What is Melatonin?
- A lipophilic hormone secreted by the pineal gland(a tiny endocrine gland situated at the center of the brain)
- A derivative of the amino acid, tryptophan
- One of the principle central nervous system "neuromodulators"
- Mainly produced and secreted at night
- It is produced in the greatest amounts in young children, and levels decrease as you age.
- When we are exposed to light, melatonin levels drop, when our environment is darker, melatonin levels are elevated.
However, a 2008 study published in Pineal Research showed that bone-marrow cells also produce melatonin and that the melatonin level in these cells is unrelated to sleep activity. This suggests that melatonin might have other uses in your body. Other mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians also produce melatonin, and oats and rice contain small quantities of natural melatonin.
What are the functions of Melatonin in the body?
- Controls circadian rhythm (awake/sleep cycle),
- Regulates activities of other hormones in the body (especially the sex hormones)
- Delays some effects of aging
- Assists in coping with stress
- Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Healing and anti-oxidant properties
- Protects against free radical damage
Healthy young and middle-aged adults usually secrete about 5 to 25 micrograms of melatonin each night.
New indicators are showing that Melatonin may play an even more important regulatory function in the digestive system.
Many experts consider the human digestive system as the '2nd Brain,' due to its capability to produce neurotransmitters. The digestive system also works with similar rhythmic patterns as brain waves. In fact, the digestive system has more advanced communication network than the brain.
- Melatonin appears to play a very important role in managing these patterns in both the brain and gut. There is plenty of melatonin in the digestive system; 400 times more than in the pineal gland. Melatonin is produced in specialized cells called enteroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).
- Melatonin appears in all portions of the GI tract as well as in the pancreas and the liver. The mucosal membranes of the gi tract are filled with microbes. Most of these microbes undergo interaction process (symbiosis) with the host individual (the larger microbes). These bacteria excrete endotoxins throughout the day. When the accumulated endotoxins reaches a critical level, an immune response is triggered guided by cytokine interleukin-2. Sleep is the immune response.
- This sleep process starts with the production of melatonin from the pineal gland. In the middle of the night, the hormone prolactin is secreted in large amounts.
- Then, melatonin works with prolactin to stimulate an immune reaction which flushes out microflora to provide the body a healthy balance. They also aim on viruses, pathogenic bacteria, man-made chemicals and foreign proteins in the body.
This whole process acquires 8 hours for the needful amount of melatonin and prolactin production to arise. With inadequate sleep, these hormones are unable to improve immunity thus couldn't get rid of the microflora and other toxins in the gastrointestinal system. So, if we are unable to get enough sleep, we are actually destroying our own immune system leading to disabled T cell and natural killer cell formation.
- Melatonin is an important regulator of motility and inflammation in the gi tract.
- Melatonin, with its strong antioxidant properties, regulates inflammation with its capacity to limit free-radicals and proinflammatory (promoting inflammation) molecules.
- Melatonin also influences intestinal bacteria and T-helper cell production.
- Melatonin helps to make microcirculation better throughout the gi tract which aids in cultivating epithelial regeneration (renewal of tissues).
- Melatonin maintains glutathione levels and prevents lysosomal enzyme disruption. This is extremely important because, increased inflammatory levels in the bowel lead to leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, auto-immunity, etc. When we sleep, the brain produces 90 minute cycles of slow wave sleep. Followed by sections of rapid eye movement (REM) where dreams occur. During the night, the gi tract also produces 90 minute slow wave muscle contractions, followed by short burst of rapid movement. If the gut is full at night, it can disrupt this process. Also, poor sleep cycles severely affect digestive function and the healing process within the gi tract.
- Melatonin was shown to significantly lower the rate of proinflammatory cytokine release, cell apoptosis, and overall colonic injury. This is due to the improved blood flow, immunomodulation and anti-oxidant effects.
Healthy bacteria and T-helper cells help to balance the immune system and to regulate inflammatory levels.
What is proinflammatory cytokine?
