Those of us actively taking care of our health know about the hormone melatonin for sleep. But there’s a lot more to it. Researchers Walter Pierpaoli M.D., Ph.D. and William Regelson, M.D., published a book titled “The Melatonin Miracle: Nature’s Age-Reversing, Disease-Fighting, Sex-Enhancing Hormone”. The front cover of the book tells us that the book contents are “based on the authors’ groundbreaking research published by the National Academy of Science”. Halfway down the very first page of chapter one, doctors Pierpaoli and Regelson ask: “Do you have trouble believing that when you are ninety years old you can be working, living and loving in much the same and with the same strength and vigor that you enjoyed at age thirty-five or forty? Well believe it.” The following excerpts from the book represent key points. (Begin excerpts...) “The Melatonin Miracle, Nature’s Age-Reversing, Disease-Fighting, SexEnhancing Hormone” by Walter Pierpaoli, M.D./Ph.D., William Regelson, M.D., and Carol Colman “Thanks to what we have discovered, when you do reach your upper decades, you will not be sitting around bemoaning the loss of the health and vigor that you possessed in, say, your forties. You won’t have any reason to do so, because you will not experience such a loss. We have identified the precise point in the brain that controls how we age— we call it the aging clock. We have determined how it works, and we have discovered the key to turning it back. We will show you: 1 How melatonin, a safe and inexpensive supplement that is already at your neighborhood health food store, can turn back your aging clock, so that you can begin to slow down or even reverse the aging process, starting today. 2 How you can extend your lifespan from the commonly projected seventyfive years to 120 years. 3 How to re-invigorate your sex life (whether you are thirty, sixty, or ninety). 4 How to revive your immune system so that you can live for a century or more.
Our research—which has focused on the pineal gland, a pea-sized structure embedded deep within our brains—is the key to understanding and controlling how we age. The pineal gland manufactures and operates through a hormone called melatonin. Expectant mothers pass melatonin to their developing babies through the placenta (infants don’t manufacture their own supply of melatonin until their third or fourth day of life) and melatonin is present in breast milk. Melatonin levels peak during childhood. During adolescence, melatonin levels drop, triggering a rise in other hormones, which in turn signal to the body that it’s time to enter puberty. As we age, our melatonin levels continue to decrease, with the steepest decline from about age fifty on. By age sixty, our pineal glands are producing half the melatonin we did when we were twenty. Not so coincidentally, as melatonin levels drop, we begin to exhibit serious signs of aging. But our studies have shown us that it is possible to stop the aging process dead in its tracks. We have discovered how to “fix” or reset the aging clock so that we can remain vigorous and strong throughout our entire lives, and certainly well into our ninth and tenth decades. We also believe that we can fill our biological potential of living to be 120 years old, and perhaps even longer than that. In order to fix the aging clock, you need to know why the clock breaks. When the pineal detects that we are past our reproductive time, it begins to break or slow, signaling our bodies that it is time to age. We have identified a way to “trick” the pineal gland into “thinking” we are still young and vigorous…. Melatonin is the key to “resetting” the clock. In animal studies we have shown that melatonin supplements given at the right time, can stop and reverse the aging process…. The mice who received melatonin in their drinking water were compared with mice who did not. Six months later, the mice who did not receive melatonin continued to show signs of aging—patchy brown spots, became more shriveled, lost neuro-muscular coordination, thyroid and immune responsiveness, slowed and eventually died of cancer, which is the typical pattern of aging for these mice. To our astonishment, the melatonin-treated mice seemed to “grow young” practically overnight. Their fur grew thick and lustrous, their bodies grew slim and supple, and their youthful motor activity returned…their immunity against disease had vastly improved. Their energy levels increased, and much to our amazement, their sexual vigor was restored. What’s even more exciting is that the “melatonin mice” lived on the average 30 percent longer than the untreated mice, which in human terms is a gain of twenty to twenty-five years. Even more astounding is that the “melatonin mice” did not succumb to the deadly cancer that invariably affects their breed. We have performed other studies that even more dramatically identify the pineal gland as the body’s aging clock, and melatonin as its master. In later research, we transplanted pineal glands from young animals to old animals…the old animals with the young pineal glands began to rejuvenate…. They looked and acted like young animals. We then transplanted pineal glands from old animals into young animals. The young animals with the old pineals began to age rapidly—they looked and acted like old animals, and they died well before their time. Based on thirty years of research… we are convinced that melatonin is the key to health and longevity. We take it ourselves, and so do the people in our laboratory. Dr. Pierpaoli has given melatonin to Emmy, his former mother-in-law, when she was seventy-four years of age, to help “stave off” the early stages of “Parkinson’s disease”, a common neurological disease among the elderly that can cause tremors and make it difficult to hold a teacup. Now, ten years later, she is sharp, active, and free of Parkinson’s symptoms. We should also add that her skin is as smooth and practically wrinkle-free as it was a decade ago. Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans have shown that melatonin can inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells. Oncologists (cancer specialists) in Milan (Italy) have been using melatonin to treat cancer patients in conjunction with routine chemotherapy. They have reported that melatonin-treated patients showed tumor regression and lived longer with fewer “side effects” than those who did not receive melatonin. If there is something we can do today (as this book was being written) to reverse the aging process, and to push our scientific understanding of aging, we want to do it right now. We are not willing to wait the decades it will take before melatonin gets the “official nod”, and we don’t think that it is fair to ask the public to wait either. Because melatonin occurs naturally (like vitamin C), it can’t be patented. Therefore, drug companies have little incentive to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars “required” to study melatonin. We are writing this book to change your expectations about how we can and should age. If we don’t challenge the belief that aging is an inevitable downward spiral, we will be cheating ourselves out of decades of life as we cherish it in a strong, healthy, youthful body. It is possible to live those extra decades with the same levels of health and vigor that we associate with our youth and middle age. I (book author) began to comb scientific journals for articles on the pineal gland. Scientists had earlier established that this little gland—located deep within the brain—controls body rhythms, including sleep/wake cycles in humans and animals. The pineal gland exerts this control through the production of a hormone called melatonin. One study showed that melatonin levels drop significantly as animals aged. Another study reported that certain blind people who can absolutely not see light—lived significantly longer than blind people who can see some light. Light is very important for regulation of body cycles as well as pineal gland function. The pineal gland detects the presence of light and reacts by producing more or less melatonin. We did an experiment about the effect of constant light on the growth and development of mice. For the first few generations, the mice grew normally, mated, had litters, and lived typical mouse lifespans. However, by the fourth generation , the difference was obvious. The mice no longer looked like healthy mice. Muscles were shrunken, they were more wrinkled, bald patches appeared, their thymus glands developed fatty tissue, their immune response was poor. They looked like little, old, tired mice who aged and died young. By keeping the mice under permanent “24/7” light, and preventing the normal day/night and sleep/wake cycle, the mice aged much more rapidly. In the process of keeping us well, the immune system makes it possible for reproduction (in humans, having babies) to occur. By this time in my research, science had shown that the pineal gland was the “regulator of all human body regulators”. The pineal gland also controls the onset of puberty in humans. The pineal gland, by its release of the hormone melatonin, affects the function of our immune systems. Could it be that the pineal is the “aging clock”? I began the first of a series of experiments in mice, with healthy male mice aged the “equivalent” age of sixty-five human years. One group of mice was given melatonin in its drinking water, the second given only “tap water” to drink. Everything else was exactly the same for both groups. In five months the “tap water only” mice began to have signs and symptoms of old age. The “tap water and melatonin” group looked and behaved like their own grand-children. More importantly, the “tap water and melatonin” group lived an astonishing six months longer; the human equivalent would be an extra twenty-five years. Most of the “tap water only” mice died of cancer; the “tap water and melatonin group remained disease and cancer free for their entire lives. This proved that disease is not an inevitable part of aging; it is possible to live longer lives in strong healthy bodies. In an experiment with male and female mice, we discovered something new. Both genders of mice displayed the sexual behavior of much younger mice. This is the equivalent of one-hundred-year-old men and women showing the sexual interest and stamina of people a third their age! “…in addition to being able to extend life, we were able to extend a life in a way that made it worth living.”
ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS (EMF) AND MELATONIN
As the earth orbits around the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth, the earth’s electromagnetic fields vary. The pineal gland of many animals and also humans is thought to be sensitive to magnetic fields. Research has shown that the human pineal gland may react to electromagnetic fields that originate elsewhere, such as clocks and hair dryers. Several research studies have shown that exposure to electromagnetic fields can interfere with the evening production of melatonin. Some (but not all) researchers believe that exposure to electromagnetic fields may be a cause of many different types of cancers. The human pineal gland is very tiny. It is larger in children than adults, and shrinks as we all get older. Women have slightly larger pineal glands than men. This should not be a surprise, considering the fact that women’s lives are so closely regulated by cycles—such as the twenty-eight-day menstrual cycle. Women typically live longer than men, this might also (but not yet “for certain”) be related to women’s larger pineal glands. In the past, many scientists considered the pineal gland to be of minor importance. When other scientists removed the pineal gland from animals, nothing of visible or otherwise significance occurred. At that time, many scientists theorized that the pineal was mostly an organ that no longer had any function. We now know this opinion was wrong. One reason that removing the pineal gland may have appeared to have no immediate effect is because the glands making up the “endocrine system” (the pineal gland is one of those) are closely linked. If one gland of this system is removed, very often the others may “make up” for that loss. Over a hundred years ago researchers realized that the pineal gland has a significant role in sexual development. In 1889 (yes, that’s over a hundred years ago) a physician described a four-year-old boy who was at that age beginning sexual development. It was found that this boy had a pineal tumor. Some researchers suspected that the pineal gland usually secreted a substance that delayed puberty and sexual function. In 1958, two researchers (A.B. Lerner and J.D. Case) isolated this above-mentioned substance and named it “melatonin”, after the Greek word “yelas” in English “black”, and “tosos” meaning labor. They chose this name because after isolating this substance, they applied it to the skin of frogs in their laboratory. This substance interacted with pigment cells in the skin and lightened or darkened the frog’s skin. Some animals, including frogs, are able to change their skin color almost instantly to hide themselves from predators; the pineal gland controls this possibly life-saving function. In 1963, (took a while, didn’t it?) melatonin was recognized as a hormone, after it was shown to affect sexual function when injected into rats. Later, researchers found that melatonin production was inhibited by exposure to light, and quantities of melatonin followed a daily cycle, rising at night, and falling during the day. They reported that blood levels of melatonin at night are ten times what they are during daytime. When researchers gave melatonin to humans, they reported it made those people sleepy. They reported that melatonin must have an important role in the sleep/ wake cycle. Scientists also reported that melatonin levels are higher in children than adults, and that blood levels of melatonin “fall off” dramatically in “old age”. Other scientists discovered and reported that cancer patients and others who are chronically ill typically had low melatonin levels.
MELATONIN: THE SEX CONNECTION
In humans and animals, melatonin has a major role in sexuality and reproduction. Even though humans—unlike many animals—do not have a breeding season, there is evidence that our ancestors did. A comprehensive study was reported in the “Journal of Reproductive Rhythms”. In this comprehensive study, researchers reviewed millions of birth records (must have taken a very long time and considerable effort) in Northern Hemisphere countries. They found notable annual peaks in births—one in late December and early January, and the other in midsummer. But “gone are the days” when humans lived ‘in sync” with their environment. We no longer live by Nature’s rules. Artificial light, “central heating” and “air conditioning”…. Some scientists believe that the rise of infertility in Western nations could be that we very frequently live in artificial—not natural—environments.
THE REGULATOR OF THE REGULATORS
The pineal gland is regarded as the regulator of the endocrine system, which in turn produces the hormones that control so many body functions. Through its hold over the endocrine system, the pineal controls the activities of virtually every cell in the body, affecting such diverse functions as reproduction, body temperature, kidney function, immunity, sleep and growth and development. The pineal uses melatonin to maintain the body’s balance or equilibrium. Unlike estrogen, which has direct effect on specific organs such as the ovaries, or testosterone, which has a direct effect on the testes, melatonin operates indirectly to affect all organs. Its job is to regulate the levels of other hormones, to maintain the balance of the body. It is our belief that the pineal’s primary role is to control the production and use of energy throughout the body. Through the release of melatonin and other compounds, the pineal directs energy production so it goes where it is needed at precisely the right time. In sum, melatonin directs the cells in the body to do whatever it takes to keep the body running like the highly efficient machine it is. In a sense, growing old is the loss of the ability to adjust to one’s environment, and that is because the “regulator of the regulator”, the pineal gland, is breaking down.
