Melatonin is a done thing.
Melatonin is a hormone from nervous system that is in human bodies naturally. It was first discovered by Arson Lernner in 1958, by the purification of an extract from Pineal Gland of an ox until an agent in Indole Group is attained. The attained agent affect Melanin in a frog’s skin, lightening the skin color. In addition, since the extract from Pineal Gland has the chemical structure that is like the structure of Serotonin, this indole agent that can bleach the Melanin is called ‘Melatonin’.
Roles and Responsibilities of Melatonin
Melatonin plays important roles in controlling and adjust the functions of body and is well known and widely used for assisting sleeping and soothing the symptoms of jet lag. The mechanism of Melatonin is related to sleeping and adjustment of daily cycle and drowsiness that leads to sleeping. From the study, it is discovered that the volunteers who take Melatonin at night can sleep faster and show no sign of fatigue or drowsiness after waking up.
As for the time lag, it is found in people who travel from a time zone to another and people working in night shifts. The symptoms of time sick is like the symptoms of people who have insufficient, which include confusion, forgetfulness, dizziness and disability to sleep when their bodies need sleeping, which is caused from the disturbance to daily cycle and their bodies cannot adjust the time such as the level of Melatonin does not match the time at the destination. The latest information from Cochrane who analyzed 10 related studies shows that Melatonin in the size of 0.5 – 5 mg that is taken around the sleeping time of the destination (22:00 – 24:00) can decrease the symptoms of time lag. It is believed that the function of Melatonin that causes drowsiness and urges the adjustment of daily cycle of the body play roles in the case.
Effects from Melatonin
Not only do effects of Melatonin in controlling the daily cycle of human body involve with the sleeping but they also involve with reproduction system, nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, oxidation system and aging mechanism of body. There have been reports of findings from experiments in test tubes and animals that Melatonin can get rid of free radicle , resist oxidation and reduce cell destruction. These properties lead to the studies on the use of Melatonin for healing diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. The aforementioned article is the collection of the latest knowledge of the use of Melatonin in patients with cancers.
The Generation of Melatonin in Body
Melatonin or N-acetylene-5-methoxy tryptamine is generated and secreted from Pineal Gland which is an endocrine gland in the center of the brain. In an adult, this gland is around 5 – 10 mm long. Melatonin secretion is activated by darkness and suspended by light. The level of Melatonin varies in the cycle of 24 hours. Melatonin is generated at night time, from 21:00 to 22:00 and will be in the peal level from 24:00 – 04:00 and will decrease consistently and will be stopped at 07:00 – 08:00.
The levels of Melatonin in blood stream at night time vary in people of different ages. In a baby whose age is inferior to 3 months, the amount of Melatonin secreted is little, and will be increased and becomes a cycle when the baby grows older, and will reach the peak at the age of 1 – 3 years and will gradually decrease. At the age of an adolescent, a great amount of Melatonin has decreased, which is believed to be related to the development of the reproduction system of the body. In young adults, it is found out that the average level of Melatonin reaches its peak, or around 60 picograms/ml of plasma, at night time.
At present, there are data showing that the level of Melatonin decreases at older age. It is discovered that the amount of Melatonin in blood stream of the elder in 24 hours is a half of that in young adults. Results from experiments with animals show that the decrease of the secretion of Melatonin may be correlated to the aging mechanism. It is believed that Melatonin may slow down the aging through the processes of free radical removal and oxidative stress prevention, which is another issue that has been widely studied on currently.
How safe is Melatonin?
Melatonin has been seriously studied in clinical research for more than 40 years and there have been positive reports of safety for clinical use, for acute and chronic levels; and does not cause any genetic change or cancer; and has no toxicity in rodents, rabbits and dogs even though the amount is as high as 800 mg/kg.
From the experiments with human beings, there is no side effect found from the use of 1 – 300 mg of Melatonin and no severe side effect has been found despite of the use of Melatonin in as great amount as 1 gram for 30 days.
Most reported side effects from Melatonin are related to calming effects especially from the use during the day time, which may lead to confusion, fatigue and drowsiness. However, from most studies on the use of Melatonin at night time, such side effects are reduced. Other side effects that have been reported to be related to the use of Melatonin include headache, insomnia, irritation of gut and nightmare.
At present, reports of the long-term hazardous side effects from the use of great amounts of Melatonin with patients with cancers are in limited number and the safety of the long-term use of Melatonin is still unknown. Thus, further studies and follow-up are recommended.
Who should avoid Melatonin?
Composed by Doctor Thirathat Samphaongoen, a master student of the course of Master of Science in Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine, School of Anti-gaming and Regenerative Medicine, Mae Fah Luang University