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How Melatonin Can Support a Healthy Sleep Cycle and More
May 11, 2022 12:19 PM
Did you know that melatonin is a powerful free radical scavenger? This means that it helps protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called radicals. Melatonin is also naturally produced in the pineal gland and is present in high amounts in the GI tract. We will discuss some of the ways that melatonin supports health and wellness.
Melatonin and the body
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is responsible for regulating the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm. The production of melatonin increases at night, and decreases during the day. This hormone is also available in supplement form, and is often used to treat jet lag or insomnia. When taken as a supplement, melatonin works by resetting the body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, melatonin may also help to reduce anxiety and improve mood. As a result, this hormone plays an important role in regulating the body's sleep-wake cycle.
How does melatonin support a healthy sleep cycle?
Melatonin is a hormone that help regulate the sleep cycle. The production of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. As a result, melatonin levels typically start to rise in the evening as the sun sets, and they remain high throughout the night. In the morning, light exposure causes melatonin levels to drop, helping to wake us up and start the day. Melatonin supplements can be used to help people who have difficulty sleeping and staying asleep. This hormone helps to reset the body's natural sleep cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. As a result, melatonin can be an effective way to support a healthy sleep cycle.
What are some of the other benefits of melatonin?
It can help to boost the immune system, protect against cancer, and reduce inflammation. Research suggests that melatonin may also have neuroprotective effects and could be beneficial for people with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.
Tips for getting a good night's sleep
Most people need about seven to eight hours of sleep a day. However, many people find it difficult to get enough rest. There are a number of things you can do to improve your sleep habits. First, create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Second, create a relaxing bedtime routine. This might include taking a warm shower, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Third, create a comfortable sleep environment by making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Fourth, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, while alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle. Finally, try not to use electronic devices in bed. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's natural sleep rhythm and take melatonin. By following these tips, you can improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep.
Research on melatonin began in the 1950s, and since then, numerous studies have been conducted on its potential health benefits. Some of the most promising research has found that melatonin may help to prevent cancer. In one study, melatonin supplements were found to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by half. Other research has shown that melatonin may help to protect against colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. Additionally, melatonin has been shown to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy.
While more research is needed to confirm the exact role of melatonin in cancer prevention, the available evidence suggests that it could play a significant role in protecting against this disease. Therefore, it may be worth considering supplementing with melatonin if you are at high risk for cancer or are undergoing treatment for this disease.
Why melatonin is a powerful anticancer indolamine
April 19, 2019 02:33 PM
Traditionally, melatonin supplements have been taken to induce a full night's rest, as well as aiding individuals in easing into a deep slumber. Since melatonin is a natural angiogenesis inhibitor, it actually has the ability to reduce the significance of tumors that are located within the body. The process of inhibiting angiogenesis is an essential part of treating cancer patients because it helps target the cells with oxygen. This helps regulate cell migration as well as invasion.
"A team of researchers from Iran suggests that melatonin has powerful anticancer properties."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-02-27-why-melatonin-is-a-powerful-anticancer-indolamine.html
Top 7 Foods That Boost Serotonin
September 01, 2017 12:14 PM
Serotonin helps regulate body temperature, mood, sleeping patterns and aids in digestion, among other benefits. It's common for those that have low levels of serotonin to experience depression and many antidepressant medications raise serotonin levels to combat depression. If you want to raise your serotonin levels naturally(or tryptophan a serotonin precursor), without the side effects involved with prescription medications, you may want to try adding these foods to your diet. They include frits, vegetable, eggs, meats and even chocolate
"Serotonin plays an important role in controlling our circadian rhythms - our body’s internal clock."
Read more: https://www.healthambition.com/foods-boost-serotonin/
Does Melatonin Decline As We Age?
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal glands. The circadian production of melatonin is tied to the day/night cycle. Light through the retina signals the pineal glands to suppress its production. Lack of light stimulation (at night) results to increased production of melatonin. The increased hormone production at night is associated with a good night’s sleep. According to a study, melatonin significantly reduces sleep latency and increases sleep efficiency. It has thus been used to treat insomnia.
Aging and Insomnia
Insomnia is commonplace among the elderly. As we age, sleep problems which include difficulty in falling asleep and maintaining the sleep are so rampant. This is so because melatonin production declines with age. With age comes the disruption of the circadian rhythms associated with the production of melatonin. To this end, melatonin supplements come handy to the elderly in maintaining a good night’s sleep.
Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
There is more to this hormone than a good night’s sleep and normal aging. There are evidences that melatonin suppresses Alzheimer’s disease. AD is the leading cause of dementia among individuals older than 65 years. Lack of sleep is a common symptom among AD patients and feels bad but sundowning (worsening of symptoms during evening hours) is worse. According to Netherlands Institute of Brain Research, the declining production of melatonin among the elderly not only affects the circadian rhythms but also enhances the development of Alzheimer.
Melatonin as an Antioxidant
Melatonin production starts to decline at age 60. This is the onset of diseases like AD which leads to increased production of free radicals in the brain. According to a review paper written in 2000, there is a lot of pathological changes among AD patients’ autopsied brains as a result of free radical activity. Melatonin carries antioxidant properties which fight the free radicals and protect the brain neurons.
Melatonin is a powerful hormone. Its function in sustaining optimal human health is crucial. New discoveries are being made on this versatile hormone. The fact that its production starts to decline at 60 only means that you need to use supplements and not fret over the onset of AD or insomnia. It is clear that besides being harmless and natural in treating insomnia, Melatonin is the most effective way of averting deleterious aging effects.
Can Melatonin Be Used For Fibromyalgia?
December 28, 2012 04:19 PM
Fibromyalgia is a condition that may be very frustrating and has no known cure currently. Due to its complexity and also the number of symptoms that occur during an infection with fibromyalgia, one may be moody, anxious, depressed or irritable. Melatonin, a natural hormone which controls sleep patterns, can help relieve some symptoms of fibromyalgia and promote one's feelings of well-being.
Melatonin hormone is produced by the brain's pineal gland. It is majorly responsible for controlling the sleep-wake cycle; called the circadian rhythm. The secretion of melatonin is influenced by exposure to light. Whenever it gets dark, melatonin production rises. Conversely, during exposure to sunlight, the production of melatonin is lowered. Several people employ the use of melatonin supplements to promote symptoms of insomnia, since it can aid to reset one's body clock and even make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
How melanin treats Fibromyalgia
Disturbances of sleep and the frequent disruption of circadian rhythms occur during fibromyalgia. Melatonin has always been proven to synchronize the circadian rhythms and promote the quality of sleep. Excess damage by free-radicals is quite common in fibromyalgia patients. Melatonin as well as its metabolites have been discovered to be potent scavengers of free radicals and indirect antioxidants.
Elevated Nitric Oxide In Patients
Some studies have shown that synthesis of nitric oxide is elevated in fibromyalgia patients. Melatonin acts as a potent inhibitor of a rate-limiting enzyme in the production of nitric oxide. Depression is at times a symptom or maybe an overlapping fibromyalgia condition.
Melatonin As An Antidepressant:
Melatonin has also been proven to be an antidepressant. There is a component of melatonin that has been synthesized in the pharmaceutical industry and is now being enhanced as an antidepressant. Lyrica, antiepileptic drugs, have been proven to be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Melatonin has been found to work as an antiepileptic too.
December 27, 2012 01:59 PM
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant/hormone secreted by a small endocrine gland in the human brain. The hormone is responsible for sleep-wake cycle modulation and fine tuning of your body's "internal clock". In other words: when it gets dark, your pineal gland increases melatonin production, which induces drowsiness and makes you sleepy. When light conditions change (e.g. daytime), your body decreases melatonin production. If you expose yourself to an intense source of light during the night, or keep spending time in a dark environment during the day, you can confuse your body and disrupt melatonin production.
The hormone was also observed to affect the production and the discharge rate of female sex hormones.
As one gets older, his pineal gland produces less and less melatonin, which leads to a conclusion that melatonin is age dependent (children have the highest concentration of melatonin). The fact that our body produces melatonin to "sedate" itself when the sun goes down, implied that the hormone could be used to help people suffering from sleeping disorders, desynchronosis (jet lag) or similar conditions.
This served as a basis to study and use positive health effects of the hormone. Melatonin is not a miracle-cure, but it CAN improve the sleep quality of insomniacs, women in menopause, benzodiazepine (valium) withdrawal patients and people who suffer from ADHD. Melatonin also improves the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents in breast cancer treatments and increases the chance of survival in prostate cancer patients.
