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Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates the circadian rhythm as well as regulates the deep stages of sleep. It is in these deep stages of sleep that our immune system is stimulated. A recent book published called The Melatonin Miracle regarded the pineal gland as a master regulator of the endocrine system and, as such, controls most of the immune systems responses. The pineal gland controls the activities of virtually every cell in the body affecting such diverse functions as reproduction, body temperature, kidney function, immunity, sleep, growth and development. The pineal gland uses melatonin to maintiain the body's balance, equilibrium and homeostasis.
The pineal gland's primary role is to control the production and use of energy throughout the body through the release of melatonin and perhaps other compounds. The pineal directs energy production so that it goes where it is needed at precisely the right time, whether it is needed to repair or respond to injury or make hormones, enzymes or antibodies. In summary, melatonin directs the cells in the body to do whatever it takes to keep the body running and in a state of homeostasis.
On January 16, 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published the most extensive review about melatonin that has ever been published in a conventional medical journal. This article extolled many of the virtues of melatonin including the powerful antioxidant effects, the potential benefit in preventing and treating cancer, its immune enhancing properties, its potential to slow aging and its ability to promote better sleep and avoid jet lag. Melatonin has been shown to have a role in the biologic regulation of circadian rhythms, sleep, mood, reproduction, tumor growth and aging. As with DHEA, there have been hundreds of studies published showing the tremendous beneficial effects of melatonin. If published scientific studies show a natural hormone supplement can boost immune function, scavenge free radicals, fight cancer, induce youthful sleep patterns, and possibly slow the aging process, we feel that most people should be taking melatonin as a supplement.
Melatonin is sold over the counter. Again, most of the OTC preparations are from Hong Kong and do contain contaminants. The pharmaceutical grade is 100% pure. Taking melatonin that is compounded by a special pharmacy is the only way to ensure pure melatonin. The standard dose is 3 mg. Many patients may have to take up to 40mg in order to get the desired effect. The simple way to judge the correct amount necessary is by trial and error. The only side effect from melatonin might be excessive morning sleepiness and headache. If this is encountered, then the dose should be reduced. Some people are sensitive to melatonin and require a much smaller dose such as 1mg, while the majority of people tolerate 3 to 9 mg without difficulty. Again, since melatonin is such an important health hormone to take, the maximum dose tolerable should be taken. This dose is simply the amount that can be taken without causing excessive morning sleepiness and that which results in restful sleep without significant awakening.
I've discovered one intriguing sideline to melatonin, which is the reduction in nocturia or urinary frequency at night. Many men think that they have prostate problems because they awaken to urinate, although they usually urinate small amounts. Melatonin usually abolishes this nighttime awakening with the urge to urinate which in turn "cured" the supposed prostate problem. And, yes, it is equally effective in women.
Why would anyone not want to take this safe, natural, effective, cheap, cancer-protective, immune-enhancing therapy for sleep that has stood the test of time?
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