Mayors in two Massachusetts cities want to ban Lazy Cakes, brownies laced with the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, because the psychedelic packaging with a cartoon brownie may be enticing to children, according to news reports.
Lazy Cakes, sold at some convenience stores and online, are touted on their website as “a delicious, chocolate alternative to medication and harmful narcotics to help you safely relax and fall asleep.”
The active ingredient, melatonin, is certainly a relaxer—the hormone is naturally produced in the body and is made synthetically as a supplement for sleeping disorders.
Medline Plus sums up the supplement’s uses:
“People use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle.”
The site also breaks down those conditions for which the supplement is likely to work – and those for which it’s unlikely to work. Don’t bother taking it for depression, for example, as it might make symptoms worse.
The body typically produces less than 0.3 milligrams of the hormone each day, according to a University of Maryland Medical Center overview of melatonin.
For adults with insomnia, taking 1 to 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour before bedtime is usually enough for improved sleep, and even 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams may be enough, according to the site.
To put the latest controversy in perspective, one Lazy Cake brownie—two servings—has about 8 milligrams of melatonin.
Though melatonin is sometimes used for children with autism spectrum disorders, the University of Maryland guide has this to say about melatonin and children:
“Always ask your doctor before giving melatonin to a child. Keep doses to less than 0.3 mg/day. There is not enough information to say that doses greater than 0.3 mg per day are safe in children under age 15.”
One Lazy Cake brownie has nearly 27 times that dosage—a fact that hasn’t helped some Massachusetts city officials to relax.
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