Melatonin: The Critical Hormone & How to Optimise It

Woman sunbathing, a very effective way of increasing melatonin

Melatonin is an essential hormone that provides a multitude of benefits throughout the human body.

Mistakenly it has been dubbed the hormone of sleep, but more accurately it is the "hormone of darkness," since it trains our circadian rhythms to the day and night cycles, a critical cycle to be aligned with for optimal health.

Since the 2017 Nobel Prize was won for "Circadian Medicine," volumes of research are now showing melatonin is important for many things other than sleep and jet lag.

Benefits of Melatonin

Maintains Immunity

Low melatonin = weak immune system which makes you susceptible to cancer. Melatonin is the best anti-cancer hormone because it is vital for optimal immune function.

The Body’s Most Potent Antioxidant

As declared by numerous studies. Melatonin scavenges for free radicals, stimulates genes to turn on other antioxidant systems, has access to any and every cell in the body and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

The process:

  • During sleep, all your brain cells shrink from 40-60%, creating room in the brain for melatonin to flood in and bind to all the oxidative stress and free radicals.
  • It then sweeps this oxidative stress (that ages us) out through cerebrospinal fluid, down into the circulatory system, for the liver and kidneys to process and eliminate out of the body.
  • Melatonin also floods through the lymphatics and detoxifies different organs throughout the night.

Energy Levels and Mitochondrial Health

Mitochondria are the energy generators for every cell. Melatonin makes life easier and more efficient for these energy generators.

  • When melatonin is removed from your brain, you loose DHA in cell membranes.
  • DHA is the only lipid that can turn sunlight into DC electric current and visa versa.
  • The DC electric circulates through your body to provide you with energy.
  • DC current also counters inflammation (DC current is a negative charge and inflammation is a positive charge).
  • Note that stress also reduces DHA. Studiess here.

Maintains Circadian Rhythms and Regulates All Other Hormones

Since all the hormones are connected like a web. Especially reproductive hormones and hormones related to metabolism an appetite.

Better Sleep, Cognitive Health, Brain Health, Weight Loss

Numerous studies show this (3),(4),(5).

Melatonin is a direct antagonist to cortisol. When melatonin is up, cortisol (stress) goes down.

Healthy Bones and Joint Health

Studies showed melatonin helps in the treatment of bone pathologies such as the osteoporosis and the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). It aslo may prevent bone degradation and promote bone formation.

Healthy Microbiome

Our gut bacteria are regulated by our circadian clock and are sensitive to melatonin. Melatonin, which is secreted into the gastrointestinal lumen expresses circadian patterns of swarming and motility. Studies suggest the human circadian system may regulate its microbiome through the entrainment of bacterial clocks.

Blood Sugar, Metabolic Health and Cravings

Studies showed that Melatonin regulates insulin secretion and protects against reactive oxygen species which are a threat to pancreatic β-cells (the cells that do the job of storing and releasing insulin).

β-cells are very susceptible to oxidative stress because they possess only low-antioxidative capacity.

Low melatonin levels will cause high insulin levels and high dopamine levels which causes stress (cortisol) along with an increase in cravings, addictions and metabolic disorders.

Strong cravings for carbohydrates in the summer is a natural circadian response to prepare for the famine or lack of food during the darkness of winter. (1)

When we light our homes with artifical blue light for an extra 5-6 hours after sunset, we are sending the “endless summer” message to our cellular biological clocks that it is time to crave carbs in preparation for the famine of winter. This carb craving can last for 365 days a year.(2)

More Than Meets the Eye: Skin Receptors for Melatonin

It is not just your eyes that initiate melatonin production, there are receptors in your skin.

Melatonin is mostly produced after the retinal ganglion cells in our eyes perceive light. Interestingly however, there are also photo-pigments on the skin all over the body can detect different types of light and sync peripheral rhythms with the light and dark cycle.

Neuroxin is a UVA receptor present in our skin and eye that gets stimulated by light. This receptor was only found in 2009.

This is why even blind people can still have a diurnal rhythm in sync with the light/dark cycle.

Artifical Blue Light Disrupting Melatonin

Artificial blue light destroys melatonin.

Not only does it lower melatonin, but when we are watching our computers or TV at night, or checking our emails at or before sunrise, our diurnal clock becomes confused and all the hormones become disturbed (think of our hormonal system like a web, all connected).

