By now most people have heard of melatonin and perhaps use or have used a supplement form to help them with sleep. While it is most commonly associated with sleep, what many people don’t know is that melatonin also has a myriad of other health benefits ranging from alleviating depression to strengthening the immune system to protecting against cancer and heart disease.
What is melatonin? For those who are new to the information, melatonin is a chemical hormone produced by the pineal gland. It plays an important role in the regulation of sleep cycles. Melatonin is released at night in response to the change of light. As the sun goes down, light receptors in the eyes detect the darkness and send signals to the brain telling the pineal gland to begin producing melatonin which is what makes us begin to get sleepy and feel ready for bed. Throughout the night melatonin continues to be released in increments to keep us asleep. This may seem like no big deal, but did you know that melatonin also plays a huge role in the body’s physiological functions? That means that when you are not getting proper sleep, not only are you crabby in the morning, but many of your organs and other bodily functions are suffering on a chemical level.
So what’s the problem? Even though our bodies naturally produce melatonin, modern day factors are damaging that process if we are not mindful. We are living in a time where it is “normal” to work 8-12 hour days in an office underneath fluorescent lighting, staring at computers and then going home to spend a good majority of the rest of our days staring at smartphones, flat screen televisions, and more computers. The artificial lights from these devices are greatly responsible for the decrease in our natural melatonin production because the unnatural blue and white lights that come from these devices trick our brains into believing that it is daytime and therefore cause our pineal glands to stop producing melatonin. In addition to the artificial light damaging our body’s natural cycles, stress, medication, EMF’s, nutrition-less diets, lack of physical activity, and poor bedtime routines are also largely responsible. For a short time a lack of sleep doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the problem is that this easily becomes a habit and long term the effects of not producing enough melatonin are detrimental to your health. The short term effects begin with anxiety, depression, fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, inability to focus, insomnia, restlessness, poor digestion, poor circulation, breakouts and the list goes on. Long term, the effects can turn into severe depression and anxiety, ADHD, poor immune function, blood pressure and blood sugar instability, major digestive disorders such as leaky gut, reproductive diseases, plague and degeneration of brain tissues, Alzheimer’s disease, nervous system diseases, heart disease, and accelerated cancer cell growth.
Why should I consider taking melatonin? In addition to regular exercise, a good bedtime routine, and a nutrition rich diet, studies have shown that melatonin supplementation may effectively restore balance to your body and its natural cycles. Melatonin is an incredible antioxidant. It travels throughout the body scavenging free radicals while protecting and repairing damaged cells. Melatonin diffuses easily into all cells and is even able to cross the blood brain barrier meaning that it is able to get into the brain and spinal cord, which is what has lead researchers to believe in its ability to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that people with diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and who have suffered a stroke have low levels of melatonin. Adding a melatonin supplement in these cases was shown to reduce brain inflammation and repair and protect the neurons from deterioration.
There’s more! If what you’ve read so far about the benefits of melatonin has peaked your interest here are some of the other amazing ways that melatonin can improve your health…
- Melatonin receptors are found all over the body, especially in the ovaries, intestines, blood vessels, and brain. Adding melatonin supplementation to your routine can help protect all of these functions from damage and repair damage that has already been done.
- Reduces inflammation in the body, especially in the brain and may help regrow new neurons.
- Slows down the division of cancer and tumor cells throughout the body, especially in sex hormone cancers by cutting down estrogen’s inclination to increase cell growth. (Studies have shown that melatonin has a balancing effect on reproductive hormones explaining why it seems to protect against cancers of the reproductive organs such as ovarian, endometrial, prostate, testicular and breast).
- Balances ALL hormones in the body. (Hormones are not limited to reproductive organs. They’re responsible for a majority of the body’s major functions including kidney function, digestion, immune etc.).
- Strengthens the immune system and increases the production of immune system substances.
- Helps counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy. (In a study of patients undergoing chemotherapy the results showed that the patients given a 20mg dose of melatonin at night showed a higher rate of survival than those who were not. In addition the patients given melatonin showed a significant reduction in side effects of chemotherapy including heart damage, mouth sores, fatigue, anxiety, decreased blood platelets, and neuotoxicity).
- Helps with symptoms and effects of drug withdrawal.
- Reduction and prevention of migraine headaches.
- Increased mental clarity and focus.
- Improved quality of sleep
And the list goes on …
All things considered, remember that supplementation of any kind is not intended to replace a nutrient rich diet, exercise, good self-care and healthy living habits, but instead it is meant to supplement what is lacking from your current routine until you can get to where you need to be. Keep in mind that every single person’s body is unique and requires different things for their own perfect health. Don’t take anything you read at face value. Do your research, find alternate sources of information, and try many different avenues until you find the one that works for you. That applies to not only to your physical health, but also to your mind and soul. Well wishes on your journey of being your best you…
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***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.