Cytokines are molecules of protein that help regulate the body's immune response to infections and trauma. Some promote the healing of wounds, while others, such as proinflammatory cytokines, increase inflammation and can cause diseases to progress.
What is cell apoptosis?
Cell apoptosis is refers to normal death of the cell in living organisms.
In conclusion, sleep and digestive function have a very friendly relationship and this relationship has an impact to the overall function of the immune system.
Melatonin loses some of its effectiveness as we age. Our receptors for that neurotransmitter don't create the same power from the dose of melatonin they receive. In fact, melatonin production is up to the maximum around the age of 5 and starts declining onwards.
Unfortunately, we lose up to 80 percent of those levels by the time we reach 60. And that is why we suffer from age related sleep and other health problems.
What are the symptoms of melatonin deficiency?
- Keep in mind that melatonin deficiency is not always genetic, it can also be due to poor diet and excessive light exposure such as not turning off the lights at night, or leaving a bright TV on.
- Difficulties in falling back to sleep when awaken during the night
- Easy waking during the night
- Un-refreshing sleep
- Lack of dreaming
- Family history of insomnia
- Personal or family history of breast cancer
- Personal or family history of prostate cancer
- Prostate enlargement
- Fatigue, irritability and poor concentration (mainly due to lack of sleep)
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Unusual menstrual flow (light or heavy)
- PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Scoliosis (a condition in which the spine bends to the side abnormally; either to the right or left).
- oor sleeping prior to menses
- Sensitivity to stress
- Neurodegerative disorder (MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, ALS, and others)
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Heart arrhythmias
What are the causes of melatonin deficiency?
- Lack of sleep
- Anything that disrupts sleep such as:
a) Shift work
b) Jet lag
e) Blood sugar imbalances
g) Exposure to light (particularly blue light)
h) Electromagnetic waves
i) Age (some older adults produce no melatonin at all)
- Usage of certain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin and other NSAIDs, anti-anxiety and anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and steroids such as prednisone.
- Evening exercise (which decreases melatonin up to 3 hours aft exercise)
- Excess intake of vitamin B12 (doses over 3,000 mcg may inhibit melatonin production)
What happens during melatonin deficiency?
- Sleep-onset insomnia
- Increased night time sympathetic nervous system activity, which eventually increases the risk of coronary diseases.
- Increased circulating adrenalin and noradrenalin, which have been implicated in damage to blood vessel walls.
- Research on melatonin levels in breast and prostate cancer patients has led to support the contention that melatonin deficiency may be linked to the increased risks for these cancers.
- Studies have reported decreased nocturnal melatonin levels in patients suffering from depression and panic disorders
- Bio-identical melatonin cream
- Bio-identical melatonin vegetable capsules
What are the benefits of bio-identical melatonin?
- Improve immune system
- Strengthens body and mind
- Stress management
- Promotes muscle repair
- Provides mental, emotional and physical energy
- Provides concentration and alertness
- Increases the feeling of sleepiness
- Lengthen the total sleep duration
- Enhances sleep quality
- Improve morning alertness
- Reduces daytime fatigue.
Melatonin is well known in its capsule formulation for its ability to regulate the human body's sleep cycle and promote healthy sleep and wake times. Even though melatonin is not widely used as in cream form, it is for a fact a good option for promoting a healthy sleep cycle. It works as the same way the capsule form works. The melatonin cream also regulates circadian rhythm and foster healthy sleep.
However, there are additional benefits of using melatonin in the form of cream such as
- Very effective in reducing wrinkles.
- Slowing the effects of aging on the skin.
In tests conducted by the University of Munster, Germany, topical melatonin was shown to reduce the thickness and span wrinkles after only one full month of treatment. During the test, it was also revealed that the skin appeared and felt much smoother and promoted a 'youthful glow'.
In another six week clinical trial, if was found that melatonin cream could reliably
- Promote healing of damaged tissue
- Appear to help prevent skin damage caused during radiation treatment
Melatonin in the cream form is apparently useful for many purposes and in many ways better to the melatonin as a capsule.