If you are a healthy middle-aged person, your body will produce between 5-25 micrograms of melatonin per night (80 times less than a single melatonin capsule). This is a good indicator of recommended dosage. In fact, you should start with 0.1 - 03 mg per night, an hour before bedtime. If that doesn't help, you may increase the dosage up to 10mg a day. However, do not exceed 10 mg per night before consulting your doctor, as that may cause an overdose.
Anything above 10 mg is risky without a professional guidance . If you consider the fact that you can overdose even with a sufficient amount of vitamins, melatonin is not an exception, and should be used with caution. Typical overdose symptoms include drowsiness, upset stomach, headache, confusion, lethargy, psychotic thinking, tremors, seizures and liver issues. If you experience multiple symptoms at the same time, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Can Melatonin Help Me Sleep?
December 20, 2012 12:22 PM
What is melatonin?
Melatonin can be described as a hormone generated in the pineal gland found in the brain. It controls the body circadian rhythms such as sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin in the blood increase before you fall asleep due to darkness (Lack of sunshine).
Where to find melatonin
Melatonin occurs naturally in humans and plants. Natural melatonin quantity produced decrease with age. Older people produce very little quantities of it.
It is a synthetic medication that is produced in the laboratories. It is available in pill or liquid forms. The pills can be put in the cheek, underneath the tongue or swallowed. This permits direct absorption in the body. Melatonin supplements are available in health food shops.
It is also found in foods, in small quantities, such as milk, chicken meat, turkey, and peanuts but in small quantities.
Melatonin and sleep
Melatonin does not work for every kind of insomnia or sleeping disorders. Your body needs to be ready for sleep for melatonin to be effective. It is safe to use melatonin supplements in low doses long term.
Melatonin treats insomnia, autism in children, and as a sleep reliever after withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs use. It is also very significant for changing sleep/wake patterns for people who work schedules changes regularly. It can also be used to calm individuals before anesthesia is administered for surgery purposes.
The body has an internal clock that regulates sleeping cycle and waking hours. The body clock regulates the amount of melatonin produced each day. Melatonin production is affected by light.
For effective treatment of cycle sleep, make sure you take the supplements at the appropriate time of the day (Night time).
Use the right method and dosage for it to be helpful.
Consuming the sleep supplement at the inappropriate time of the day can lead to biological clock reset. It is essential to understand the right quantity, time of taking and its effectiveness. Taking 1-10mg of melatonin every day restores the pace in people experiencing insomnia synchronizing them to duration of 1day.
Melatonin helps enhance sleep.
It enhances sleepiness feeling and can intensify the duration of sleep. This supplement has been applied successfully for improving sleep in healthy people and also decreasing jet lag feeling during travels. Remember to consult a physician if you are experiencing sleep issues. Give melatonin a try start with lower doses like 1 mg before bed time and gradually increase till it becomes effective.
Melatonin spray: The Perfect Remedy for Insomnia
May 10, 2012 11:02 AM
Are you experiencing difficulty in sleeping or feel tired in the morning every day? Probably you are suffering from insomnia. Getting enough sleep is an aspect that you cannot just choose to overlook. Receiving the desired amount of sleep helps your body in a plethora of ways. Most people even get overstressed due to lack of sleep, an aspect that can even adversely affect their quality of life in the long term and short term both. Sleep helps to boost the immune system, repair damaged cells, boost your thinking capacity and also generally helps the body to deal with the daily stresses in life.
If at all you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, you most definitely have visited your local healthcare provider recently. If they prescribed some medication for you, do they really seem to work?
You might have gotten prescription of NyQuil and Tylenol. If these options do not work, there is only one way out that case, and that is the use of melatonin spray. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland that is located at the center of the brain. As experts state, this gland is normally inactive during the day but later during the night, it secretes melatonin into the blood stream. Melatonin is normally produced between nine at night till sunrise. The amount of melatonin produced by the body tends to reduce with age. Children produce more melatonin than adults. This explains why most cases of sleeping disorders are reported in the elderly rather than kids.
Melatonin is sold as a sleeping aid in many different forms. You most likely know about the capsules. Most of these pills do not work for many people unless they are taken for some time so that the system can get used to. Due to the limitations and lack of effectiveness witnessed in the use of capsules, companies manufacturing synthetic melatonin have now started producing melatonin spray. The melatonin spray has a higher absorption rate as compared to pills and thus more effective.
