Doctor's Note

The mention of kiwifruit is in reference to Friday's video of the day Kiwifruit for Insomnia.

I've previously explored Human Neurotransmitters in Plants in the context of boosting serotonin levels in the brain to improve mood. See:

Melatonin may also play a role in cancer prevention. See Melatonin & Breast Cancer.

Aren't goji berries really expensive, though? Not if you buy them as lycium berries. Check out my video Are Goji Berries Good for You?

For some context, please also check out my associated blog post:  Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions and Two Kiwifruit an Hour Before Bedtime and Foods with Natural Melatonin.

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  • Gregg Stern

    Shouldn’t the title be Gogi Berries & Raspberries for Insomnia? Was your point that these 2 should have even a bigger impact on sleep than tart cherries but tart cherries had the research?

    • Great question! If the reason tart cherries work is the melatonin content (as the researchers speculate) then indeed one would assume gojis and raspberries would work even better. But that’s a big if. We’re not sure why the tart cherries work. But fingers crossed Big Berry will fund some research and we’ll have your answer! :)

      • Gregg Stern


      • GreenSmoothie

        Dr G,
        The question about whether goji berries need to be fresh or will dried gojis work is valid. Any research on this?

        • Henry Wrage

          Dried cherries have zero melatonin, so dried gojis probably have near to zero values too.

      • AliceJ

        Great stuff! Thank you. If gojis have 15 melatonin micrograms an
        ounce, how many dried goji berries should one consume — pre-bedtime — to adequately boost brain melatonin levels? Thanks, again.

        • Henry Wrage

          Dried cherries have zero melatonin, so dried gojis probably have near to zero values too. pre-bedtime, yes.

      • mannat

        I second mister Greensmoothie. I would like to know if the goji berries would have melatonin in them when dried. Also if the melatonin is heat stable.

  • Cynthia

    But do dried goji have the high melatonin or only fresh? There was apparently none in dried cherries.

    • Goji girl

      Goji berry juice is brilliant, I have been drinking it for 7 years, the dried berries don’t have the active polysaccharides in them.

  • Terri

    Thanks for another great video! I’m curious as to the serving size of the “gold, silver, and bronze” of melatonin foods mentioned. Also, do you know if the sweet cherries tested were fresh whole cherries, or was it a sweet juice? Surprising they had “50 times less” melatonin than tart cherries. Sweet whole bing cherries a have worked wonders for me in the past! :)

  • ko

    “Now they couldn’t use whole cherries for the study, because how could you fool people with a placebo cherry? “…simple: order chinese cherries lol

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    What about calamine tea? It makes me tired. It also relaxes me too.

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    To do a placebo you could make two smoothies. One with cherries and one with something else, and then they might not be sure if it had cherries in. They then would not know if it would work or not. As long as both where a similar colour and a food was used to masks the taste of cherries. They would never be sure it had cherries in.

  • Thea

    A lot of people have smoothies for breakfast. Perhaps those with insomnia problems should try having their berry smoothies for dinner instead. Would be interesting to see what happens.

    Or maybe it doesn’t matter. I didn’t catch how long the extra melatonin stays in the body. So, maybe having it for breakfast is just fine.

    • veggivet

      You are better off getting your melatonin shortly before you plan on going to sleep.

      • Thea

        Thanks for the clarification! I’ll pass that on to a family member who has sleep issues.

  • Coacervate

    OK if that works for people great. I do wish to sound a warning because I suffer horribly with long stretches of wakefulness on alternate nights. I read about the decline in melatonin as folks enter geezerdom so I started taking 3 mg tabs. I immediately got soooo depressed I just knew it was the pill. I am normally quite giddy. In desperation I tried it again some weeks later and sure enough, the world turned grey and I had to stop even though I was sleeping soundly.

    FWIW, recently my sainted spousal unit forced me to do a 10 min workout she got off Dr Oz (whom I’ve seen but don’t trust). Anyway we are a week into it and I seem to be sleeping much better. I hate exercise but really this is quite painless and she always makes me laugh with the rabbit thing…you have to see it to understand but I still don’t. The back pain is better too. hmmmm.

    heres the link if you want to try it:

    • Coacervate

      Please diregard the second (bottom) url…I don’t know where that came from? looks phishy to me.

    • Lloyd

      Hey Coacervate,

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I take melatonin pills from time to time and have never experienced any mood changes or negative effects. I also read, “Melatonin: Nature’s Sleeping Pill” by Ray Sahelian (, and I found it an honest portrayal of this hormone pill: he listed both bad and good experiences, but they were overwhelmingly good. Some people close to me also use it from time to time and it works very well for them.

      However, I’m glad you found a different remedy regardless.

    • robert_canine

      I have lots of questions about melatonin’s safety and efficacy, but I would point out one thing about your experience. The amounts of melatonin in these fruits is tiny, yet supposedly effective, compared to what you took. Even the goji berries deliver only 15 micrograms per ounce of berries. But you were taking 3 mg (3000 micrograms) with one pill. That’s 200 TIMES the amount that they’re talking about from the most potent source.

      I really have to wonder if we are not overdosing on melatonin (and perhaps screwing up our sleep hormonal systems in the process) by taking such massive doses of it. I also sometimes wonder if my now-many-years-long battle with insomnia might have been triggered in this way, since melatonin was one of the first things that I tried when I first started having sleep issues, way back when.

  • BPCveg

    Dr. Greger,
    What if you added a section to NF with recommended meal plans and recipes, which could be linked to specific videos and blog entries. I am sure many of your followers would be interested in hearing how you put all this great science into practice. This could be a section of your website that you update regularly with new discoveries (e.g. eating cherries at the end of the day for better sleep).

