Melatonin is a widely available, off-the-shelf supplement that is used to help sleep.
This page in a nutshell:
- If you take a small amount of melatonin, you will sleep more deeply, and will be healthier. This is not so important for younger people, but is very important for older people, as the body produces less melatonin as we age.
- Melatonin is not addictive. If you take melatonin today, your body will not naturally produce any more or less melatonin tomorrow. This is in sharp contrast to most supplements, such as caffeine, alcohol and most sleeping pills, where your body will get used to it so you have to keep taking it just to survive the day (citation required).
- If your room is not perfectly dark, then the natural level of melatonin will not be produced, and you will sleep less deeply, and will thus be unhealthier.
- The range of melatonin dosage is somewhere between 0.1 milligrams and 10 milligrams, depending on body weight, age and existing conditions. You can experiment, melatonin is very safe and it’s almost impossible to overdose.
- 0.1 milligrams is a safe, long term dosage.
- 1 milligrams is a safe, long term dosage.
- Some people with severe insomnia need 10 milligrams to fall asleep.
Melatonin and Cancer
Quotes from Melatonin and cancer (1):
Some quick facts about melatonin and cancer
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced mainly by the pineal gland in the brain, although some has recently been found in the bone marrow where it appears to be linked with white cell formation. It is a crucial regulator of cancer driving hormones, like oestrogen and growth factors, and a powerful antioxidant.
Melatonin and cancer
- Melatonin is produced about 90 minutes after falling asleep in a fully darkened room. It pushes you into a deeper sleep. Production is light sensitive and regulatory “sensors” have been found in the retina. Several studies (e.g. The Boston Nurses Study, one on night-shift working) have shown that irregular sleeping habits and sleeping in synthetic light, lower the production of the hormone and are also associated with higher breast cancer levels. Conversely, blind women develop less breast cancer.
- Research has shown that melatonin regulates excess oestrogen levels and excess IGF-1 levels. Both drive cancer and IARC has declared lack of sleep a carcinogen. Melatonin is thus an anti-cancer agent.
- Night shift working in men has been shown to triple the rate of prostate cancer, double the rate of bowel cancer, increase the rate of lung cancer by 79 per cent and increase rates of bladder cancer by 70 per cent. (Cancer Watch: University of Quebec)
- It is now known that EMF´s (Electromagnetic frequencies) – the sort found from WIFI to mobile phones, to masts etc – can also lower melatonin levels in the body, allowing oestrogen and IGF-1 levels to increase.
- The discovery of melatonin in the bone marrow has led to new views on its role in a stronger immune system.
- However, the link between lowered levels of melatonin in the bone marrow and the negative effects of EMFs has spawned a debate about leukaemia and particularly childhood leukaemia.
- There are nearly a thousand studies showing that melatonin supplementation has important oncostatic effects: both in cancer prevention, and also during chemotherapy, where it has been repeatedly shown to reduce side-effects.
- Melatonin levels decline with age, and melatonin supplements have been shown to have anti-aging benefits. Supplementation is now used by night shift workers, nurses, long-haul flyers and a number of top oncology and anti-aging professors on both sides of the Atlantic. It is primarily used in prevention, but strong arguments are made for its inclusion in cancer treatment programmes too.
- Supplements of 3 to 6 mgs are commonly taken about 30 minutes before going to bed. Levels above 10 mgs have been thought to cause vivid dreams and hallucination, but there is little scientific evidence. The hormone is freely available over the counter in many countries from Thailand to the USA. But not in the UK or Europe. Research studies suggest that melatonin may act far better when plant-derived rather than synthetic. The plant derived version is called Asphalia.
Melatonin boosts the immune system…
Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System (2):
Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System
From Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683. Published online 2013 Apr 22.
Author: Antonio Carrillo-Vico et. al.
Melatonin modulates a wide range of physiological functions with pleiotropic effects on the immune system. Despite the large number of reports implicating melatonin as an immunomodulatory compound, it still remains unclear how melatonin regulates immunity. While some authors argue that melatonin is an immunostimulant, many studies have also described anti-inflammatory properties. The data reviewed in this paper support the idea of melatonin as an immune buffer, acting as a stimulant under basal or immunosuppressive conditions or as an anti-inflammatory compound in the presence of exacerbated immune responses, such as acute inflammation. The clinical relevance of the multiple functions of melatonin under different immune conditions, such as infection, autoimmunity, vaccination and immunosenescence, is also reviewed.
Keywords: melatonin, pineal, immune system, cytokines, inflammation, infection, autoimmunity, vaccination, immunosenescence
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 May 5;370(1667). pii: 20140122. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0122.
Melatonin: a possible link between the presence of artificial light at night and reductions in biological fitness.
By Jones TM et. al.
The mechanisms underpinning the ecological impacts of the presence of artificial night lighting remain elusive. One suspected underlying cause is that the presence of light at night (LAN) supresses nocturnal production of melatonin, a key driver of biological rhythm and a potent antioxidant with a proposed role in immune function. Here, we briefly review the evidence for melatonin as the link between LAN and changes in behaviour and physiology. We then present preliminary data supporting the potential for melatonin to act as a recovery agent mitigating the negative effects of LAN in an invertebrate. Adult crickets (Teleogryllus commodus), exposed to constant illumination, were provided with dietary melatonin (concentrations: 0, 10 or 100 µg ml(-1)) in their drinking water. We then compared survival, lifetime fecundity and, over a 4-week period, immune function (haemocyte concentration, lysozyme-like and phenoloxidase (PO) activity). Melatonin supplementation was able only partially to mitigate the detrimental effects of LAN: it did not improve survival or fecundity or PO activity, but it had a largely dose-dependent positive effect on haemocyte concentration and lysozyme-like activity. We discuss the implications of these relationships, as well as the usefulness of invertebrates as model species for future studies that explore the effects of LAN.
- (1) www.canceractive.org. Melatonin and cancer. Some quick facts about melatonin and cancer. See http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=1242.
- (2) Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683. Published online 2013 Apr 22. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3645767/.