So how does melatonin spray work?
Well, this sleeping support spray helps melatonin to distribute and get absorbed evenly into the system without necessarily having to interfere with other minerals, supplements and food vitamins. If at all you are part of the population that is experiencing difficulty in sleeping, do not waste much of your time investing in less effective over the counter pills such as Tylenol PM. You can do your body a very big favor by adopting the use of melatonin spray.
This kind of spray works effectively to ensure that you regain back your sleep. It is also safer to use as compared to other sleeping aids. At least with this option, you do not have to keep worrying about side effects meaning that this is a much safer alternative. Even though the benefits you would gain from the use of melatonin spray are numerous, the safety of this alternative is still in question in various parts of the globe. It is therefore important for you to consult your doctor before you can start using this sleep aid. Working with your doctor is much recommended if at all you suffer from certain health conditions.
How Does Melatonin Improve Sleep?
April 06, 2012 07:59 AM
Melatonin And Sleep
Sleep is a natural part of human life and an activity that any living human being has to indulge in. In fact, even the mentally ill who are believed to be able to go without sleep are brought down by it at one point or another. Contrary to what most people believe that sleep only has to take place at night, research has established that the cycle of sleep keeps alternating and does that sleep does not entirely have to take place at night. It can even occur successfully during the day. However, exposure to darkness and light regulates sleep in humans. It is said that exposure to light stimulates hormonal activity to make a person feel sleepy or awake.
The Brain And Sleep
In the brain, there is a nerve center called the Supra-Chiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) that works by starting signals to the other sections of the brain by controlling hormones, temperature of the body and other functions that also play numerous roles in making people to feel either sleepy or wide awake. The SCN works in the notion that once the body is exposed to first light every day, the clock starts to conduct various activities that will ensure that the person is awake like raising the temperature of the body and also the release of certain hormones that help in stimulating the body such as Cortisol. The clock also delays production hormones such as Melatonin that is associated with the onset of sleep until that time when darkness shall arrive.
Melatonin Is A Hormone In The body
Melatonin is a hormone that is part of the sleep and wake cycle of humans. However, it has to be noted that taking too much of the pill does not make one to sleep faster or even stay asleep for a longer period of time. The first step that everyone having sleeping problems should take is to consult a doctor or a physician. This will help in making the person fully understand the reason for the sleeping problem rather than going for Melatonin straight away. Melatonin is natural hormone that is made by a gland in the body known as pineal gland. The gland is shaped like a pea and found in the brain. The gland is only active during sunset when it is dark. When active, it stirs the production of sleep and wake cycle hormone by the SCN. As a result of this, the blood Melatonin level sharply rises and one begins to feel less alert thus prompting sleep.
Conditions That Slow Down Melatonin Production
Bright light also inhibits formation of Melatonin. However, for the person to be able to fall asleep, they will have to get to a darker surrounding to enable the formation of Melatonin that is sufficient to cause sleep. The hormone is naturally contained in certain foods and the reason it is sometimes sold as a dietary supplement. Taking a typical dose of Melatonin pill is able to elevate the blood melatonin levels up to 20 times normal. To be able to solve your sleep problem using melatonin, always use the correct dose at the right time of the day.
Melatonin, Sleep, and insomnia
February 08, 2012 08:01 AM
The pattern according to which a human being wakes up and remains awake during the day and falls asleep at night is regulated by a hormone known as Melatonin. This hormone was first discovered by a team of researchers that was led by a Yale dermatologist by the name of Dr. Aaron Lerner. While Lerner passed away on the 3rd of February, 2007, however, his discovery was quite groundbreaking in medical science.
Initially back in 1958, the Melatonin hormone that was isolated from the pineal gland inside a frog's brain was believed to be a cure for skin pigmentation problems. However, it was later discovered that rather than helping to treat skin pigmentation problems, this hormone had a role in regulating the wake and sleep pattern of human beings. There, Dr. Aaron Lerner and his team of researchers came to conclusion that sleep related problems; especially insomnia could be treated using this hormone.
