Of all the uses I thought I’d discover for melatonin, (which is a very popular, natural sleep medication) anti-aging wasn’t on my list or anywhere in my mind. And yet, it’s true, this simple natural substance that is produced in the pineal gland in your head neutralizes the most damaging free radical, called the hydroxyl radical.
This was first discovered in 1992 by Russel J. Reiter, PhD, professor of cellular and structural biology, whose team produced evidence that melatonin is five times more effective than other well known free radical neutralizers such as gluthatione. I have placed web references for these terms later in this article.
Free Radicals, Cancer and Aging
There is a theory of aging that says that we age (as all biological matter decays) over time because free radicals damage our sells and DNA, which then produces less perfect replacement cells in succession. The damage that free radicals to to tissue is called oxidative damage, and it is responsible for aging through the addition of oxygen to sensitive organic tissue molecules, thus ‘oxidising’ them.
Melatonin Neutralizes Free Radicals
Oxygen, which we need to live, is a highly reactive gas and is responsible for such reactions as we see in the rusting of iron and the combustion of materials we use for heating. Melatonin neutralizes the free radicals that cause this ‘biological combustion’ in our bodies, but as we age, we produce less and less of it, which is thought to contribute to acceleration of the aging process.
Melatonin, Cancer and Reduced Radiation Damage
Reduced Radiation Damage
Melatonin was shown (also by Dr. Reiter) to reduce the damage done to our cells by radiation from X-Rays. In a well known experiment, Reiter exposed two groups to X Rays and measured the damage to white blood cells. One was treated with melatonin and the other with DMSO, dimethyl sulfoxide, a well known protector against such radiation. Both groups showed 70% reduced damage, but the melatonin dose was 500 times less than the DMSO dose – which is utterly remarkable!
Reduced Cancer Susceptability
In an other experiment, rats were given high doses of a cancer inducing substance called safrole, and one of the groups of rats was also given melatonin. Remarkably, the rats that were given melatonin suffered between 41% to 99% percent less damage to their DNA than those that were not given melatonin.
Results compared to gluthatione were even better. Melatonin is starting to look like a wonder-drug!
Melatonin Alzhemers and Parkinsons’s Disease
Melatonin is produced cyclically, and at night, there is ten to fifteen times as much of it in our bodies as there is during the day, which is what makes us drowsy and allows us to get the sleep we need.
It is thought that the reduction of melatonin levels in our bodies leaves us much more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as we age, because of the reduced protection against free radicals, which are associated with both diseases. Here’s one remarkable claim:
“Specifically, melatonin can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and help protect vital cellular structures, such as mitochondria, from oxidative damage and decay.80 Declines in mitochondrial function are a hallmark feature of many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.”
Melatonin and Obesity
Firstly, as far as I know, no clinical trial results have yet been released for melatonin as an obesity treatment. However, preclinical trials have been undertaken in the US, and results so far are encouraging. So how do we think that melatonin might help with obesity? Could weight loss be another of so many melatonin side effects and benefits? Here’s another quote from a reliable source:
“In middle-aged rodents, daily melatonin administration was found to suppress abdominal fat, plasma leptin levels, and insulin levels, while also reducing body weight and food intake.96,97 Other researchers reported that melatonin was associated with decreased intra-abdominal fat, decreased plasma insulin and leptin levels, and the absence of age-related weight gain”
Further studies have shown that melatonin activates brown fat tissue (brown adipose tissue – but I never use the word adipose ever since a Dr Who episode had the fat in our bodies turning into little people! yuck!), which then causes our bodies to start burning fat instead of storing it. I would be cautious about this claim though, because I never saw significant weight loss without at least some exercise to burn off the fat.
Conclusions on Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin is produced by our bodies in the pineal gland and is thus a safe substance when used at specified dosage. Although used primarily as a sleep aid, it has been found to provide significant protection against free radicals which are thought to be one of the underlying causes of accelerated aging and our susceptibility to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Melatonin is also thought to provide benefits in our fight against cancer, obesity and many other common ailments, many of which arise as a consequence of aging and increased life-span. There are many sources available for you to read in detail about these claims for melatonin, but I do suggest that you should always consult a qualified specialist before placing any faith in on-line articles. Our knowledge grows and changes daily!
Where can I buy Melatonin
You need a high quality US Manufactured product at the best price. My choice is Melatrol and right now there’s a limited time offer to make it even more affordable for you.