You are probably familiar with melatonin for its role in helping you sleep. Indeed, melatonin does play a significant role in regulating sleep patterns, but studies have brought to light many other roles melatonin plays – and the latest information is really blowing minds in the scientific community!
Melatonin is described as the “Swiss army knife” of hormones for its broad ranging effects in the body. One of its most profound benefits, it turns out, is its role as a superstar antioxidant.
This makes melatonin one of our BFFs when it comes to EMFs!
A multitude of studies have now proven melatonin’s efficacy in treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes, infertility, eye disorders, migraines and fibromyalgia, as well as depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
In this article, I will give you an overview of what we know to date about why melatonin is so important for your health, as well as a few recommendations on how to increase your body’s own natural melatonin production.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty on melatonin, let’s talk first about the mysterious organ most often associated with melatonin - the pineal gland.
The Magic & Mystery of the Pineal Gland
Keep the pineal gland operating and you will never grow old, you will always be young. - Edgar Cayce
The pineal gland gets its name from its pinecone shape. It sits right the middle of your brain, between the right and left hemispheres.
Traditionally we thought melatonin was only produced by the pineal gland. Indeed, the pineal produces a fair amount of melatonin but it is not the ONLY producer – we will talk more about that in a minute.
The pineal gland acts as a conductor over the whole endocrine system, helping control hormone signals to all organs. It plays a dual role – acting as a bridge between the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems. This makes the gland wholly unique, involved in everything from circadian rhythms to body temperature, water balance, reproductive function and fertility, blood pressure, immune health, mental health, aging and more.
The pineal gland is even responsible for hormone release from the pituitary gland, which in turn signals the rest of the endocrine system.
Because it detects light and contains rod-like cells very similar to those in the eye, the pineal gland is commonly called the “third eye.” (Human Origin Project)
Even more mysteriously, scientists have discovered that the pineal gland produces a neurotransmitter called DMT which has psychedelic effects. DMT is found in substantial amounts in the gland as well as in our cerebrospinal fluid, but its role in the body is not yet understood.
René Descartes described the pineal gland as a unique meeting point between body and soul.
Some have proposed that the pineal gland plays an integral role in altered states of consciousness, conscious dreaming, psychic events, and experiences such as even “near death experiences.”
An artist by the name of Shawn Thornton created some very interesting paintings before learning he had a tumor on his pineal gland. One of his paintings is featured the top of this article.
Melatonin is a Powerful Antioxidant
Melatonin is a hormone with potent antioxidant properties. This is quite important for your brain because brain cells have extraordinarily high energy/metabolic needs. The byproduct of this energy production is free radicals.
What do you need to clean up free radicals? Antioxidants!
The brain has a high fat content so is especially vulnerable to one type of free radical damage called lipid peroxidation. Since brain cells have little to no ability to rejuvenate, protecting them is priority one.
This is the reason your body has a built-in “blood-brain barrier,” to limit what can get into your brain. This barrier is great for keeping invaders out, but NOT so good for delivering protective molecules such as antioxidants.
Melatonin is an antioxidant that can break through this barrier and reach the brain. Because melatonin is "lipophilic" (aka fat loving), it can penetrate cell membranes to provide direct antioxidant protection to the delicate structures within brain cells.
If you think about it, it makes sense that the body placed the pineal gland right there inside the brain, which not only helps with sleep but serves as a reservoir of antioxidants. Sleep is your brain’s most critical time for repair, rejuvenation, and detoxification.
EMFs Block Melatonin Production
One of the primary ways radiation wreaks havoc in the body is by generating free radicals – especially hydroxy radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative damage to fragile cellular structures such as DNA, lipids, and mitochondria, resulting in impaired immune responses and chronic inflammation throughout the body.
Antioxidants like melatonin come to the rescue by helping your body scavenge free radicals.