As we learnt before, it is not only our eyes!

The skin receptors also get stimulated by artificial blue light. Surface photo-chemistry influences the tissues underneath. These spectrums can penetrate all the way to the fat tissue layer and cause free radicals, energy problems, and more.

Your thyroid only sits about half a cm under you skin. So the blue light is penetrating to the thyroid. People with Hashimotos beware. Perhaps the most important remedy for low thyroid is nasya + watch the sunrise + get sunshine on your neck and protect your neck from fake blue light.

Ways to Optimise Melatonin

Here are some methods you can implement to naturally increase melatonin:

Get Sunshine

Watch the sunrise and the sunset without sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses (as these alter a holistic light spectrum by blocking specific frequencies).

Sunbathe with as much bare skin as possible. Soak up the sun in moderation. Slowly build your skin tolerance to the sun.

Proper Sleep

Melatonin is the hormone of darkness. It will build while you are asleep. Be in bed before 10 pm, and wake up with the sun.

The latest Nobel Prize proved ancient wisdom by showing maximum melatonin production is between 10pm - 2am, which Ayurveda has been saying for thousands of years is the "Pitta time," where your body metabolises food, nutrients and hormones.

The catch is you need to be asleep for the production!

No Artificial Light at Night

Artificial light at night, even if it is ambient blocks the production of melatonin needed to get to sleep and stay asleep. Use candles or revolutionize back to incandescent light bulbs for night time.

Begin reducing blue and artificial light exposure starting at sunset, or 2-3 hours before bed. Make sure there are no lights on at night while you sleep. If necessary, use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block ambient light. Ensure you still get up at sunrise.

Go camping for a couple or few days without artifical light of electronic devices. That will do wonders.

Reduce LED Lights and Screens at Night

Don't look at your phone first thing when you wake up. Do your morning routine before touching that thing.

Reduce TV and computers at night time and 2 hours before bed. We are not biologically wired at all to be exposed to such high light temperatures while the sun is not up.

Use filters on your computer, make your phone screen "most warm" 24/7 and use blue light blocking glasses.

Nasya (Nasal Drops)

Nasya is the practice of sniffing herbal oil up your nose to your pineal gland to detox the pineal gland and activate it's functions of jobs like initiating melatonin secretion.

Learn more about Nasya here.

Melatonin Rich Foods

  • Goji berries (very high source).
  • Cherries, espeically tart cherries. Tart cherry juice has been studied to help sleep.
  • Walnuts and almonds.
  • Flaxseeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Fenugreek and mustard seeds
  • Raspberries
  • Bed Time Milk Elixir - Whether its milk from mother, cow or goat, studies show it boost melatonin.

(3)

Reduce Coffee - Logic will tell you that caffeine as a stimulant will inhibit melatonin production—and it does.  Studies suggest that at night the caffeine will block melatonin production. This supersedes the constituents in coffee that actually help boost melatonin levels.

Always eat in season since all food absorbs light and you will consume the appropriate dose of electrons and meltatonin.

Supplements

I recommend you only consider supplementation after you have tried all the natural interventions above.

Those who work night shifts or very long hours, people who fly frequently and people who still struggle with sleep should consider this.

Assess whether you need a time-release or immeditate melatonin. Get quality supplements here.

Although you can get melatonin from foods and man-made pills, sunlight is the most dominant synchroniser of melatonin production. Get more sun.

References

  1. T.S Wiley. Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival. Atria Books, New York. 2000
  2. https://nutritionfacts.org/2014/04/03/foods-with-natural-melatonin/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352910/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3001215/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742260/https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12640-012-9337-4

Credits:

  1. Dr. John Douillard, Lifespa.com
  2. 1cm^3 contains by Alexander Wunsch
  3. Melatonin Graph: Sandhills Neurologists
  4. Old-Clock photo - Fabrizio Verrecchia
  5. City Lights - Mike Wilson
  6. City Lights Disney - Denys Nevozhai
How do you naturally increase melatonin? Comment 👇

Turmeric: Highly Medicinal Spice & Essential Uses

Turmeric Roots

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is the most thoroughly researched plant on this planet!

And I don’t blame the scientists for the 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.

Not another article listing countless benefits of turmeric, "I don't know where to start or what to use it for,"

Some of you may be thinking.

