Melatonin- Not Just for Sleep
BySarah Axtell, ND •June 24, 2021
We classically think of melatonin as a trusty sleep-aid. And it is! But there are so many other benefits, notably improving ovarian function, supporting gut function, and acting as a potent antioxidant.
Melatonin and the Reproductive System
Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland of your brain. After production, melatonin is released in the bloodstream and then exerts its effects in various organ systems in the body, including the reproductive system. In fact, one of the richest sites of melatonin is the ovaries.
Melatonin can be helpful for improving ovarian function in anovulation, infertility, PCOS, and perimenopausal hot flashes.
Melatonin and Your Gut
Clinical studies have demonstrated that the administration of melatonin improves symptoms in patients with IBS and GERD. Deficiencies in melatonin have also been linked to increased permeability of the gut or “leaky gut.” After all, the gut contains 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland!
Melatonin: A Potent Anti-Cancer Agent
One of melatonin’s most important features is its ability to scavenge free radicals, thus combating oxidative stress. It is capable of inhibiting proliferation in many different cancer cell types. It does this by attacking and destroying cancer cells, this is known as apoptosis. Melatonin stimulates our immune systems to produce interleukin-2. This cytokine helps our bodies identify and attack the cells that have mutated and turned into cancer cells. Finally, this hormone works as an anti-angiogenic which helps stop tumors from forming their own blood supply which they need to grow.
Dosing for melatonin is highly individual. I find most patients do well between 2-4 mg approximately 60 minutes before bedtime. If you experience a hangover effect or excessive grogginess in the morning, then you took too much.
I often recommend higher doses (10-20 mg) for patients with cancer.
If you have difficulty staying asleep, a sustained release form of melatonin can be beneficial.
Talk to your naturopathic doctor regarding dosing and form.
Melatonin and the ovary: physiological and pathophysiological implications
Melatonin improves age-induced fertility decline and attenuates ovarian mitochondrial oxidative stress in mice
Distribution, function and physiological role of melatonin in the lower gut
Melatonin and serotonin effects on gastrointestinal motility
Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of cancer
Melatonin, a Full Service Anti-Cancer Agent: Inhibition of Initiation, Progression and Metastasis
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.