One reason melatonin may help alleviate depression is because it is produced by the same gland that produces seratonin – the Pineal gland. Seratonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of security, concentration, relaxation, general well-being and confidence. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that relays messages between nerve cells.
Some seratonin is converted by the body into melatonin. So if you are depressed and lacking enough seratonin in your body, this may cause a vicious cycle of lower melatonin levels as well. By maintaining high levels of melatonin, it may help your body conserve the mood enhancing seratonin so critical for alleviating depression.
People trying to stop taking Benzodiazepines – the anti-anxiety medications like valium and xanax – have found melatonin to help with sleep.
Melatonin is also one of the most powerful anti-oxidants, as powerful in its own way as other super antioxidants like alpha-lipoic acid or resveratrol. I will talk more about resveratrol – the new miracle super-antioxidant that has proven to extend the lifespan of laboratory animals by a massive 20%! – in another article.
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant in part because of its ability to pass the blood/brain barrier, meaning it has no problem entering and activating it’s healing powers in the brain, our most important organ. Many nutritional substances are too large molecularly to pass into the brain, and so have limited benefits. Your brain uses far more energy than any other organ, so most of the super-nutrients can pass the blood/brain barrier.
Importantly, melatonin has shown to have powerful cancer inhibiting properties. Many studies are underway now using melatonin to help treat cancer, and it has shown to be effective, particularly with breast cancer and prostate cancer. Of course, whenever you are trying to treat a disease as complex as cancer, a multi-faceted, synergistic approach is necessary. Don’t just rely on one supplement. That is true of general anti-aging as well.
Melatonin has demonstrated an ability to enhance special cells called osteoblasts that increase bone growth. Therefore, it is logical that melatonin would help prevent and treat osteoporosis, and studies are being conducted now (hint: they will show that it helps, at taxpayers expense of course).
High Blood Pressure
There is evidence that melatonin can slightly reduce high blood pressure. Lower levels of melatonin have been associated with people suffering from many forms of heart disease.
Dosage is generally .5 to 5 milligrams for normal sleep enhancement, usually increasing with age. Take 30-60 minutes before going to sleep, and many people prefer the slow, sustained-release form as it will help you sleep longer. If you feel groggy the next day take less.
Some people have reported increased dreaming with melatonin and sometimes even nightmares. We don’t know the reason for this but believe it is completely harmless (it may actually be healthy) unless it really disturbs you. Then you might want to consider taking the smallest dose possible to inhibit this side-effect.
Enjoy the healing benefits of melatonin with your family and loved ones. You’ll be glad you did.
Feel free to share your experiences with this super hormone in the comments below.