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Melatonin: Extraordinary Antioxidant Benefits Beyond Sleep

by Heather Schofield, BSc, DHMHS | Feb 03, 2015
Beyond sleep, research (over 6000 studies) shows that melatonin benefits are profound and far reaching. Known as the body’s most efficient free-radical scavenger with an impressive ability to control oxidative damage, melatonin has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune properties.

Melatonin is best known for its effectiveness as a sleep aid and regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Generally, melatonin is used for difficulty falling asleep, waking in the night, and improving overall sleep quality. Melatonin is particularly beneficial to help to overcome jetlag (especially when travelling eastbound over more that 2 time zones) and for shift workers with altered sleep schedules. A new understand is now emerging that greater health benefits of melatonin supplementation are associated with increased duration of REM and deep sleep, crucial for nightly repair, regeneration and detoxification.

Beyond sleep, research (over 6000 studies) shows that melatonin benefits are profound and far reaching. Known as the body’s most efficient free-radical scavenger with an impressive ability to control oxidative damage, melatonin has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune properties. These properties function as brain, heart, neurological, cognitive and cancer protection through the reduction of trauma from brain injury; preventing heart muscle damage; neuroprotection; increasing cognitive functioning; and offering cancer support and reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy.

Consider Melatonin for These Health Benefits:

Resetting the body’s sleep-wake cycles, increasing REM and total sleep time and improving sleep quality

Sleep

  • Difficulty falling asleep (insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome)
  • Waking in the night
  • Shift work and late night/altered sleep schedules
  • Jet lag

Powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and the body’s the most efficient free-radical scavenger.

Cancer Support

  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Reduce side effects from chemotherapy (low platelet counts, neurotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, and mouth sores)
  • Enhance effectiveness of standard therapy for cancer
  • Protects shift-workers from known increased cancer risks

Brain Health, Neuroprotection and Healthy Cognitive Function

  • Prevent neurodegenerative diseases
  • Improve mild cognitive impairment, learning and memory (Alzheimer’s and dementia)
  • Protect against brain injury (stroke or trauma)
  • Calcification of the pineal gland - offsets age-related diminished pineal-derived melatonin availability
  • Optimize brain cognitive function during natural aging process

Mental Health

  • Depression-related sleep disturbances
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Immune and Inflammation Support

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Stimulate immune system
  • Improved wound healing

Cardiovascular Health

  • Cardioprotection (angina, heart attack risk)
  • Reduce night-time hypertension (cardiovascular risk factor)

Gastrointestional Health

  • GI tract protection
  • Alleviates gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Reduces functional dyspepsia symptoms
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Headaches – cluster headaches, migraines

Anti-aging

Only about half the population gets desired sleep results with 1-3-5 mg dosage of melatonin and almost everyone is melatonin ‘deficient’, according to Harlan Lahti, Pharmacist. In the older population, melatonin production decreases due to pineal calcification and decreased pineal-derived melatonin availability.

High dose melatonin supplementation in sublingual form is both safe and significantly increases duration of REM and deep sleep for greater repair, regeneration and detoxification during sleep. When melatonin is coupled with vitamin B6, melatonin biosynthesis, secretion and absorption is enhanced. For patients who ‘don’t tolerate’ melatonin (ex. restlessness, too stimulating, sleep initially worsens), Mr. Lahti’s advice is to persist for about a week with 10 mg of melatonin taken with 1 tsp (5g) of L-Glycine powder. As a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, L-Glycine cools the core temperature of the body down for sleep preparation and allows patients to better tolerate melatonin supplementation.

Why Consider Supplementing Melatonin with Your Patients:

  1. Artificial Light - extension of daylight hours through indoor lighting suppresses production of melatonin
  2. Aging - decreased melatonin production occurs during aging due to pineal calcification
  3. Electrosmog - computers, laptops, tablets, television, and electrosmog suppress melatonin production
  4. Shift work - disrupts circadian cycle of melatonin and is linked to immune dysfunction and increased cancer rates
  5. Jet lag - jet lag and late night schedules disrupt circadian cycle of melatonin
  6. Non-addictive – safely resets circadian rhythms and natural sleep patterns, improving overall sleep quality
  7. No ‘Hangover’ – unlike other types of sleep aids, melatonin does not produce a ‘hang-over’ feeling in the morning
  8. Strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties - the most effective free radical scavenging ability in the body, for brain, heart, cancer and neurological protection.

