By Dr. Shellie L. Rosen, PhD, DOM, L.Ac.
I used to see melatonin as a last resort for getting and staying asleep. I would successfully redirect a patient’s attention to synergistic herbal blends, diet, exercise, and light exposure changes. Times have changed, and so have I. I now routinely recommend melatonin for rest, protection against illness, recovery while sick, anxiety, mood disorders, and weight management. I encourage the use of melatonin daily. Today I map out why I believe melatonin is critical for rest and the daily prevention, treatment, and healing from illness.
Melatonin is a hormone primarily synthesized by the pineal gland from serotonin synthesized from tryptophan. It is called the “hormone of darkness” because it is secreted without light. At night, 10 times more melatonin circulates from the brain throughout the body, playing a significant role in regulating sleep and wake cycles.
The use of melatonin in the prevention, treatment, and healing of viral infections has become increasingly common. Protocols that mention taking the supplements vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, zinc, and quercetin also add melatonin to the list of recommendations. Melatonin combats the severity of viral pathogens through its ability to moderate inflammation, immune response (which leads to a cytokine storm), oxidative stress, lung injury, and respiratory distress (ARDS-acute respiratory distress syndrome).
One example of the dynamic nature of melatonin in immunity is via p21-activated kinases (PAKs) where enzymes assist pathogens infecting cells. Melatonin generates ANTI-PAK assets, which may protect against PAK1 binding and activation. When a pathogen activates PAK1 kinase, several viral disorders and illnesses can manifest in the body. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that assists other antioxidants such as glutathione. Glutathione is an amino acid often found deficient in advanced illnesses.
Research is ongoing regarding the numerous ways melatonin benefits immunity. In January, the Journal of Medical Virology published a meta-analysis of melatonin randomized controlled trials for COVID-19 patients. The study concluded that melatonin might be a helpful adjuvant therapy to improve clinical outcomes. Melatonin has been included in medical research for decades, demonstrating positive outcomes. The Mayo Clinic refers to it as “generally safe.” (Visit mayoclinic.org for more details regarding melatonin).
Melatonin is a beneficial daily additive to create cellular environments that encourage good health and deep sleep. Consider melatonin a partner in continued immune regulation before, during, and after pathogenic exposure. Acquire natural sunlight by day and avoid artificial light by night to achieve melatonin balance.
Foods that naturally increase melatonin include high protein sources with tryptophan such as eggs, fish, and cheese, or vegan options like bananas, tart cherries, pineapple, nuts, and oats. Melatonin supplements can be fashioned from microorganisms, animal products, or synthetically. Find a quality supplier to locate a form of melatonin appropriate for you.
Melatonin needs to be taken just before bed. Some people choose a sublingual liquid for quick absorption; others may prefer a pill or a capsule an hour or two before bed. If you wake in the middle of the night, you may decide to change to a “timed-release” version. Begin with 1 mg if you have never used melatonin before. If you are a seasoned user, you may increase up to 10 mg. However, discuss melatonin use and dosage with your health care provider to determine if it is appropriate for you.
Abundant Blessings getting yourself to bed and fending off pathogens! Dr. Shellie L. Rosen, PhD, DOM, L.Ac.