Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note, where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This week we begin a content series that will unpack our STAY HEALTHY PROTOCOL. Let’s begin with MELATONIN.
I’ve used Melatonin on and off for years. Anyone who gets to be my age probably has sleep problems (baby boomers can relate!). And most likely they have tried Melatonin.
Melatonin has traditionally been used for jet lag and shift worker syndrome, but it actually has many other benefits and uses for STAYING HEALTHY. For example, COVID-19 prevention and/or treatment.
This Note is to help you start thinking about Melatonin not only for anti-aging, but for treatment and prevention of COVID-19, as well.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland, a tiny pea sized gland in the middle of the brain. It’s regulated by the amount of light you get.
When you go into a dark room, your body releases Melatonin which enables you to relax and fall asleep. That is why it’s important to keep your room dark at night.
As you get older, your body makes a lot less Melatonin. That is why many of us take supplements with Melatonin in it (with varying degrees of results).
The Benefits Of Melatonin
If you do the research, you’ll find that Melatonin is being used for:
- Cancer prevention
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Diabetic Nephropathy
- Lowering nighttime high blood pressure
- Autism in kids
Every time I go to an anti-aging conference, all the speakers talk about Melatonin and take it themselves.
It’s useful and it’s safe. Personally, (when I get the right dose) it helps me sleep better than a prescription sleep medication.
Side effects generally happen when you take too much. Some of those side effects could be:
- Drowsiness in the morning
- Dizziness (rare)
- Nausea (rare)
It’s not habit forming, and you won’t get tolerant to this supplement like you can with a lot of prescription sleep medications.
How Does Melatonin Work?
It’s a broad spectrum antioxidant. It’s an immunomodulator. It’s a free radical scavenger. It’s actually a derivative of tryptophan (a supplement that’s always been associated with good sleep). Think eating large amounts of turkey on Thanksgiving, and then falling asleep in the afternoon. That’s tryptophan.
It has a lot of properties that gather up free radicals (cellular debris that we see in every cell that you want to get rid of). THIS IS IMPORTANT!
It increases glutathione, and something called a superoxide dismutase (SOD).
It lowers glucose levels and blood pressure.
It protects the heart through two pathways: SIRT1 and AMPK.
For Covid, it helps tampen down that cytokine storm because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
It can be useful for COVID-19 for both prevention, as well as treatment.
A recent study in Covid patients on ventilators showed a decreased risk of death when Melatonin was used.
How To Take Melatonin
When taking Melatonin, it’s important to get the right form and find the right dose for you!
I hear a lot of people say “it puts me to sleep, and then I wake up at 2-3 in the morning”. This is most likely because they didn’t get the “slow release” form.
As far as dosing goes, start slow (unless you’re taking it for COVID-19), and gradually increase your dose.
On average my patients start at 1mg (slow release) and work up to 3mg (slow release) for general use. I have many patients that take 5-10mg every night.
In breast cancer patients, it’s been shown that 20mg is helpful.
Sleep is one of the 4 main tenets of our anti-aging protocol: Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep and Hormone Regulation.
Remember Melatonin is a hormone that declines as you age, therefore you need to supplement as you get older.
Melatonin has many other health benefits other than sleep. That’s why it’s part of our STAY HEALTHY PROTOCOL!
It’s such a great hormone!