Melatonin and your Health: 11 Factors You Ought to Know. Guest Post by Clare Kelway

Have you ever found yourself tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep?  Melatonin may be just what you need to help you dose off naturally.

We can get melatonin at any health food or vitamin store without a prescription.  But this article tells us much more about melatonin.  It seems to do much more for our body than merely help us to sleep.  Please enjoy this informative blog post by my blogging colleague Clare Kelway.

Melatonin and your Health: 11 Factors You Ought to Know

by Clare Kelway on November 27, 2012

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:SbroolsWhat is melatonin?

Melatonin is a super hormone that is made in the pineal gland.   The pineal gland is a pea-sized gland in the brain.  Small amounts of melatonin are produced by the bone marrow cells.  Once synthesized, they are released into the blood stream.  Lots of Melatonin is also made in the gut ( digestive system – see below).

Melatonin is a signaling molecule.  A signaling molecule is a chemical involved in transmitting information between cells.  So think of melatonin as an instructor telling various cells what to do.  And if you don’t have enough of this vital hormone being produced, you are going to have communication issues in your body so read on……..

Melatonin is also an antioxidant that mops up free radicals.  And we love antioxidants – they protect you from the toxicity of modern living!

Firstly, Melatonin is  known as the hormone that regulates your sleep.  It runs your circadian rhythm – cycle of wake and sleep –  from the pineal gland.   Light exposure reduces it and darkness increases it.  The melatonin cycle runs approximately from 4 pm in your time zone to 4 am in your time zone.  If it is working well, you will enjoy 7 – 8 hours of peaceful sleep per night during which time your body is performing many functions of repair and restoration.

Melatonin and sleep Issues….

If you work shifts your natural sleep cycle will be off and your melatonin production will be affected.  Folks suffering from insomnia are likely to have a melatonin imbalance.  I have come across many folks who wake at 4 am and can’t get back to sleep.  This is usually a melatonin issue.

Melatonin and Jet Lag….

When we travel across time zones, our natural sleep rhythms are affected.  You will arrive in a new country on a completely different time zone and unless you help your adaptation with melatonin supplementation, it is likely to take a few days for your melatonin cycle to catch up to the new time zone.  It has been discovered that for every hour time change, it actually takes your body 1 day to catch up so if you have traveled to a country of 10 hours time difference, you can expect it to take 10 days to adapt!  Wow – no wonder you feel wobbly and strange!

Melatonin and Depression….

Melatonin is made from serotonin which is known as the happiness hormone.  Obviously when you are not sleeping well and suffering, you are going to feel depressed.  It has been shown in studies that taking melatonin can affect anti-depressants so please consult with your medical doctor if you are suffering with depression and want to supplement melatonin.

Melatonin and Fibromyalgia….

A study has shown that supplementing melatonin can help people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  When you are suffering with fibromyalgia, you suffer pain and sleep issues.  It is thought that the melatonin helps with sleep and fatigue enabling your immune system to work better.

 Melatonin and Digestive System….

Most people are surprised to learn about the link between the digestive system and melatonin. The digestive system makes 400 to 500 times more melatonin than the pineal gland!  I am known as the ‘gut lady’ in my holistic health practice because I will always start with the gut when looking at any health problem.  If you don’t heal the gut, you won’t be healing the overall health challenge.  There is almost always a digestive tract link in any health challenge.   Research has shown that melatonin protects against indigestion, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, and lesions in the esophagus. It also helps treat irritable bowel syndrome. Melatonin is produced in  specialized cells of the gastrointestinal tract as well as in the pancreas and the liver.

Melatonin and Immune System….

Melatonin is the gut is involved with protecting the immune system against invaders such as bacteria, viruses, amoeba and fungi.

Melatonin and Inflammation….

As a powerful antioxidant, melatonin helps control free radical activity and modulate inflammation.  It helps to regulate inflammatory levels in the gut.

