Why Melatonin in Important and 4 Ways to Naturally Boost this Anti-Aging Hormone

sleeping woman

Melatonin is a natural hormone that is released from a small gland within the brain known as the pineal gland. Melatonin is known to be responsible for the regulation of our internal body clock, referred to as the circadian rhythm and regulates female’s reproductive hormones. However, science is now discovering that this is only one of the many benefits adequate Melatonin levels have in the body.

  • Insomnia: Boosting melatonin levels appears to reduce the time it takes for individuals to fall asleep, increase the number of sleeping hours and boost daytime alertness.
  • Menopause: Increasing melatonin may also benefit woman suffering from disordered sleep during the time of menopause.
  • Breast Health: Melatonin appears to be protective against breast cancer. Several studies suggest that low melatonin levels may be associated with breast cancer. Further, several preliminary studies suggest that melatonin may strengthen the effect of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Prostate Heath: Studies show that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels than men without the disease.

Melatonin levels appear to naturally decline as we age. Read on to find out how you can naturally boost the levels of this important hormone in your body.

 

1. Avoid Exposure to Bright Lights at Night
Nighttime light exposure disrupts melatonin production and interferes with sleep. We recommend dimming the lights, avoiding looking at TV, computer and smart phone screens 1 hour before going to bed. This also applies for if you wake during the middle of the night, use dim light and avoid putting on bright overhead lights.
2. Expose Yourself to Sunlight During Your Waking Hours.
Nighttime night interferes with melatonin production, however inadequate exposure to light in the daytime also disrupts the body’s natural melatonin cycles. Make time to get outside in the sunshine during the day, or sit in a sunny window when you can.

3. Melatonin-Boosting Foods in Your Daily Diet.
By increasing the substrates necessary to produce melatonin through food, you can naturally increase the production of our this important hormone in our bodies. Make sure that you are consuming adequate protein (especially in the morning) and foods with calcium and magnesium. Good choices include seeds and dark leafy green vegetables.
4. Consider Supplementing with Melatonin
The dose of melatonin required will vary from for each individual and it is best to consult your Naturopathic doctor before taking melatonin. Melatonin should always be taken 30 minutes  to one hour before bedtime, preferably on an empty stomach. Melatonin should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or nursing or before driving a vehicle.

If you are interested in having a Naturopathic Doctor come into your place of work for a interactive wellness seminar or for Naturopathic treatment in the comfort of your own office, please check out http://www.infusionhealth.ca or contact info@infusionhealth.ca.

In Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

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How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help Manage Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be caused by a blocked upper airway (called obstructive apnea), by your brain not signaling your lungs to breathe (central apnea), or by a combination of these two problems.

 

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Many physical conditions, such as being overweight, or having large tonsils and adenoids, can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is also linked to medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  Additionally, some individuals may have low thyroid function, causing them to gain weight and feel tired. The typical person with sleep apnea is an overweight, middle-aged man with allergies. However not everyone with apnea is overweight!  Apnea can happen at any age, regardless of weight and is found in women as well. Sometimes drugs, such as alcohol, sleeping pills, or heart medications, can trigger apnea. It can also be inherited.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to more problems such as anxiety, depression, brain fog and more weight gain.

The treatment of sleep apnea often requires breathing devices, dental devices or surgery. However, Naturopathic medicine can be a great adjunct therapy to increase your overall well being.

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND uses a combination of evidence based therapies, including dietary and lifestyle changes, supplements, botanicals and acupuncture to treat the underlying cause of the disease.

Conditions treated include:

Weight loss

Allergies

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)

Insomnia                                                                                            

Diabetes

Hypothyroid

Depression/Anxiety

Stress

Working on proper sleep hygiene (i.e. no watching TV or looking at computers right before bedtime!) can also greatly benefit the ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep.

Take care of yourself! Find a Naturopathic Doctor that can help you have a more restful sleep so you can lead a happier life!

Product Review: Good Nature Organic Teas

I have always been a big tea drinker (mostly herbal) so I have developed quite a taste for good teas. Drinking herbal tea is a great alternative to caffeinated beverages and specific herbs can also have many health benefits.   I have recently been introduced to “Good Nature” teas and I have to say I am very impressed.  The teas are SO FLAVORFUL!  I often am able to get a few cups from the same tea bag- which is not often the case with many pre-packaged herbal teas on the market today.  The teas are USDA organic but the company started in Macedonia and now their products are available across 27 different countries.

I have yet to try all their teas, but two of my favorites are: BE WHOLE (to promote digestion) and BE HAPPY (to promote feelings of happiness:)

BE WHOLE

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BE WHOLE tea contains licorice root, sweet fennel, rosemary and ginger.  All of these are known as “carminitives” in botanical medicine, helping to decrease gas in the gastrointestinal tract and to increase digestion.  This tea is great to sip after a meal. The licorice root is the primary taste in this tea and I love it! In fact, I am sipping some as I write this post now 🙂

BE HAPPY

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BE HAPPY tea contains St. Johns Wort, organic rose hips, red-sorrel flower, chamomile, lemon balm and cloves.  It tastes very flavorful and the herbs included in the tea are known to promote a positive and uplifting mood! I love drinking this tea in the morning instead of coffee- Its a feel good beverage!  Please caution to those currently on an anti-depressant medication – St Johns Wort can interact with these medications even at low doses.  Also for those on birth control pills, this herb may decrease the efficacy of oral contraceptives.  Talk to your doctor before supplementing with any product containing this herb if you are on the medications listed above.

BE RESTED (to promote sleep) and BE ENERGIZED (a healthy alternative to coffee) amongst many other various teas from Good Nature.  To learn more about their teas and their company please visit: http://www.goodnaturetea.com/

More Sleep Aids: Valerian Root

Melatonin is not the only supplement that can be helpful putting you to sleep.  Valerian root has been shown to work better than benzodiazepines (typical sleep aids) for insomnia (Eur J Med Res 2002; 25; 7: 480-6). And another study found that only a single dose can be effective in helping to improve sleep (Holist Nurs Pract. 2009 Jul-Aug;23(4):253-6.). To date, researchers have conducted studies with valerian on 1093 patients, with the outcome of a statistically significant benefit (Am J Med. 2006 Dec;119(12):1005-12.).

The active “ingredient” in valerian root is valerenic acid, which, like benzodiazepines, works on the GABA-nergic system in your brain. GABA is one of the main neurotransmitters in your nervous system and regulates neuronal excitement.

Valerian should not be taken if one is on benzodiazepines, barbiturates, epileptic drugs.

If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your health care provider about supplementing with Valerian root.

Figure 22-2 Sleep architecture: changes over the life cycle. REM, Rapid eye movement sleep; SWS, slow wave sleep; WASO, wake after sleep onset.
(From Ohayon MM, Carskadon MA, Guilleminault C, Vitiello MV: Meta-analysis of quantitative sleep parameters from childhood to old age in healthy individuals: developing normative sleep values across the human lifespan, Sleep 27:1255-1273, 2004.)

Melatonin

MELATONIN is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain.  During sleep the amount of melatonin increases, and during the day the amount of melatonin falls.  This is because melatonin is influenced by the light/dark cycle and regulates our biological clock(1). Research has shown an inverse relationship between breast cancer size and nighttime levels of melatonin (Front Horn Res 1997; 23:132-36).  And another study found that women who worked 3 or more night shifts for 3 years or less were 40% more likely to have breast cancer than women who did not work night shifts (Health facts, Nov 2001, 26 (11):3-4).  Around the mid- forties the reduction in pineal gland becomes noticeable, and sleep patterns change.  Supplementing with melatonin can increase your night sleep time, help treat jet-lag, and may help reverse the signs of aging (2).  To naturally increase your melatonin you can:
1.Eat foods high in tryptophan
2.Supplement with vitamins B3 and B6
3.Sleep in a dark room
4.Expose yourself to 20 minutes of natural sunlight in the morning
5.Do not turn on bright lights when waking at night- this stops the melatonin production.  Instead, use a night light in the bathroom/ hallway.

(1)Kaur, Sat Dharam, ND 2010
(2)Pettle, A., MD 2003