Almost millions of Americans these days are suffering from sleep disorders include insomnia, narcolepsy, etc. Insomnia, in particular, is not really a disease but is merely a disorder or a symptom that makes an individual sleepless and makes it difficult for them to fall asleep. In fact, people suffering from insomnia are hardly able to get any quality sleep, especially at night, which is most essential for them. Those people who have had a couple of sleepless nights can be certain that they are suffering from insomnia, however, people rarely visit a doctor when suffering from this sleep disorder.
There are a variety of reasons that cause insomnia. Anxiety, depression, discomfort, specific medical illnesses, stress, etc. are some of the most common causes of insomnia. Insomnia can last for both short and long periods of time. When it comes to safely treating insomnia, the melatonin hormone can be used for this purpose. Presently there are numerous natural melatonin supplements available in the market that can be used by insomniacs as a remedy for the sleep disorder they are suffering from.
It was somewhere during the mid 1990s when this hormone became available in the form of pills. At that time travelers who frequently suffered from jet lag used supplements containing this hormone.
These days, after further research claims are being made that many other benefits are also offered by this antioxidant hormone. Research has proven that headaches and migraines, which are among the causes of insomnia, can be effectively relieved by using supplements containing melatonin. It is believed that the certain cancers can also be prevented from further developing with the help of this hormone.
As for insomnia, it is a sleep disorder that disrupts the natural sleep and wake pattern of the body. This hormone, therefore, restores that pattern back to normal causing people to feel sleepy at the right time when they actually need sleep. This sleep is being promoted by a natural hormone so these supplements cannot be considered drugs and neither do they cause an individual to feel as if they are drugged. Insomniacs will simply begin feeling naturally sleepy and this is why it is safe to use melatonin supplements to treat insomnia.
Give it a try and feel the difference
Melatonin, What is it, Sleep And How it Helps!
December 22, 2010 03:20 PM
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone secreted during the hours of darkness by the light-sensitive pineal gland located in the brain and also by bone marrow, epithelial cells and lymphocytes. Melatonin plays a role in the human circadian cycle because of the fact that it is secreted only when it is dark. It can therefore be used to treat sleeping disorders, although it also affects conditions such as fibromyalgia and depression.
Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant, particularly protecting the DNA from free radical oxidation and studies have indicated a potential application in inhibiting the aggregation of amyloid beta protein in the brain that promotes Alzheimer's disease. It not only reduces the production of cholesterol in the gall bladder, but also increases the rate of conversion of cholesterol to bile, thus reducing the amount available for oxidation in the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis.
A melatonin supplement is also believed to be an effective treatment for migraine and helps the gall bladder to expel gallstones, rendering them less likely to become a problem.
Melatonin and Sleep
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted mainly by the pineal gland, a small pea-sized gland in the brain that is sensitive to light in that it secretes this hormone only during the hours of darkness. For this reason, melatonin can be used to help people sleep earlier and awake earlier, by shifting the circadian cycle to an earlier time.
An interesting factor learned from the effect of light on melatonin is that it is suppressed only by blue light (460-480 nanometers) and by wearing blue filtering glasses it is possible to achieve the same effect as taking a supplement of the hormone. That is, to sleep earlier and waken earlier.
People suffering jet lag, or who have to adapt to differing shift work patterns, benefit by taking melatonin, and it has also been used in helping with benzodiazepine withdrawal and helping people to stop smoking. You must let your doctor know you are using it, and in many countries it is available only by prescription.
June 13, 2005 01:18 PM
by Cal Orey Energy Times, August 2, 1999
Depression plagues the creative and the mundane. The disparate desperate driven to distress by depression include painters, poets, actors and musicians as well as truck drivers, clerks, electricians and physicists. The victim list encompasses Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Audrey Hepburn, Virginia Woolf and Ludwig von Beethoven, as well as millions of other sharers of melancholy misery.
More than 17 million American men and women experience depression in one form or another every year, according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) in Alexandria, Virginia. This includes the deeply destructive major, or clinical, depression, the wide mood swings of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and dysthymia, a milder, long-lasting form of emotional suffering.
Twice as Many Women In the depression scenario, women suffer twice as much: Two times as many women as men endure clinical depression, reports the NMHA. The mood-deteriorating effects of the hormonal disruptions women are heir to may be partly to blame.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one of 10 Americans wades through at least one depressive swamp sometime during his or her life.