Melatonin and Female Hormones….

Melatonin helps to control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause).  This is why women who fly often across time zones and suffer repeated jet lag, can stop menstruating and start having hormonal imbalances.  Over a long period of time this can become a chronic problem meaning that it does not self correct without specific intervention.

 

Melatonin and Breast Cancer….

Several studies suggest that low melatonin levels may increase the risk of breast cancer. Women who are suffering with breast cancer tend to have lower levels of melatonin than women who don’t have breast cancer.  There have been lab tests that have discovered that low levels of melatonin can stimulate the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells.  If you add melatonin to these cells, it slows their growth.  Of course, any use of melatonin must be supervised by your medical doctor who will determine what is safe for you to take.

 

Melatonin and Prostate Cancer….

Studies have shown that men suffering with prostate cancer have low levels of melatonin.  Again, these are abnormal cells and they appear to grow when there is little melatonin.  Adding melatonin to these cells in a lab environment, it has been shown to curb their growth.

Melatonin and Aging….

Melatonin is known as a super hormone because of its effect in so many areas of our health. It appears that melatonin levels affect our aging.  Children have the highest levels of melatonin and they decline as we age.  If we are able to maintain good levels of melatonin, then we age less rapidly and reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s, stroke and certain cancers.

8 comments

1 Donna Merrill { 12.19.12 at 4:59 pm }

Hi Dr. Erica! Thank you for having Clare guest posting!
Clare,
I have taken Melatonin for sleeping issues a while back and it worked well. I had no idea of the benefits! As I read this post, I kept saying to myself “Yes, I need that” I fit into most of the categories.
I’m thrilled to find out it is not only for sleep issues. And convinced that I can make it part of my daily dose! I do take Vitamin C, and D because of light deprivation. After reading this, adding Melatonin can help me with the other issues I’m dealing with.
Thanks so much,
Donna
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2 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 12.20.12 at 12:31 am }

Donna,

I was just as happy to discover that melatonin provides so much more than just a good night’s sleep. I am now adding it into my daily routine.

Warmly,

Erica

3 Justin { 12.21.12 at 4:13 am }

Hi Dr. Erica and Claire,
I know the pineal gland tends to calcify in some people and this would decrease its effectiveness.

I wonder if Celiac disease or gluten intolerance would affect melatonin in the body as well?

It seems the body is often under attack on many different levels and I can see how a Melatonin deficiency would affect the well being of a person.

Take Care.
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4 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 12.21.12 at 4:26 am }

Justin,

It was a surprise to me that melatonin has so many health benefits. I have been taking it every night since reading Clare’s post.

Warmly,

Dr. Erica

5 Marissa { 01.03.13 at 1:26 am }

My father has the same problem. 🙁 But I guess he is more concern about flu than his prostate. He keeps reading this site http://www.flu2013.com/ as he learns a lot of things about virus and infections but I think he should also read your site more. Thanks for this post.

Cheers!
Marissa

6 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 01.03.13 at 2:59 am }

Marissa,

Check out this site. My Chaga< /strong>
Chaga is a natural mushroom extract with so many ingredients that keep your body balanced and your immune system healthy.
Melatonin is also a powerful helper for maintaining optimum health.

Warmly,

Dr. Erica

7 Aras Androck { 03.13.15 at 5:08 pm }

So how do I increase my melatonin then?
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8 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 03.13.15 at 5:52 pm }

Aras,

Here are a few quick and easy ways to increase your melatonin.
1. Keep your room dark when you sleep at night.
2. Spend some time every day in direct sunlight.
3. Add melatonin boosting food to your diet (oats, corn, rice, barley, ginger, tomatoes, bananas) and make sure you get enough calcium and magnesium.
4. Take a melatonin pill (preferably sublingual – under the tongue) 30 minutes before going to sleep at night.
5. If possible, avoid prescription medicines that inhibit malatonin production.

Warmly,

Dr. Erica

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