More From Melatonin Than We Ever Thought Before

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized
portrait artist and award-
winning columnist.

Living the Sweet Life: 

Move over Prozac . . . there’s yet another reason to add melatonin to your daily routine. You have probably heard of melatonin but never knew all of the benefits the supplement could deliver. My first experience with it was while planning a trip to Paris back in 2007. I bought it and took it after settling in on the plane to get me to sleep and to prevent the dreaded “jet lag.” I wanted to bounce off the plane and enjoy as much of the famous city as possible in the five days we were going to be there. It worked, and then it got tossed into the medicine cabinet never to be thought of again – until now.

A few months ago, I ran across an article by Rachel Uda called A Multitasking Molecule in the April 2016 issue of Psychology Today about the benefits of melatonin and earmarked it as something that I needed to look further into. It turns out that not only does melatonin induce sleep, it also keeps the brain in order, regulates estrogen and acts as a free radical scavenger making it a potent antioxidant, influences body temperature, acts as an antidepressant, protects the heart and may help fight diabetes! The list is indeed a long one.

Melatonin is released in the pineal gland, which is the center in the brain where alertness and hormone production take place. When regulated properly, it allows for better brain function. In studies, melatonin has improved oxidative stress. It acts as a neuroprotectant, which reduces the risk of brain damage from stroke and trauma. Melatonin levels drops as we get older, but by keeping the levels at a normal place, even the elderly can be spared sleepless nights. Other brain disorders that tend to pop up in older people, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, may also find benefits from a melatonin supplement. Studies with such afflicted patients have shown that melatonin actually counters the neurotoxicity effects of amyloid beta and tau proteins, which become too high in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. By adding a melatonin supplement, some benefits have been achieved in slowing the progression of cognitive impairment.

Melatonin as an antidepressant is probably the most exciting news, since the mental health of our country is at risk with so many people falling into depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs with people in the winter months. I personally have not been diagnosed with this but am in fact quite sure I have it. This is why when daylight savings begins and the trees become green again, I just “feel” better. Melatonin has proved to be effective at treating depression.

Researchers are continuing to discover more and more benefits from melatonin, even that it may protect the heart. Insulin secretion is synchronized in our bodies with melatonin production, meaning there is potential with this little pill to be able to help stave off diabetes too. I have added it to my daily routine and so should you – after talking to your very own doctor of course!

Take Care of YOU!