The good news: Research shows that diet and lifestyle can lower your risk of depression.
Birth of the Blues
Nowadays, mounting evidence suggests that depression may result more from physiological factors than psychological woes.
Some of the hidden reasons why you may be depressed include: nutritional deficiencies, exacerbated by overdosing on too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol and high fat foods; allergies; anxiety and chronic stress; and a chemical imbalance in the brain's gray matter. According to the NMHA, people with depression often possess too little or too large a quantity of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Changes in levels of these brain chemicals may cause, or contribute to, clinical depression.
The NMHA also reports that an imbalance of melatonin, a chemical made by the body's pineal gland (located at the base of the brain), contributes to a form of wintertime depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This hormone is made at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, the body may oversupply this hormone during winter's shortened daylight hours.
Since the B vitamins are often involved in the production of energy, and a large component of depression may encompass the inability to get out of bed and deal with the world, experts believe that at least some of the signs of depression are linked to B deficiencies. For instance, studies cited in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima) by Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, demonstrate that folate deficiency and lack of vitamin B12 can compromise mental health (Drugs 45, 1993: 623-36; Lancet 336, 1990: 392-5).
Inositol: This vitamin is also part of the B vitamin complex, and it, too, has shown its ability to lift spirits. Research work in Israel shows that daily inositol given to 28 depressed patients for four weeks produced an overall positive effect. (Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 7:2, May 1997: 147-55). Inositol is found in whole, unprocessed grains, citrus fruits (except lemons) and brewer's yeast.
NADH: Allan Magaziner, DO, in his book The Idiot's Complete Guide To Living Longer & Healthier (Alpha), reports that brain energizing NADH, a metabolite of vitamin B3, enhances the production of the key neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. "In a recent clinical trial," he claims, "nearly all patients given NADH for depression reported improvement in their symptoms and the absence of side effects or adverse reactions."
Another substance winning the spotlight for its effect on mood is SAM-e: S-adenosylmethionine. In New York on February 24, a symposium coordinated by the American Health Foundation met to hear researchers present information from studies of SAM-e's ability to possibly ease depression.
"SAM-e is a natural product. You and I have it but as people age it declines in production in the body. And that's why we believe supplementation in older people is a beneficial means of bringing that back up and helping people that have depression," said the lead symposium researcher, John H. Weisburger, PhD, MD, Director Emeritus, American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York.
Another researcher, Teodoro Bottiglieri, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Studies and Neurology, Director of Neuropharmacology at Baylor University reported: "SAM-e has been shown to enhance brain dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter metabolism and receptor function. It may also aid in the repair of myelin that surrounds nerve cells. These mechanisms are likely to be responsible for the antidepressant effect of SAM-e."
(Bottiglieri is co-author with Richard Brown, MD, and Carol Colman of Stop Depression Now, a report on the powers of SAM-e just published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.)
SAM-e was first touted as an antidepressant in Italy in 1973. It's been reported that nearly 40 clinical trials demonstrate its beneficial effects as a natural antidepressant.
For instance, an analysis of more than 1000 people suffering depression showed that the effect of antidepressants in patients taking SAM-e was 17% to 38% better than dummy preparations. Conventional antidepressants show a 20% effectiveness rate (Bressa G. Acta Neurol Scand S154, 1994: 7-14).
5-HTP: Another popular supplement to boost mood and relieve depression is hydroxytryptophan. "This medication is actually a brain chemical that is metabolized from tryptophan into serotonin," says Magaziner. And since low serotonin levels have been linked with depression, and certain prescribed medications may up serotonin levels, 5-HTP is in demand.
"One of the more impressive studies supporting the efficacy of 5-HTP for depression evaluated 100 people who had previously found conventional antidepressant therapy to be inadequate. Forty-three of these folks reported a complete recovery, and eight showed significant improvement," reports Magaziner. Not only has 5-HTP been shown to work slightly better than drugs known as SSRIs (these include Prozac), he adds, it has fewer side effects than standard antidepressants, too. DHEA: Medical experts also believe that levels of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may influence mood. Ray Sahelian, MD, in his book All About DHEA (Avery) reports an interesting study conducted by Dr. Owen Wolkowitz of the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. A group of six depressed middle-aged and elderly individuals who took DHEA found that within a month they had better memory and mood. (Biological Psychiatry 41, 1997: 311-18.) "In addition," adds Sahelian, "other studies have also found that DHEA increases energy levels and a sense of well being." But follow package directions: Some people complain of greater irritability and overstimulation with DHEA, when they take large amounts.
