The 5 Extraordinary Health Benefits of Melatonin – Hint: It’s Not Just for a Good Night’s Sleep

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that’s produced by your pineal gland in the brain. Aside from regulating some hormones, it’s also known for its role in the sleep-wake cycle. You get your dose of melatonin from the foods you eat or by taking health supplements.

”Okay, it’s a hormone. So what? What can it do for me? And…” Hold your horses. To answer those questions, here are five great reasons why you should be thanking this hormone right now, or later.

#1: Say Bye-Bye to Migraine Attacks

There are different stories going on why some people suffer from migraine headaches. Some researchers say that people with migraine have decreased levels of melatonin hormone. Through clinical trials, they suggest that reintroducing this hormone into the body could significantly reduce migraine by around 50 to 75 percent. (1)

Turns out that melatonin has similar chemical structure with indomethacin, an analgesic. So, its anti-inflammatory ability reduces response to pro-inflammatory hormones, like cytokines, and inhibits nitric oxide activity, which is a key player in migraine pathophysiology.

#2: Great for Your Nerves

From reducing migraine attacks, melatonin also has potential benefits in treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

You see, people, usually older ones, with these diseases are found to have low levels of melatonin. But, somehow, when researches introduced 6 milligrams per day of melatonin (by mouth) to 45 patients for 4 months, they slept better and had suppressed sundowning, a condition wherein people with Alzheimer’s experience late-day confusions. (2)

#3: Reduces Damage Caused by Stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death among Americans. Each year, it kills 130,000 Americans. (3) It’s a sad fact, but here’s something to cheer you up…

Studies showed that melatonin protects people from the detrimental effects of stroke. Imagine, just one injection of melatonin (5 mg/kg) 0 to 2 hours after the onset of stroke is enough to help reduce brain tissue death and degree of ischemia, says one study from the University of Hong Kong. (4)

#4: Increases Survival Rate of Cancer Sufferers

Melatonin is found to be a good sole or adjunct treatment for cancer. Just like migraine sufferers, cancer patients, specifically those with prostate and breast cancers, have abnormally low levels of melatonin hormone. The real cause is still unclear, but some researchers hypothesize that exposure to magnetic fields could be the cause.

According to one study by the McMaster University, giving large doses of melatonin (10 to 40 mg/day) could prolong a patient’s life at one year by—drum roll, please—34 percent! (5)

#5: Better Sleep Quality

Of course, we can’t forget that melatonin is a natural “sleeping pill.” When everything goes dark and scary (just kidding), you can rest assured that melatonin is there to help you fall asleep. However, as we age, melatonin levels tend to decline. Thus, if you’ll notice, older people experience decline of sleep quality.

What’s the solution? One research revealed that insomniac elderly people, who received 2mg of controlled-release melatonin for 3 weeks, experienced better sleep quality. (6)

Well, that’s it. I hope this answers your questions and convinced you of the beneficial effects of melatonin.  Please take a look a the following infographic from the the Underground Health Reporter

Warning: Never take any supplement or medication without first consulting a trained medical professional. 

Melatonin Pillow Image Courtesy of:

Research Summary: (1)     M.F.P. Perez, MD, PhD; E. Zukerman, MD; F. da Cunha Tanuri, MD, et al. (24 August 2004). Melatonin, 3 mg, is effective for migraine prevention. Volume 63, No. 4 757. Retrieved from Neurology Journals.
(2)     Cardinali DP, Brusco Ll, Liberczuk C, and Furio AM. (2002). The use of melatonin in Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from Europe PubMed Central.
(3)     Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009   [PDF-2M]. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2011;60(3). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(4)     Pei Z, Pang SF, and Cheung RT. (March 2003). Administration of melatonin after onset of ischemia reduces the volume of cerebral infarction in a rat middle cerebral artery occlusion stroke model. 34(3): 770-5. Epub 2003 Feb 6. Retrieved from PubMed.
(5)     Edward Mills et al. (November 2005). Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systemic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis. 39(4): 360-6. Retrieved from PubMed.
(6)     D Garfinkel, MD; M Laudon, PhD; D Nof, PhD, and N Zisapel, PhD. (26 August 1995). Improvement of sleep quality in elderly people by controlled-release melatonin. The Lancet. Volume 346, Issue 8974, Pages 541-544. Retrieved from Science Direct

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