Synthetic melatonin is chemically produced in the laboratory under controlled conditions. In the year 1958 melatonin was first isolated by A.B.Lerner. There are several ways to produce melatonin, one of which is by reducing 5-methoxyindole-3-acetonitrile with Sodium and Ethanol. The resulting product is then acetylated by using both glacial acetic acid and acetic anhydride. Most melatonin supplements sold in the United States are made from synthetic melatonin mixed with an inert carrier or binder. Generally, we would want to use natural melatonin because we always have the thinking that Natural means “Good”. But when we speak of natural melatonin, it means melatonin taken from the pineal glands of Cow. Melatonin coming from this source can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and abnormal proteins (prions) which maybe harmful to your body.
It is important to note that synthetic melatonin is chemically identical to the melatonin produced in our pineal gland. So chemically, speaking there is no difference between the two kinds of melatonin. What we get from the lab is pure melatonin without other impurities and most importantly, without biological contaminants.