St. John's wort: still the most touted natural therapy for defeating depression. In Europe, 23 clinical studies, reviewed in the August 3, 1996 British Medical Journal, found that this herb, also known as Hypericum perforatum, can be helpful in alleviating cases of mild to moderate depression. The work, which included 757 patients, has shown that hypericum produced fewer side effects than conventional anti-depressants.
Although experts have never satisfactorily explained exactly how St. John's wort benefits the brain, some theorize that it boosts serotonin levels. And it can help SAD sufferers.
"In a recent study of 20 people with SAD, four weeks' worth of St. John's wort significantly alleviated feelings of depression. Those people who added full-spectrum lights to the treatment program gained an even greater benefit," notes Dr. Magaziner.
Valerian: Anxiety and stress, which can cause depression and insomnia, may be helped by this herb, says the prolific Dr. Sahelian in his book Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb (St. Martin's). In 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave), Steven Foster reports that "Ten controlled clinical studies have been published on valerian...one of which suggests that valerian should be used for two to four weeks before daily mood and sleep patterns improve."
Amino Acid Help
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, may also help improve mood. (For more on protein, see page 65.) These chemicals are used by the body to construct neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that facilitate mental activity.
For instance, the amino acid L-tyrosine is necessary for the formation of transmitters adrenaline and dopamine. This substance, therefore, is given to alleviate depression and anxiety.
The substance L-dopa which is given to victims of Parkinson's disease is concocted from tyrosine. And several antidepressants alleviate bad moods by boosting the interaction of brain chemicals related to tyrosine.
In addition, since tyrosine is used to make adrenaline, this amino acid may be helpful for folks trying to cope with the mood problems related to stress.
Another amino acid that experts believe useful for better moods, L-methionine, is used by the body to make choline, a crucial substance for brain function. (Choline goes into the formation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.)
Methionine has been given to people suffering from schizophrenia and depression as well as to those with Parkinson's. Methionine plays a number of crucial roles in the brain and body since it helps form other vital proteins.
For those concerned about preserving a positive mood, researchers are positive that smoking worsens depression. A study at the Department of Behavioral Services at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan found that daily smokers run twice the risk for major depression compared to those who only smoked occasionally.
Unfortunately, the investigators found that not only did smoking seem to lead to depression, depression, in turn, led to more smoking (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2/99).
"Smokers who have depression tend to see their smoking become a daily habit and it may be because they use nicotine to medicate their depressed mood," reported Naomi Breslau, PhD, who headed the research. Over a five year period, the researchers looked at about a thousand young people aged 21 to 30. They found that daily smokers generally start smoking in adolescence, and those who report early depression are three times as likely to eventually become daily smokers.
If you're feeling down, don't give up hope. Although depression can prove to be a depressingly complicated malady, daily, healthy habits can offset its effects. Getting consistent exercise, dousing your cigarettes and turning to herbal and nutritional help to treat mild depression may defeat those blues.
Don't Be Blue - Does winter got you singing the blues?
June 13, 2005 09:49 AM
Don't Be Blue by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, October 10, 2003
Have the gray skies of winter got you singing the blues? Do you feel tired, lost your creative spark, need extra sleep, can't get control of your appetite? If you nod in agreement to these queries, you may be one of the millions of people affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder), also known as the "winter blues" or "cabin fever." Time to lighten up, throw off those lowdown winter blues and step up to more enjoyable feelings. Experts who study the winter blahs now acknowledge that you can blame much of winter's crankiness, moodiness and restlessness on short, cloudy days and a lack of sunlight. Low levels of sunlight trigger changes in hormones, increasing levels of melatonin (a hormone that normally helps you go to sleep) and decreasing serotonin (a hormone that improves mood). For many people, this hormonal tumult translates into a craving for sugary foods, a need for more sleep and a reduced sex drive.
Although the exact cause of SAD is not known, researchers believe the pineal gland plays an important role in this disorder. This gland, located beneath the brain, makes melatonin in response to the amount of light that enters your eyes. Melatonin hormone is only produced in darkness. The darker your bedroom, the greater your melatonin production.
