When we talk about the benefits of melatonin, it’s usually related to sleep and the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. However, recently its diverse uses in other areas have been investigated.
Do you know what the benefits of melatonin are? In this article, we’ll explain to them!
Health Benefits of Melatonin
The levels of the substance in our bodies vary considerably with age. Before the age of three months, babies tend to secrete very low levels. The secretion increases after that and becomes circadian along with general child development.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, the neuroendocrine levels, and the body’s temperature cycles. It also provides other benefits.
Discover what they are!
1. It’s anticonvulsant
An epileptic attack and a postictal period (the altered state of consciousness that follows it), in addition to their dramatic characteristics, can also consume a massive amount of energy. It’s believed that this then leads to oxidative stress and a larger generation of free radicals, which is directly related to cellular aging and metabolic deterioration.
Studies carried out by Psychological Research conclude that administrating melatonin before a tonic-clonic seizure reduces the levels of hydroxyl radicals generated after. It’s a difficult procedure in clinical practice, but specialists continue to study it.
2. Antihypertension properties
Melatonin is involved in the regulation of arterial pressure and autonomous cardiovascular function. In patients with essential hypertension, repeated intake of melatonin before bed significantly reduces blood pressure at night.
On one hand, melatonin shows antioxidant properties and maintains adequate nitrogen oxide concentrations. It’s a strong vasodilator. On the other hand, it improves the endothelium function and reduces the activity of the adrenergic system.
3. Prevents cancer
In a revision of studies from 2017, the oncologic role of melatonin was demonstrated in various cancers such as breast, ovarian, prostate, oral, gastric, and colonic. This characteristic, however, isn’t curative, but it does contribute to slowing down the evolutionary process for certain tumors, thus slowing down the reproduction of abnormal cells.
Melatonin also shows potential when being used as an adjuvant in chemotherapy for breast cancer. It seems to strengthen the therapeutic effects and reduce the side effects of pharmaceuticals and radiation.
4. Antiaging properties
External applications of melatonin can also be beneficial since it penetrates the corneum layer of the skin and forms a deposit there due to its distinctive makeup. In this sense, it can sit within the skin’s structure to release its benefits over a period of time.
As such, the continued production of melatonin whilst sitting within the layers of the skin – in addition to its external application – is one of the strongest antioxidizing defenses against aging of the skin. This aging is mainly induced by UV rays.
5. Regulation of the immune system
Melatonin also regulates anti-inflammatory and immune processes, acting as an activator and inhibitor for these responses. Also, its potent antioxidant capacity allows it to eliminate oxidative stress in inflamed tissue.
With its endocrine and paracrine effects, it’s able to do the following:
- Modulate proinflammatory enzymes
- Control the production of inflammatory mediators like cytokines and leukotrienes
- Regulate the useful life of leukotrienes
6. Acts as a neuroprotector
Poor melatonin production is responsible for the changes during the first few stages of Alzheimer’s. To combat these effects, studies in the Journal of Pineal Research indicate that the reactivation of the circadian cycle through phototherapy with the substance in addition to supplements of it has shown positive and promising results.
There’s also evidence to support that a key neuroprotectant effect means that it can help prevent neurodegenerative illnesses characterized by age, such as Alzheimer’s.
7. Antioxidant effects
Melatonin is a great neutralizing agent for the free radicals found in the body. Free radicals are oxidized substances.
Studies carried out by Life Sciences conclude that melatonin is twice as active as vitamin E, which used to be considered to be the most effective antioxidizing lipophilic substance.
8. Helps to promote gastrointestinal motility
Melatonin prevents ulcerations in the gastrointestinal mucosa because of the following:
- Its antioxidizing capacity
- The ability to reduce the secretion of hydrochloric acid
- Stimulates the immune system
- The capacity to support the regeneration of epithelial tissue in the stomach
- Improves microcirculation
Due to its unique properties, melatonin can be considered for the prevention or treatment of ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and infant colic.
9. The reproductive cycle and the benefits of melatonin
Melatonin has physiological effects on the reproductive system and sexual maturation. It does this through the regulation of the expression of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in a cyclical pattern during a 24-hour period.
The rhythmic release of GnHR controls the secretion of the luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
10. Autism Spectrum Disorder
Finally, specialists have observed abnormalities in the serotonergic system and alterations to the sleep-wake cycle observed in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which suggests an atypical melatonin release.
Sleep disorders – like increased latency, reduced total sleep, nocturnal awakenings, and insomnia – are seen in 50 – 80% of people with autism. Melatonin could help improve the overall quality of life for those affected and their families and caretakers.
The body releases the most melatonin at night. The strength of the light stimulus that we absorb during the day and our body clocks determine the total value of the substance we release. Therefore, it’s always important to only take melatonin at night when you know you will no longer be exposed to light. Otherwise, it’s not as effective.
Before adding melatonin to your diet, though, it’s always best to visit a medical professional if you have any pre-existing condition. They will be able to determine whether or not it’s suitable for you depending on your circumstances.
The benefits we’ve discussed in this article are, mainly, still experimental. As such, a doctor should review each clinical case to accurately determine whether taking melatonin is a healthy option.