IS MELATONIN DEFICIENCY MAKING MY SYMPTOMS WORSE? (PART A)

2010/04/01
Published

Melatonin is a modulator of our biorhythms, hormonal function, neurological function, behavioral function and many metabolic functions. Melatonin affects physical and psychological disorders such as insomnia, stress, delayed sleep, PMS, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression, infertility, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, immune disordersS, cardiovascular disease, menstrual irregularities, MS (multiple sclerosis), osteoporosis, hot flashes and menopause and cancer risk. It regulates body temperature, our sleep-wake cycle, female reproductive hormones, mood, immune health, bone resorption and declines with age!

Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland found in the center of our brain. It is a hormone that crosses the blood-brain barrier and travels to all parts of the body. Its synthesis is affected by light and dark, length of day, body temperature, artificial lights, electromagnetic energy, exercise, and our aging bodies decrease in metabolic function.

An excess or deficiency of this hormone can cause problems with our immune system, cardiovascular system, neurological system, skeletal system, and sexual hormone system. It affects the rate at which we age and can propel us to an earlier demise from cancer, reduce the quality of our life, and predispose us to cancer and other immune, and degenerative conditions.

IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN CHRONIC INFLAMMATION & MELATONIN?

Any type of chronic inflammation will weaken your adrenal glands over time. The adrenal glands are part of the HPA axis, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. These three glands are linked in a key communication network, synchronizing hormonal function. What affects one gland impacts the other glands, resulting in a weakening of the immune system, thyroid hormones, sex hormones and brain chemistry. Conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoporosis, lupus, menopause, seasonal affective disorder, depression, acid reflux, autism, eczema, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lyme disease, chronic viral infections such as Epstein Barr, as well as chronic work, relationship, and emotional stress all weaken the adrenal glands and the HPA axis, resulting in reduced melatonin synthesis.

Individuals suffering chronic inflammatory conditions often report less than optimal sleep length, quality and pattern. Women are particularly susceptible to lower serotonin levels, a key neurotransmitter that helps women feel happy, and calm. With age serotonin levels decrease and women are more sensitive to this decrease. A decrease in serotonin means a decrease in melatonin synthesis because serotonin is needed for melatonin synthesis! Individuals suffering from chronic inflammation also tend to have weak or diseased mitochondria, the only cells in our body that make ATP, the energy molecule we live on! ATP is needed to make melatonin. Individuals suffering chronic fatigue suffer low energy because of low ATP synthesis as one type of metabolic impairment and will suffer low melatonin synthesis as a result! It becomes a chain reaction!

SOME CONDITIONS ARE MORE SENSITIVE TO LOW MELATONIN

People suffering from depression and panic disorder have been shown to have significantly lower melatonin levels. In addition, they suffered from a delayed circadian rhythm. This means that the signal the body makes to start melatonin synthesis is off and occurs later than is should. Is it no wonder why these individuals cannot fall asleep or get into a deep sleep level? Geopathic stress caused by geomagnetic storms have also been shown to increase hospital admissions in those suffering from depression by as much as 36%! It was postulated that the earth’s electromagnetic rhythms can throw off our body’s circadian rhythm.

IS THERE A DIRECT LINK BETWEEN MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND MELATONIN?

Multiple Sclerosis is the most common demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system with variations in clinical course among individuals. It has been found that declines of melatonin result in exacerbation of MS symptoms with some suggestion that remissions have resulted from melatonin’s stimulation of the immune system. Studies have confirmed a progressive decline in melatonin with the progression of the disease!

WHY THE SUDDEN CONCERN ABOUT OSTEOPOROSIS FOR MENOPAUSAL WOMEN?

Melatonin helps to regulate our calcium metabolism through its effect upon our aging and shrinking parathyroid gland. Melatonin is also needed for progesterone metabolism, which inhibits bone loss. Without ovulation, a woman cannot make progesterone. Thus the protective function that progesterone and melatonin has on bone resorption is lost. Anti-aging medicine is only now beginning to become appreciative and enthusiastic of the youth benefits of melatonin optimization, and its protective nature against osteoporosis and the development of “fatty bones”. This is just one amazing function of melatonin!

WHAT DOES MELATONIN DO FOR OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Melatonin helps to modulate our body’s response to stress, acting as an anti-stress hormone through opoid receptors in the brain. Chronic stress weakens the immune system. It has been found that specific T helper lymphocytes (white blood cells) are positively affected by the immune boosting effects of melatonin.

WHAT CAN MELATONIN DO FOR YOUR HEART?

When melatonin decreases, our activity level at night increases in our nervous system. It’s called increased nighttime sympathetic activity from increased cortisol activity and norepinephrine. This causes the heart to continue beating just as hard and fast at night as it does during the day, not allowing it to rest. Therefore, low melatonin levels will wear out your heart faster over time.

Coronary heart disease patients have been shown to have melatonin levels 5 times lower than healthy heart individuals! Therefore, low melatonin will speed the development of coronary heart disease!

Melatonin has other heart benefits! It helps to fight “sticky blood” called platelet aggregation, the reason doctors try to put everyone on a daily aspirin! Sticky blood causes strokes, a leading killer. However, melatonin does not have the harmful side effects that aspirin does over time!

As you can now see, low melatonin does more than just affect your quality and quantity of sleep. Melatonin is fundamental for proper function of your adrenal, thyroid and pituitary hormones. It is at the core of many mechanisms of depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and a multitude of inflammatory conditions. Part B will discuss what you can do to rebalance multiple metabolic systems in the body by optimizing your melatonin.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan