Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have discovered that the hormone cortisol is vital for regulating circadian rhythms in the body. By manipulating this hormone, scientists feel they can develop a pill to cure the dreaded jet lag.
Lead researcher Dr Gregor Eichele and his team have found that a substance called metyrapone, a medication that is already available, was able to control the troughs and peaks of cortisol levels in mice and thus help the body regain the natural balance.
"By shifting this cortisol peak to an earlier/later time one can alleviate jet lag in our mouse model and that strategy may also work in the case of humans," Dr Eichele said. "We would want to develop a pill that one would have to take a day or so before travelling."
Dr Eichele added that it was important to see that the pill did not have any side effects as jet lag already leads to loss of appetite and insomnia.
The findings of the study appear in the journal Neuron.