Conversely, melatonin production usually stops in the morning when you open your eyes to the day's new light. But research shows that the production of melatonin climbs too high in folks who suffer from SAD. That excessive amount of the hormone results in a sedative effect upon the body.
Many people with SAD suffer muscular aches and pains, along with headaches and a faltering immune system. Consequently, they often feel like they have the flu all winter long.
More women than men suffer from SAD (and, apparently, depression in general), though the reason is unclear.
According to Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Winter Blues (Guilford Press), "about 6% of the US population may suffer from SAD, with an additional 14% suffering from subsyndromal [less severe] SAD." Because less sunlight reaches the northern latitudes, folks in Washington state and Alaska suffer the highest rates of SAD. People in sun-soaked Florida suffer the least.
How do you escape SAD? If a winter vacation to the sunny South is out of the question for you, a natural program can brighten the wintry gray days and provide relief.
Turn on the Light
The most common treatment for SAD is light (also called phototherapy), which cuts back the body's manufacture of melatonin. Sitting in front of a special light box for about 30 minutes each morning during the winter months can often offset SAD. But the effects of this treatment vary from individual to individual, and some may be more sensitive to the light therapy than others.
For artificial light treatment, consult an appropriately trained healthcare professional who can design a plan that finds the optimal intensity, length and time of day for the treatment that best works for you. Researchers at Columbia University have found that timing the light therapy with the nuances of a person's biological clock doubles its effectiveness (Archives of General Psychiatry 1/15/01).
On the other hand, walking in natural light can banish these problems, and research finds that natural light frequently offers the best results (Journal of Affective Disorders 1996 Apr 12; 37(2-3):109-20). In this study, people either participated in a daily walk outdoors in natural light or were treated for half an hour in artificial light. At the end of the study, participants were tested for melatonin and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Both were found to be lower after exposure to natural light than artificial light.
Roll up those sleeves when you're outdoors this winter: Curiously enough, studies show that light produces physiological effects by being absorbed through both the eyes and the skin.
Research now shows that light on the skin alters the hemoglobin in the blood. "This research suggests that SAD might be a disorder of the blood rather than a brain disorder," says Dan A. Oren, MD, of the Yale University School of Medicine (Science 1/12/98).
Vitamin D Need
If you suffer from seasonal depression, you may also not be getting enough vitamin D. During the sun-reduced winter months, stores of this fat-soluble vitamin drop, since the skin makes it when exposed to sunlight. When you step out into daylight, the sebaceous glands near the surface of your body produce an oily substance from cholesterol that rises to the skin's surface. Then, ultraviolet B rays from the sun convert this oily substance (7-dehydrocholesterol) into what is called previtamin D3. Finally, body heat converts previtamin D3 into vitamin D3 (a form of vitamin D).
Twenty minutes of daily sunlight exposure on the hands, arms and face can give adequate amounts of vitamin D to light-skinned people. Dark-skinned people may need longer exposure. Supplements can help: In one study, researchers found that people who took vitamin D had significant improvement in depression scale scores (Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 1999; 3(1):5-7).
As far as vitamin D production goes, you can never receive too much sunlight (although overexposure resulting in a burn is never a good idea). The body absorbs vitamin D from the skin as needed and never accepts more than is required. (If you take supplements, follow package directions so you don't get too much of a good thing.) Food sources of vitamin D include eggs, fortified milk, cod liver oil, salmon and other fish.
Walk Away the Blues
Research also shows that exercise can chase the winter blues and that a little bit of exertion goes a long way. Exercise physiologists at Duke University found that little as eight minutes of physical activity can improve your mood.
Exercise stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, feel-good hormones that help reduce pain and depression. Physical activity can also increase serotonin levels, those neurotransmitters that brighten emotions. These two hormones work together to make you feel better: Serotonin improves the functioning of your mind while endorphins produce beneficial effects on your body. In one study, researchers reported that exercise increased vitality and improved mood even in cases of prolonged depression (Psychological Medicine 1998 Nov; 28(6):1359-64).
To banish SAD, engage in an outdoor activity in natural light, or get active indoors under bright lights.
As you can see, much of the research into low, wintry moods suggests that sun worshippers may have been right all along: Exposure in winter to our friendly, local neighborhood star offers impressive mood benefits.