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Melatonin for More than Sleep – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 513
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Amanda Williams, MPH:
[00:00:40] We all understand that getting a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health, and oftentimes we consider melatonin being the key to successful sleep. But did you also know that melatonin, this very important hormone, plays a critical role in so many other functions in our body? And today I want to talk about that.† [00:00:56]
[00:00:56] I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, and when we think about melatonin, we understand this is our sleep hormone. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock and without adequate melatonin production, this can certainly have an impact on the quality of sleep that we have. But its role as a hormone in the body certainly goes well beyond that of just what we think of for sleep. And melatonin is a hormone that is produced primarily in the pineal gland within the brain. But we can also see that it is produced in other areas, other tissues within the body, including within the cells that make up our immune system. So this is why much of the research over the past couple of decades has been focusing on the impact of melatonin when it comes to immune health, when it comes to its potential anti-cancer activities. And this is where the interest really for me is so driving because when we recognize that certain hormones in the body do more than just one intended thing, then it really makes it quite fascinating to, to really see how it is that the endocrine system itself, how multimodal that actually is.† [00:02:19]
[00:02:20] When we think about things like immunosenescence and the aging of our immune system, which we know occurs just through the aging process itself. But when we can look and say, “Well, hey, you know, is melatonin and the rate at which melatonin is released, can this actually have an impact in terms of bolstering up our immune defenses?” And this is really quite interesting because one of the main causes of immunosenescence or the aging thereof, the immune system is due to the inadequate production of hormones that help to control the immune function itself. So when we think of melatonin, we now have to link that with our immune system and understanding that melatonin is working in different ways to help to enhance how our antibodies, for example, are responding to exposures to different viruses and bacterias and understanding how melatonin is actually playing a pretty important role when it comes to targeting inflammation and helping to enhance the activity of our T-cells. So there’s a lot more to melatonin than just sleep, and that’s what I wanted to zero in on today.† [00:03:29]
[00:03:30] And there’s a wonderful amount of research showing melatonin impact, even when it comes to that gut-brain connection and also when it comes to weight loss. They did a really interesting study back in 2017, and it was published in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity Journal, looking at how melatonin supplementation actually lowered oxidative stress and helped to regulate our fat cells. And this was a first-time look into the power of hormones when it came to melatonin specifically, understanding that melatonin supplementation really helped to facilitate body weight loss or reducing body weight and at the same time, help to bolster up our antioxidant defenses, which is key because the more we can fend off the free radicals and ease inflammation in the body, the better we are doing when it comes to maintaining cellular longevity. So there’s so much information out there when it comes to the impact of melatonin so far removed from just maintaining proper circadian rhythm, which in and of itself if that was its only function, great.† [00:04:38]
[00:04:38] But we can see that it plays a role even as a neuroprotector when we think about our brain and we think about different neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and MS and starting to see that link of how melatonin is actually protecting the brain cells from those types of disease states, which is really very important when you think about future research going into looking at, you know, trying to find a breakthrough medicine, for example, for Alzheimer’s disease or trying to get better management of folks who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. So many of the different actions that we now understand about melatonin and how it’s impacting our aging process and helps us in terms of anti-aging comes down to, you know, how it’s regulating gene expression, how it’s targeting the inflammatory pathways, for example, and the different cytokines that are released, how we can now see its direct interaction with antibodies and those cellular immune cells to really allow the body that ability to fend off bacterial infection or a viral infection.† [00:05:46]
[00:05:47] We can also see how it is, and this was a lot of this research came through in that setting of brain health, was how melatonin is protecting and restoring the mitochondrial function, which is really very important because we know that with mitochondrial dysfunction, we get this lack of integrity within the cells. The cell starts to lose its focus and no longer is working the way that we need it to work. And so melatonin is actually helping with that. We can see the interaction of melatonin and sirtuin. We know that the sirtuins, SIRT1 in particular, is very important when it comes to maintaining cellular longevity. Looking at how it helps to enhance the production of endogenous antioxidants, things like superoxide dismutase and glutathione, for example. So there’s a lot of very important roles that melatonin, our sleep hormone, is actually playing in the human body, and it’s really, for me, an area of interest because oftentimes people will ask me about melatonin and, “Should I be taking melatonin? And if so, you know, how much should I take? And this is going to vary from one person to the next?” Obviously, we’re dealing with a hormone. But when you look at the science of how even high dose melatonin can really potentially wonderful benefits when it comes to say, for example, weight loss or when it comes to bolstering up the immune defenses, it really is quite fascinating. There was a study that showed how melatonin actually protect the kidneys after radiation treatment, and it’s like, “Well, who would have ever thought that melatonin would be this protector in chief?” And it is. And part of the reason that it does that is through its unique ability to help to support our endogenous antioxidants, that glutathione, that superoxide dismutase, thinking about things like catalase, for example, being able to build those levels back up to offset the negative impact that free radicals actually bring on is really quite fascinating in and of itself.† [00:07:58]
[00:07:59] There was a study that the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, that’s a huge, huge journal, that they came out and they talked about how there was a direct link between low levels of melatonin and a greater risk of developing type two diabetes. I mean, this is very interesting because now you can start to connect these dots and you say, okay, well, we know that sleep is important for our health. We recognize that melatonin, gut-based, is playing a role when it comes to fat metabolism and the way that our adipocytes are actually working, which is why you now see these weight loss studies done with melatonin. So it certainly makes sense that when you have low levels of melatonin, that this could potentially be linked to a metabolic condition such as type two diabetes. So thinking about its action in the body and how it’s affecting so many different tissues and this is the important thing about hormones, is that they are going systemically and they are having their little bit of impact over here and a little bit of impact over here. So we’re seeing how the melatonin receptors within the pancreas are actually working in a sense for energy metabolism and for that regulation of body weight. So there’s so much interesting research out there on melatonin. I just wanted to bring this to your attention because many times when we think about our sleep, we do think about melatonin, which is key. But we also have to understand that if we are walking around with a state of melatonin deficiencies, we’re lacking this key hormone, it can be impacting so many other things besides our sleep, and we know that quality of sleep matters. But we also recognize that our immune system matters, maintaining healthy weight and being able to fend off oxidative stress. All of these are key components to aging gracefully and melatonin, we now recognize as being a huge player in this, which is really quite interesting.† [00:09:57]
[00:09:58] So that is all that I have for you for today, I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting invitehealth.com/podcast. Now do make sure that you subscribe or leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.† [00:09:58]