Melatonin and Health
Melatonin is a ubiquitous natural hormone-like compound produced in the pianeal gland (embedded deeply in the brain) and by other tissues, for instance, in the gastrointestinal tissues. This hormone is involved in numerous aspexts of general circadian and physiological regulations. It sets and maintains the internal clocks governing the natural rhythms of body functions. Experimentally, melatonin modifies immunity, the stress respoinse and some aspects of the aging process. Clinically, melatonin has been used in rhythm distrubances, sleep disorders, and cancer. It possesses multifaceted and far-reaching biological effects. Melatonin was released into the general and naturaet in the spring of 1993. In the area of sleep disturbances, malatonin has been shown to effective in treating a condition known as delayed sleep phase syndrome and in corecting the disordered circadian rythms of jet lag and shift work. Researchers have studied the anticancer effects of melatonin, and it appears to work closely with vitamin B-6 and zinc in opposing the immunologic decline which normally accompanies aging.
A recent report described the use of melatonin to treat sleep disorders in hyperactive and neurologically compromised children: small nightly doses corrected the sleep problems, and investigators noticed improved mood and more stable and sociable dispositions tended to accompany the use of mleatonin with these children.
Melatonin also has exciting potential roles in ameliorating women’s health problems, such as osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome, even birth control. As one of the body’s primary anti-stress hormones, it performs what are referred to as tonic and adaptogenic functions.
The Chemistry of Melatonin
Melatonin stabilizes the electrical actvity of the central nervous system and causes reapd synchronization of the elecytrical activity of te brin as well. In contrast, loss of the pineal gland predisposes animals to seizures. It has been proposed that the pineal, activn mostly but not exclusively through melatonin, is a “tranquilizing organ on behalf of homeostatic equilibrium”, and that it acts as a general synchronizing, stabilizing and moderating organ. This suggests that melatonin may have many applications for stabilizing and harmonizing aspects of brain function and chemical production.