MELATONIN: GROWING YOUNGER
Ours is the first generation that has the capacity, by resetting our “aging clock”, to actually prolong youthful health and vitality into our eighties, nineties, and possibly even our hundreds. MELATONIN AN ANTI-CANCER AGENT? One study reported that blind women, who typically have higher levels of melatonin than normal, have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Another study at the University of Arizona, tested the effect of melatonin on a tissue culture of an estrogen-sensitive human breast cell tumor. They found that melatonin inhibited the growth of these cells by up to 78%. Other studies have confirmed that melatonin can inhibit the growth of other cancer cells as well. Dr. Paoli Lissoni, one of the most creative researchers in the field of cancer, has conducted some particularly promising studies involving melatonin. Lissoni’s group has used melatonin alone as a cancer treatment, and in combination with and in combination with other forms of chemotherapy. In both cases, the results have been very encouraging. One study, gave only melatonin to patients with a variety of cancers that had already spread from other areas of the body to form inoperable brain tumors. Those receiving melatonin became significantly better than those receiving just supportive care… those patients on melatonin lived longer and showed slower tumor progression than the untreated patients. One of Dr. Lissoni’s most interesting studies established a link between melatonin levels. Out of sixteen patients who had shown a rise in melatonin levels, tumors shrank in twelve, and did not progress in the rest. Of the twenty-six patients who had a continuous fall in melatonin, only two showed an improvement. Melatonin levels may be a marker that can help doctors predict the prognosis of their cancer patients.
MELATONIN AND SEX
Melatonin can help us prevent the decline in sexual energy that we now too readily accept as a natural consequence of aging. Melatonin promises not only to regain, but to restore an interest in sex. Our research also shows it actually helps to rejuvenate the sex organs. Our laboratory experiments confirm, melatonin prevents the atrophy of sexual organs that typically occurs as we age…. We believe there is a direct connection between the youthful state of the sex organs and the level of sexual activity. These improvements are the result of melatonin supplementation. We believe that taking melatonin supplements at bedtime later in life, starting at the time when natural levels begin to drop, may restore these other sexually-related hormones to more youthful levels and thus enable us to maintain our more youthful level of sexuality.” ) According to Doctors Pierpaoli and Regelson, melatonin helps to strengthen human hearts.
“Melatonin: For A Stronger Heart” … “The Promise of Melatonin” This includes normalizing blood cholesterol levels, lowering high blood pressure, protecting the body from stress-induced illness, and helping to prevent heart attack and stroke.
With melatonin supplementation is it possible to postpone the aging process, to keep our bodies youthful and strong, to remain sexy and vital throughout our entire lives. And also: “If melatonin supplements are taken at the time of life when melatonin levels naturally decline, the effects of aging can be reversed.”
One melatonin researcher, Jeff T Bowles, reviewed all of the studies done on melatonin going back a hundred years. Since he knew there is no toxic dose of melatonin, he took 500mg per night for a year and experienced many remarkable health improvements.
I’m not suggesting that anyone do something like that. One should be able to derive substantial benefit from taking 10mg or less per night. Melatonin is helpful for sleep in a significant minority and is dose dependent. So if 3mg doesn’t work, maybe 10mg will work. One problem a few people have is that melatonin can cause vivid dreams or even nightmares. So that is a limiting factor for a small fraction of people.
Jeff T Bowles did extensive research on high dose melatonin as well as high dose vitamin D. He wrote very informative books on these subjects that can be found on Amazon. Since reading his books I have been mega dosing both vitamin D and melatonin. If you don’t know what you are doing, high enough vitamin D dosing can cause health problems. So don’t go there without doing your homework.
Most of the above information was adapted from Dr.Jonnathan Wright’s newsletter that I have subscribed to for more than 20 years. It has been a fantastic resource for me and my practice of alternative medicine for most of my career. His newsletter is called Green Medicine, 1-800-528-0559.
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