Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, a small cone-shaped structure in the center of the brain. Melatonin is a hormone produced similarly to other so-called anti-aging hormones like the growth hormone (HGH) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These hormones are produced in abundance until after puberty, where their production begins to slow steadily as we age.
Melatonin and Sleep: Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour time-keeping system that plays a critical role in determining when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin while light suppresses its activity. Exposure to excessive light in the evening or too little light during the day can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles. In addition, some experts claim that exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields (common in household appliances) may disrupt normal cycles and production of melatonin. At this point all research and anecdotal evidence indicate that melatonin supplementation is an effective side effect free sleep aid for adults, children and for those suffering with autism, epilepsy, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other problems that can cause sleep disorders.
Melatonin Breast and Prostate Cancer: The less melatonin in the body the higher your chances of getting breast cancer. This was discovered when it was learned that women who worked night shifts had a significant increase in breast cancer. Men who work night shifts also suffered a higher incidence of cancer. A three hundred percent increase in prostate cancer in night working men.
What is the Connection Between Melatonin Production and Cancer. A study which linked melatonin to the inhibition of an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme is used by both men and women to make estradiol and other estrogens. High aromatase equals high estrogen content which can be a factor in cancer. The link was further bolstered by exposing cancer cells to melatonin-rich and melatonin-poor blood. As suspected, the melatonin-poor blood allowed free growth of cancer cells while melatonin-rich blood inhibited the growth rate.
Melatonin and Anti-aging: Research with old male rats who had poor appetite, no sexual drive, and scruffy fur had their pineal glands exchanged with the pineal glands of young rats. Within ten days an astounding transformation occurred: the old rats grew shiny fur, had great appetite, and chased female rats whenever the opportunity presented itself. The young rats aged at a rapid pace and looked and acted like old rats.
A powerful antioxidant as effective as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Melatonin is known to help prevent hypertension and heart attack, and help reduce the risk of cancer. It is believed that as melatonin levels drop aging speeds up. Melatonin can stimulate the immune system, and lead to the balance of hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and other hormones. Melatonin is also related to the cyclical response of the body to the fall of darkness at the end of each day. Melatonin keeps our body in sync with the rhythms of day and night and helps us sleep.
How Much Melatonin Should I Take: There are over 6,000 published studies on the use of melatonin and the general consensus is that it is safe in almost any dose although the accepted daily dose is about 3mg. Doctor Donsback states he personally takes 9mg and all his cancer patients take 50mg every night. There are about 2% of the population who react opposite to everyone else to melatonin; they are stimulated by its use. These people should take melatonin in the morning. The young should be making all the melatonin they need but if they are experiencing difficulties sleeping it would be prudent to try melatonin.
Sublingual (dissolves under the tongue) is the best form, quickly absorbed. When you wake up the next day you should feel refreshed-not tired or groggy. As with all supplements, check with your physician before using.