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

2010/04/03
Published

In Part A we looked at how low melatonin impacts multiple systems in the body. Low melatonin has been implicated in weakening adrenal function and therefore immune system function. This has an impact on all inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as eczema, allergies, seasonal affective disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, and chronic viral infections to name a few. All these conditions can suffer insomnia. And melatonin deficiency can aggravate other symptoms associated with each condition because of its ability to affect multiple metabolic pathways in the body from the brain, the immune system, the bones, our hormones, to every cell in our body!

COULD MY PRESCRIPTION DRUG BE BLOCKING MY MELATONIN?

Antidepressants and psychotropic drugs are known to impact the synthesis or release of melatonin. Beta blockers used for blood pressure regulation and some drugs used for schizophrenic patients also inhibit melatonin synthesis.  Over the counter NSAIDS such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin and acetaminophen also decrease melatonin production. Your doctor’s recommendation to take a baby aspirin daily can have a significant impact on causing your insomnia! If you are on any of these products you must have your melatonin levels checked.

MELATONIN AND FREE RADICALS

We have all heard about free radicals. They are formed as a byproduct of our digestion. Some foods cause more free radicals, especially chemically processed, food additive based, and burnt or BBQ food. Environmental toxins and heavy metals, mercury off-gas from our teeth also increase the amount and damage of free radicals to our body. Melatonin is water and fat soluble and therefore can combat free radicals in both the fluid compartments of the body and in our fat cells.

Melatonin freely crosses the blood brain barrier and can fight free radicals in our brain! Studies have shown melatonin to be MORE powerful than glutathione, or vitamin E. One study showed melatonin to be 500 times more efficient at protecting cells from radiation than DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide)!

IS MELATONIN CANCER PROTECTIVE?

The study of hormonal dependent cancers suggests increased survival time and quality of life for brain metastases from solid cancer tumors, and some lung and breast cancers. Melatonin helps to block estrogen’s irritating action on the cells, a lead cause of hormone related cancers. There have been studies showing an inverse correlation between melatonin levels and the growth of estrogen dominant cancers. When melatonin was used with tamoxifen, there was marked inhibition of breast cancer growth than with tamoxifen alone. Some of the positive anti-cancer effects also stem from melatonin’s effect upon the immune system.

FIND OUT YOUR MELATONIN LEVELS

A saliva test can be ordered online at www.immunematrix.com that will test melatonin levels at four distinct times of the day. This will give you much needed information on the level of melatonin and whether you are having a circadian rhythm problem.

ARE HIGH MELATONIN LEVELS BAD?

Elevated melatonin levels are common is seasonal affective disorders (SAD). Using a light box in the morning helps to reset our body’s circadian rhythm and has been proven to result in lowering levels of elevated melatonin. Exercising in the evening also helps to inhibit melatonin levels. Exercise also increases endorphins in the brain promoting the positive “feel good” feelings we need to combat the chemistry of depression.

Melatonin can also become elevated with L-tryptophan supplementation. Some drugs increase melatonin: MAO inhibitors, desipramine, and fluvoxamine. Marijuana will increase melatonin and also kill mitochrondria, the cells that make our energy molecule, ATP!

Avoid foods high in melatonin to decrease high melatonin levels such as: oats, corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, barley, spirulina, soybean, cottage cheese, chicken livers, pumpkin seeds, turkey, chicken, almonds, peanuts, brewer’s yeast, ice cream, yogurt.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE LOW MELATONIN LEVELS:

A)    Find out what your bedtime neurotransmitter levels are. A urine neurotransmitter panel test can be ordered online at www.immunematrix.com. If you are low in serotonin, then begin supplementation with L-tryptophan before bed (500-1000mg), and 3mg melatonin. (Take niacinamide, B6, calcium and magnesium earlier in the day to support melatonin production)

B)     Dim the lights as the evening progresses. Extended light at night inhibits your circadian rhythm and will inhibit the onset of melatonin production.

C)    Sleep in pitch darkness. Turn off all night lights, digital alarm clock lights and have the curtains block out night lights and moonlight. Even a minute amount of light from an alarm clock will affect and block your pineal gland’s production of melatonin synthesis while you sleep because it blocks the conversion of serotonin. Melatonin can only be made by your body during darkness. Studies have shown that one hour of light at midnight dropped in direct proportion to the intensity of the light!

D)    Unplug all electrical appliances in your bedroom. This means use only battery operated alarm clocks. The reason for this is that electromagnetic energy disrupts pineal function and synthesis of melatonin. Living near power lines, having computers plugged in one’s bedroom, wireless internet, TV, stereo, even if they are not on, all run current through the walls of your room.

E)     Do not exercise at night, as this reduces the synthesis of melatonin.

F)     Daily morning walks of one hour were shown to be twice as effective as low dose artificial light therapy in relieving SAD, seasonal affective disorder.

G)    Keep your bedroom cool! Falling body temperatures induce sleep, while a rise in body temperature (seen in ovulation, hot flashes or warmer rooms) provokes wakefulness.

H)    If you are unable to fall asleep until the early morning hours, taking melatonin before bed nonetheless and using a light box in the morning when you awake will help to reset your sleep rhythm.

I)       If you cannot stay asleep long enough, then taking melatonin can increase sleep duration as well. Smaller doses of melatonin were proven just as effective as larger doses in inducing and sustaining sleep.

J)       Check your supplements and make sure that those containing B vitamins are not taken past 3:00 p.m. Large doses of B12 can also inhibit melatonin levels. If you are prescribed B12 injections, discuss with your health care provider the need to determine your melatonin levels and make supplement adjustment to prevent the inhibition of melatonin synthesis.

K)    Have your salivary cortisol levels checked to make sure elevated cortisol levels in the afternoon and evening hours are not interfering with melatonin synthesis. A salivary cortisol kit can be ordered online at www.immunematrix.com

As you can see, there is a lot that you can do independently to optimize your melatonin levels and improve all chronic symptoms and optimize your health. Knowledge is power, but only if you use it. Find out what your melatonin levels are and take charge of your health.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan