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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7 Reasons to Decrease Coffee Consumption

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There is honestly nothing more tempting then that beautiful aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Or, after finishing a delicious dinner sipping on the perfect little cappuccino. Coffee makes us feel happy, warm and energized, and some people swear that it has health benefits. However, coffee is not for everyone nor should it be consumed in excess. Additionally, many people add lots of dairy products and sugar to their daily cup of coffee. This adds calories and is difficult for the digestion. I have seen many patients that are drinking way too much caffeine and experience enormous health benefits once they cut out or slow down on the java.

Please read on for 7 reasons why I believe coffee should be enjoyed in moderation (or not at all for some)

  1. Coffee increases catecholamines, hormones released in response to STRESS.  The stress response increases cortisol and insulin.  This response can increase inflammation thereby making you feel tired.
  2. Coffee consumption has been associated with increased PMS!! Many woman also crave coffee close to their menses, but try and hold off- it may improve cramps, breast tenderness and irritability.
  3. It may impact your CHOLESTEROL levels. Some research has linked drinking unfiltered coffee to an increase in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Unfiltered coffee has high amount of diterpenes. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels. All things you do not want to be high in your body!
  4. Coffee is not great for DIGESTION. The acidity of coffee is associated with indigestion, heart burn, GERD and changes in beneficial gut flora.
  5. Due to the impact coffee has on the digestive system, coffee may also inhibit the absorption of key nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and potassium.
  6. Drinking caffeine throughout the day may impact your SLEEP. This sounds pretty basic, but if you are having trouble sleeping at night cut out the caffeine (and switch to green tea) or limit yourself to ONE CUP BEFORE 11am. Do this for at least one month.
  7. Coffee can interfere with normal DRUG METABOLISM. Constituents in coffee can interfere with metabolism and detoxification in the liver making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver.  Additionally coffee can interfere with absorption of certain medications such as thyroid and tricyclic antidepressant medications.

 

Many people have withdrawal from coffee, and this can last for up to a month. Try replacing coffee with green tea, herbal teas or coffee substitutes containing roasted grains (found at whole foods or other health food stores). I find that steeping a cup of Rooibos tea and adding in some almond milk or rice milk can give me some of the satisfaction coffee does. Again, some people tolerate caffeine better than others, however I would recommend making coffee more of a treat than a necessity.

In Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

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!

A Few “Very Naturopathic” Weight Loss Tips

1. Always eat breakfast! Breakfast helps to kick start our metabolism and increase our metabolic rate for the whole day. By including protein in your first meal of the day you will also stay full and satisfied for longer.
2.Cook with coconut oil as much as possible. Our bodies have trouble storing the fat from coconut oil so as soon as we eat it we burn it!! This also encourages fat loss.
3.Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and add lemon and/ or a pinch of cayenne to your water. The lemon increases liver detox and the cayenne can help stimulate weight loss.
4.Do not eat three hours before bedtime. You don’t need the fuel right before bedtime, and eating late at night can also interfere with melatonin production, preventing you from getting the rest you need.
6.Try and get 8 hours of sleep a night. Proper sleep helps decrease cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are associated with weight gain. Additionally, when we have enough sleep we have more energy to exercise and less of a tendency to make poor choices when eating.
7. Try and be active EVERYDAY. Even if it is just a 30 minute power walk, at least you are getting your body moving. However, to encourage weight loss you have to sweat, so when you do go to the gym or for a run make sure to work at a level that you are perspiring at.

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