Melatonin does more than just help weary travelers adjust their internal clock. New research shows that it also boosts brain function. Here’s a quote from a recent Psychology Today article:
“The waning of melatonin may also figure into age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. People over 80 have half as much melatonin in their cerebral spinal fluid as younger people, and those with Alzheimer’s disease have just one-fifth as much.”
In fact, melatonin deficiency is now considered by savvy health practitioners as an early predictor of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, well before other more obvious signs of dementia or erratic movements appear. Turns out that memory and movement problems may even be reversed with supplemental melatonin, which protects neurons from dangerous brain plaques and toxic aluminum exposure.
Starting supplemental melatonin before significant damage to brain cells and mental decline occurs is critical. Research studies have used dosages of 3 to 24 mg of melatonin for one to five years.
Read on for the diseases that inexpensive-yet-powerful melatonin is being used to treat!
Melatonin Inhibits Breast Tumors, Strokes, Insulin Resistance & Insomnia Too!
As a very potent antioxidant that readily passes through the blood-brain barrier,melatonin fights the underlying oxidative stress and inflammation driving neurodegenerative diseases. Melatonin has also has been shown to:
- Inhibit growth of breast tumors (melatonin has long been used in Japan for cancer treatments)
- Lower the risk of stroke (and help prevent mental impairment)
- Regulate insulin to improve metabolic disorders (like diabetes)
- Offer relief from depression (by foiling insomnia and improving sleep cycles)
Fast Facts: The European Medicines Agency has designated melatonin a drug given its many powerful benefits for so many disease states. Pretty cool for such an inexpensive nutrient.
Melatonin Production Drops with Age
Melatonin production drops dramatically with age, which is why insomnia can become such a problem for the aging population. People taking sleeping potions to sleep exacerbate the problem as any prescriptions with benzodiazepines actually suppress melatonin levels.
Because melatonin is released in the dark, artificial light, such as that from TV screens, cell phones, and computers, can interrupt the body’s natural rhythm of releasing melatonin after sunset. All this disrupts our normal sleep patterns, leavingmany with a sense of fatigue and malaise and a risk to neurons that go unprotected without ample melatonin.
If you want to do your brain a big favor, resist the urge to check your cell phone before bed and don’t watch TV in your bedroom. Stop electronics use 2 hours before bed to give your brain time to settle into sleep.
Fast Facts: Foods commonly do not contain melatonin (except cherries) so take supplements to boost melatonin levels, especially if you’re adjusting to jetlag or sleeping less.