The bright orange rhizome deserves all these articles and documentation, but it can get a bit overwhelming.

In this article I will sum up the essentials and how to use Turmeric....

The average person in India eats about 2 to 2.5 grams of turmeric a day – almost every day of their lives. Interestingly, India has among the highest rates of prostate, breast, colon and lung health in the world. Some researchers credit turmeric for this.

The best part? Chances are, this spice may already be in your cabinet.

Turmeric has a vast catalogue of health benefits, but here is an

Essential Summary of the Benefits of Turmeric:

• Anti Inflammatory - best anti-inflammatory along with ginger.
• Mood Regulating - In one study, curcumin (the active ingredient that is so heavily researched), was shown to boost the brain chemical norepinephrine, which supports healthy mood, attentiveness, sleep, dreaming and higher learning.
• Curcumin also boosted the levels of dopamine – the “motivation” hormone that supports pleasure, emotion, satisfaction and locomotion – and serotonin, which plays a key role in mood, memory, learning, appetite, sexual behaviour, sleep, and many other functions.
• Protects Gut - Turmeric creates coating around gut area for protection. This prevents toxins from absorbing and will assist the bile in detoxifying toxins like heavy metals, parasites, pesticides, candida, fungi and more. This decongests the lymphatic system.
• Reproductive Nourishment: Breast milk purifier, sperm builder and nourishes reproductive organs.
 Joint Support - It can reduce stiffness and swelling and strengthens joints in cases of joint pain. People with arthritis should be eating plenty turmeric daily.
• Healthy blood - blood purifier, enhances blood flow and can thin blood. Supports liver function.

Boost Absorption: Simply Add a Little Black Pepper:

Researchers found that turmeric taken with black pepper – both common ingredients in curry – increased the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000%! with no adverse effects!

How to Use Turmeric as Medicine:

  • Turmeric Powder is indicated over fresh turmeric because it is more purified and easier to digest. Fresh turmeric can be used but less than 3x a week in teas, stir fries etc. You may use fresh turmeric more if it is purified with limestone.
  • Add at the end of cooking - Curries, stir fires, meat roasts, eggs, dahls, salads, really any savoury meal calls for turmeric. Add the powder towards the end of cooking to savour all the nutrients and healing properties. A general rule is to add powdered spices at the end of cooking (except hing).
  • Anti-Viral Paste - Mix up this paste if a cough, cold/flu or virus hits you or when you feel one coming on. Step in early! Recipe here.
  • Meat - As meat is vulnerable to acquiring infections and cancerous bacteria, turmeric with its anti-cancer properties is vital to add to the cooking of meat.
  • Boosts Oil Pulling - Add a pinch turmeric powder to 1tsp of sesame oil and swish in mouth for a stronger anti-bacterial action and to heal bleeding gums.
  • Golden Milk - Mix turmeric with hot milk + other necessary spices. This promotes sleep, reduces stress, purifies breast milk amongst many more benefits. Recipe here.

External Uses:

Turmeric is popular among many beauty and skin products. Here are some home remedies and uses. Just be careful as it can stain anything it touches.

  • Disinfectant - Mix turmeric with a little ghee, butter or honey (enough to make a paste) and you have a paste to apply on cuts and wounds. Turmeric doesn't only disinfect the wound (it looks just like Betadine), but also heals it. This is a great mixture to have on hand in the first aid kit.
  • Anti-itch - Eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, any skin condition or where itching is present apply turmeric + butter or yoghurt paste to cool down the skin and relieve the itching. This also heals the skin condition.
  • Face Mask - Purifying face mask to sterilise and draw out or pacify pimples, blackheads and oily secretions. A general mask to nourish and rejuvenate the skin.
    Recipe: mix 2 Tbsp chana flour (chickpea) +1 tsp turmeric powder + 3 tsps milk. Apply on face and lie down until mask dries, then wash off. Can also use as skin exfoliator before shower.
  • Skin-Cancer - Helps protects from and help heal skin cancers.

Properties:

Rasa (taste): Pungent, bitter
Virya (action): Heating
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Pungent
Doshas: Balances vata, pitta and kapha

Summary:

Simply, turmeric should be used daily in your cooking (with a pinch of black pepper). Further, get to know its potent medicinal components more by utilising the powerful powder for home remedy medical applications.