Melatonin is at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy: providing immune boost properties, working with anti-tumor systems, improving tumour killing power of cytokine interleukin-2, and decreasing adverse side effects of chemotherapy and radiation including low platelet count, neurotoxicity, cardiotoxicity and mouth sores. Dosage recommendations often are as high as 50mg daily.

How to Individualize Biomed’s New Melatonin + B6 Dosage for Patients:

  • Difficulty falling asleep - take 1 tablet of melatonin 30 min to 1 hour before bedtime
  • Nighttime awakening and early morning insomnia – keep melatonin on bedside table and take 1 tablet upon waking (do not take within 1 hour of getting up in the morning)
  • Jetlag – take 1 hour before desired bedtime after darkness in new destination until adaptation to new daily pattern. Especially effective when travelling eastbound over 2 or more time zones.
  • Shift work – take 1 tablet several hours before planning on sleep (note: avoid driving, direct sunlight or bright light after taking melatonin)
  • Age-related sleep aid – effectiveness of melatonin may decrease with advancing age due to calcification of the pineal gland and decreased pineal-derived melatonin availability - take 1 tablet of melatonin 30 min to 1 hour before bedtime
  • Cancer support, prevention and control – to boost immune properties and increase REM sleep for nightly repair, regeneration and detoxification – take 10 - 50 mg of melatonin 30 min to 1 hour before bedtime
  • For patients that ‘do not do well’ on melatonin (restless, sleep initially worsening, too stimulating), take 1 tablet of melatonin with 1 tsp (5g) of L-Glycine. L-Glycine has shown to improve melatonin tolerance, as it acts as a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor and decreases core body temperature to match physiological temperature during sleep.

Note: If tired or groggy upon waking, reduce the dosage as one should wake feeling refreshed. Do not use melatonin during the daytime, as this can cause adverse effects and disrupt nighttime sleep. Do not drive or use machinery for 5 hours after taking melatonin.

The All-Important Sleep Protocol:

  1. Re-educate patients on good sleep habits and bedtime routine
  2. Melatonin + B6 10mg dosage for adults: take one tablet before or at bedtime.
  3. Melatonin relies on environmental light cues, with darkness as the trigger to increase production. Therefore, one hour before bed: no electronics should be used (this includes computers, tv, or cell phone), all lights should be dimmed, no exposure to bright light (ex. don’t turn on bathroom light to brush teeth).
  4. For the best results with Melatonin, the bedroom should be pitch-black throughout the night with no ambient light emission (ex. from alarm clocks, street lights etc).
  5. Consider prescribing an L-Glycine powder supplement at 1 tsp (5 g) if the patient does not seem to ‘tolerate’ melatonin.

References:
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Cajochen C, Frey S, Anders D, Späti J, Bues M, Pross A, Mager R, Wirz-Justice A, Stefani O. Evening exposure to a light-emitting diodes (LED)-backlit computer screen affects circadian physiology and cognitive performance. J Appl Physiol. 2011 May;110(5):1432-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00165.2011. Epub 2011 Mar 17.
Kwiatkowski F, Abrial C, Gachon F, Chevrier R, Curé H, Chollet P. Stress, cancer and circadian rhythm of melatonin. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2005 Jun;53(5):269-72. Epub 2005 Jan 20.
Karasek, M (2004). Melatonin, Human Aging, and Agr-related Disease. Experimental Gerontology. 39:1723-1729.
Reiter RJ, Tan DX, Manchester LC, El-Sawi MR. Melatonin reduces oxidant damage and promotes mitochondrial respiration: implications for aging. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Apr;959:238-50.
Lewis, Alan (1999). Melatonin and the Biological Clock. McGraw-Hill. p. 23. ISBN 0-87983-734-9.
Payne B, Magee LA, von Dadelszen P. Assessment, surveillance and prognosis in pre-eclampsia. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 2011;25:449–62.
Prolonged melatonin administration decreases nocturnal blood pressure in women. Am J Hypertension. 2005.
Daily nighttime melatonin reduces blood pressure in male patients with essential hypertension. Hypertension 2004.
Lissoni P, Barni S, Tancini G, et al. A randomized study with subcutaneous low dose interleukin 2 alone vs interleukin 2 plus the pineal neurohormone melatonin in advanced solid neoplasm other than renal cancer and melanoma. Br J Cancer. 1994 Jan;69(1):196-9.

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