Aside from being a natural sleeping aid, what are other uses of melatonin in medicine? Are there enough data and research that would back these claims of it being a cancer treatment? How safe is it for my 80-year-old grandma who is suffering from laryngeal cancer?
Melatonin has been dubbed a lot of names but is “wonder hormone” one of them? Possibly. Melatonin is a human hormone produced by the pineal gland. Its production occurs in the absence of light and is therefore known as the hormone of darkness. Synthetic and bovine-derived forms of this hormone are now sold over the counter for a variety of uses.
There are a lot of melatonin uses in medicine one of them is the management of delayed sleep phase syndrome, jet lag and other sleep disorders caused by a botched circadian rhythm. The release of this hormone is triggered by absence of light especially at night but is disrupted by the tiniest amount of light. Increase of melatonin in the body produces drowsiness and fatigue, and facilitates sleep initiation.
One of melatonin’s major functions is the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm, it tells our body when to go up and about and when to snooze and charge our body. Disruption of the normal production and secretion of melatonin can mess up our sleep/wake cycle. Proper intake of melatonin supplements seems to help with problems such as these. It is currently widely known as a natural sleeping aid.
Another melatonin use in medicine would be in the treatment of cancer. Melatonin is primarily a potent antioxidant. It is twice as effective as vitamin E, and five times more effective than vitamin C and glutathione. A powerful free-radical scavenger, it prevents cancer cells from developing and arrest cancer cell multiplication. Being an antioxidant, it is also used as an anti-aging supplement to bring out the skin’s youthful beauty.
Melatonin also strengthens the body’s immune system preventing the occurrence of viral diseases and infections. Aside from the possibility of it being a form of cancer treatment, it is also currently being studied for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Melatonin uses in medicine are overwhelming it makes us wonder why it took us so long to realize its potentials.
This hormone may also be an effective treatment and a preventive measure for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other diseases that has to do with memory and learning impairment. Melatonin has been found to prevent tau hyperphosphorylation that results in neurofibrillary tangles in the hypothalamus commonly associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Clinical studies have also found melatonin to be effective in improving thyroid functions in peri-menopausal women, restores fertility and menstruation, and even prevent menopausal depression. Melatonin use in medicine can be very far-reaching. It can be a preventive treatment for migraines, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and it can even be used in managing the damaging effects of substance abuse such as alcohol and cocaine.
From modest claims of improving sleep patterns in jet lag to promoting longevity, potential melatonin uses in medicine is undeniable. However, extensive research is still needed to support these claims. These are all possibilities and they’re all good things considering its awe-inspiring functions but let’s not get overexcited. It’ll be safer if these claims carry hard proof under their belt. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and we’re hoping not for long. You have to know how much melatonin you should be taking and making sure that you aren’t overdosing on melatonin.