  • lovestobevegan

    Berry Berry Good Karma Bowl

    – ½ cup regular rolled oats
    – 1 cup water
    – ½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
    – ⅛ tsp each, ground cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg
    – 1/3 cup raspberries
    – 1/3 cup blackberries
    – 1/3 cup organic* blueberries
    – 24 almonds
    – 2 tbsp flaxseed meal^

    Bring water to a boil and cook oats with spices and fruit (only if using frozen fruit). Lower heat and simmer oats to desired consistency. Add remaining ingredients to a bowl and top with cooked oats. Stir and top with a sprinkling of uncooked oats and dash cinnamon.

    *Conventional blueberries were found to have the residues of 52 different pesticides so choose organic.

    ^ Seeds need to be ground for proper digestion. A coffee or seed grinder works well or you can buy ground flaxseed meal.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  • Tom M

    Sleep doctors recommend melatonin some 2-3 hours before bedtime (in pill form). How long before bed should the raspberries / goji berries be consumed for effectiveness?

  • Liya

    Thanks for the video! I’m going to try Goji, I’m willing to try anything for my insomnia by now. But do you think dried Goji will do the trick? and how much of it?

  • Pizzicato

    If those foods can really rise your melatonin levels why do they not make you feel tired when they are eaten at daytime?

  • Noor Pekala

    Don’t know about the rest of the folks in this country but here in Californee ai ay no one ever hears of sour cherry unless it’s in a roll of life savers. I have lived for a while in Hungary where they have very real, killer 5 story sour cherry trees – mej (spelled there: megy), sour cherries they’re really a TINY bit sour or just taste ever so slightly different then regular cherries or cheresnee (spelled there: csereszni) like we have here. Now that’s the real Mc Coy, the genuine article, everyone talks about sour cherry but I can never find them! Where on earth besides Central Europe of course can a poor soul get fresh sour cherries here??? They’re to die for, I love ’em!!

  • PeggyL

    Dr. Greger, I missed this video when you first posted it, so I don’t know if/when you will see this response. I am very interested in melatonin, though. I have a 4 year old grandson with autism. It usually takes him several hours for him to finally fall asleep each night and he often wakes up afterwards. Naturally, this just exacerbates his autistic symptoms and he is so tired when he gets up in the morning and off to school — it is heartbreaking to see how he has to struggle so each day (not to mention the wear and tear on his parents). He has been on a casein and gluten-free diet for a couple of years now. He eats pretty healthfully, at least compared to his peers, but introducing new food to him can be more than a little challenging. Recently, my daughter began giving him a melatonin supplement. It has worked like magic. He takes his bath, they read him a couple of stories and he happily goes to sleep, sleeps through the night, wakes up happy and refreshed in the morning. This is a life-changing event for all of them. Are there side effects to a melatonin supplement that we should be concerned about? I would be interested in your thoughts about this or resources you might point us to. I am so afraid that this is too good to be true. Thank you so much for all you do.

  • ML

    Does almond milk have the same effect (melatonin) as whole almonds?

  • Emily Newman

    Really cool, I have heard of using melatonin to help fall asleep but never heard of berries helping. I also like to use a guided relaxation or sleep meditation if I’m having a hard time falling asleep for a nap or at night.

  • cyndishisara

    These doses seem awfully low. We in our cab driver house use melatonin spray which has 1.5 mg /spray. This helps onset of sleep and avoids the hangover effect of tablets. With the spray you can release a smaller shot if you like a half shot. But we are talking about 500-1000X difference. Amazing the difference.

  • Helyn

    I don’t see that Dr. Greger ever answered the question about whether or not dried goji berries also contain melatonin and, if so, how much in comparison to fresh. Was the study in the video done on dried or fresh? I have never even seen fresh goji berries so I’m wondering… thank you!

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi Helyn, The very last of the video talks about how much they do have! I have never had them fresh and I assume Dr. Greger means dried gogi berries. Hope that helps!


  • Sublingual melatonin works great for me, as well as tart cherry pills swallowed. Those are my two favorites when I need help and they make me feel really good while falling asleep too.

  • Wade Patton

    Wild raspberries are about to get ripe here in the South. SO much better than fruit factory berries and easier to pick than black berries. Go BERRIES!

  • Pat

    I’ve heard that melatonin can prevent cancer too. Are there any clinical studies that confirm this?

  • Lisa

    Does this mean that dried tart cherries don’t contain any melatonin? (These ones, for example: They are marketed by the brand as containing melatonin but the video seems to indicate that dried cherries don’t actually contain any melatonin. Thanks! Very informative video.

  • James Wald

    I have been suffering from severe chronic fatigue that seems to come and go every few weeks, lasting for 1-3 days at a time. I feel as though I am sleeping through the night, but I often wake up in the morning feeling exhausted, as though I didn’t sleep well.

    This video is somewhat surprising because I eat those top 5 foods (fenugreek & mustard seeds, almonds, raspberries, and goji berries) practically every day (we love cooking Indian food). I wonder whether these foods could be to blame for these debilitating episodes of fatigue. It seems like these foods should be helping, but maybe these frequent doses of melatonin are raising my levels too much during the day, preventing quality deep sleep throughout the night?

  • Hendrik

    The effect of melatonin in foods on nighttime levels (for sleep) is not so clear;- the bioavailability of melatonin in foods is low, and the half-life of melatonin in the blood is short (less than an hour). This study
    concludes that “the influence of daytime diet on the synthesis of nocturnal melatonin is
    very limited, however, the influence of diet seems to be more obvious
    on the daytime levels of melatonin.”
    Even the studies on the dietary effect on daytime melatonin levels are under doubt:-

  • Henry Wrage

    Where is the data on food content? I cant figure out the serving sizes for tomatoes, almonds, etc. (since there is no standard)