiding Drug Interactions; June 2011