Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a pea like structure located in the centre of the brain. What is now known is that it is part of the body clock, an internal timer that regulates the production of various hormones which in turn control human activities like – sleeping, eating, sexual development, immune systems and maternal instincts.Plasma Melatonin levels increase steadily between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and reaches its peel value between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. The level of this hormone then declines and reaches its low level in the afternoon.

Melatonin is synthesized by the pineal gland from the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin is involved in several central physiological processes, including body temperature and blood-pressure regulation, as well as a variety of neuro-psychological functions such as appetite, memory, and mood. Melatonin and serotonin are inextricably linked: When melatonin levels drop or rise for any reason, so do serotonin levels, and vice versa.

Actions of Melatonin

  • Low-dose supplements can hasten sleep and ease jet lag.
  • Strengthen the immune system. Melatonin could restore the function of T-helper cells in mice whose immune systems had been compomised. This shows that melatonin has the potential of improved treatment for patients with AIDS in human beings in future.
  • Reduces free radicals in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Immno-modulator in cancer. Research has shown that Melatonin has reduced tumor size in breast cancer.
  • Tests with laboratory mice suggest that melatonin might also reduce the effects of aging. On mice, melatonin caused a significant 20% increase in their lifespan.
  • Rodent study suggests that taking small amounts of melatonin on a regular basis may prevent the age-related decline in testosterone levels.
  • It removes blemishes, lightens scars, dark circles, stretch marks. It also lightens the skin and improves the texture of hair.
  • It is supposed to be beneficial to kids suffering from learning disorders like dyslexia.

Taking Melatonin

Why take Melatonin ?
Studies suggest that low-dose supplements can hasten sleep and ease jet lag, without the hazards or side effects of sleeping pills. Melatonin may have many other uses and has been reported to make people feel better, strengthen the immune system, and reduce free radicals in the body. It also acts as an antioxidant and immuno modulator in cancer.

There is lot to be learned about Melatonin. Research is underway to determine melatonin’s effects on human body and its more precise role and actions.

Recommended dose: It varies between 100 mcg to 200 mg. Start with lower dose and increase gradually. It is one of the least toxic substances.
Possible side effects: nightmares, headaches, morning giddiness, mild depression, and low sex drive.
Who should avoid Melatonin: Pregnant and those planning to conceive. People with severe allergic and auto immune diseases. Those suffering from lymphomas and leukaemias.

Those taking Prozac should not take melatonin. Melatonin should not be combined with Vitamin B6. It should also not be combined with oestrogen or any other hormone.

When should melatonin be taken: Melatonin should only be taken at night-time, usually about thirty minutes prior to going to bed. If you are travelling on a long trip you may want to take a low dosage 300mcg tablet prior to getting on your flight.