If you have ever had trouble sleeping you may have heard about the supplement melatonin. About five years ago I was having horrible sleep issues and while your typical over the counter sleep meds were making me dizzy and light-headed, while still not sleeping, I was finally told about melatonin by a coworker of my husbands and what a difference it made in my sleeping, my stress level, and my life. Four years later after going through breast cancer treatments I was once again hearing about melatonin. Research suggests that it may actually extend a person’s life who has certain types of cancer. Then as I did more research I found out that it can help memory and patients with Alzheimer’s (and chemo brain), children with Autism, individuals with Migraine headaches and Tinnitus, people with Gallbladder stones, Mood disorders, and even help with Obesity.
Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland deep inside the brain. For more than a quarter-century, scientists have been intrigued by melatonin’s ability to coordinate the body’s physiological rhythms that help set the brain’s biological clock.
The principal factor affecting melatonin is light, which inhibits the secretion of this hormone. Darkness has the opposite effect from light, resulting in signaling to the pineal gland to increase melatonin secretion. The normal cycles of melatonin production are altered due to factors including aging, medications, and light exposure at night.
Melatonin is a powerful and versatile antioxidant produced within the body. Melatonin protects both lipids and proteins against damage, and can scavenge some of the most dangerous free radicals in the body—including hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide. Unlike other antioxidants, melatonin easily diffuses into all cells, and even crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect the delicate brain.
One of melatonin’s most important applications is in fighting a wide array of cancers, including breast and liver cancers, non-small-cell lung cancer, and brain metastases from solid tumors.
When women with metastatic breast cancer who had failed to respond to tamoxifen received melatonin supplements (20 mg every evening), they demonstrated an improved response to the chemotherapy drug. More than one-quarter of the subjects—whose disease otherwise was expected to progress rapidly—began responding to the chemotherapy treatment. Most of the women also experienced anxiety relief from the melatonin supplementation. Eight laboratory studies suggest that melatonin may help fight hormone-responsive breast cancers by inhibiting the aromatase enzyme, which is responsible for the local synthesis of estrogens.
Emerging research suggests that melatonin may also help fight one of the most common malignancies in aging men—prostate cancer.
In addition to its benefits for cancer survival, melatonin may also help counteract the toxicity of chemotherapy treatment. Two-hundred-fifty individuals undergoing chemotherapy for advanced cancers of the lung, breast, gastrointestinal tract, or head and neck received chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with melatonin (20 mg/day). After one year, the melatonin-supplemented individuals demonstrated a higher rate of survival, and were significantly protected against many of the side effects associated with chemotherapy, including decreased platelet count, neurotoxicity, heart damage, mouth sores, and fatigue.
If you or someone you know is facing Cancer, Cancer treatments, Migraines, Parkinson’s, Gallstones, Alzheimer’s, Autism, Tinnitus, Mood disorders, or Obesity issues, it may do some good to do more research on the benefits of melatonin. As always, make sure you know if there are any risks involved for your case and talk with your health care provider before starting any new medications.
Choosing healthy living over dying :)