Two meta-analyses indicate that melatonin levels have a significant impact on oxidative stress – the more melatonin one has, the less oxidative damage they experience. (Morvaridzadeh et al., 2020).
Making matters worse, in addition to creating free radicals, EMFs have been shown to impede the body’s natural melatonin production. Studies are inconclusive about exactly how this occurs but one line of thought is that EMFs get misinterpreted as light.
One study at the University of Melbourne suggests that EMFs impede melatonin production by fooling the pineal gland into believing the EMF radiation is a source of light.
If the body thinks it is still light outside, or in the room, it will limit or shut down melatonin production.
Two studies have demonstrated that women sleeping in bedrooms with higher-than-average magnetic field readings have lower nighttime melatonin levels. Both studies found that certain subgroups of women were more susceptible to this phenomenon – older women, heavier women, and those who take certain drugs such as beta blockers.
Insufficient melatonin can set you up for a number of health problems over the long run.
Connections to Cancer & Longevity
If your melatonin levels remain diminished over time, your risk of cancer increases. Melatonin boosts immune system components that attack cancer cells. Melatonin has been shown to promote cancer cell differentiation into normal cells and inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
There are several hundred published papers documenting melatonin’s effectiveness as an adjuvant cancer therapy. (Ma et al., 2016)
A 1995 study published in the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents offered up a gold mine of revelations about melatonin’s benefits for immune health. One important finding was that melatonin appears to significantly restore immune function in age-related immune decline.
Speaking of aging, melatonin has another benefit: it lowers your body temperature at night. Melatonin is the first substance that has been shown to safely and effectively lower core body temperature in humans, and this is how (at least in part) it promotes sleep.
Melatonin lowers core body temperature in the early hours of the morning, which enables you to enter into deep "hibernation-like" sleep that is revitalizing and restorative.
A study published in Journal of Pineal Research confirmed that melatonin lowers nighttime body temperature in humans – and the effects are dose dependent. The higher the dose, the greater the temperature reduction. (Dawson et al., 1996)
What does this have to do with aging? In two studies, mice given melatonin lived longer!
Melatonin’s anti-aging effects may also relate to another of its protective mechanisms: cortisol reduction. Excess cortisol has deleterious effects on the body. People with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS show markedly elevated cortisol levels. Serum cortisol levels also typically increase with age.
Melatonin is thought to block excess cortisol production, thereby protecting immune cells from the damaging effects of cortisol (Nilsson, 1996) – another nice anti-aging effect.
NEWS FLASH: Two Kinds of Melatonin
Could the most important antioxidant be melatonin, NOT glutathione? According to the latest science, yes!
Recent data reveals that sunlight provides much more than just vitamin D. Did you know that sunlight stimulates all the cells in your body to produce melatonin?
But wait – isn’t melatonin the hormone of darkness?
We used to think so, but new information has come about. Following the science often means shifting gears when new data presents itself - and sometimes the new turns conventional wisdom on its head, as Dr. Eric Berg explains in the video above.
So, here’s the skinny.
There are two types of melatonin: circulatory and subcellular.
|This is the form of melatonin science has been familiar with since its discovery in 1958. Circulatory melatonin is found in the blood and pineal gland and is stimulated by darkness - not by sleep, despite its being referred to as “the sleep hormone.” Theoretically, you could be up and around in the dark and still producing a normal amount of melatonin.|
|This is a second form inside your cells – in the mitochondria - which protects against oxidation and free radical damage. This form is stimulated by sunlight, specifically near infrared wavelengths, and is produced solely by the mitochondria.|
As you can see, melatonin is not just a hormone of darkness but a hormone of sunshine!
Have you ever felt sleepy after spending a couple hours in the sun?
Only recently did it become known that melatonin is present in just about every cell in the body - and mitochondria are capable of producing it. Subcellular melatonin is not passed into the blood, but instead is used to regulate certain functions inside of the cell.
The latest thinking is that the melatonin in your pineal gland is merely a backup for your subcellular melatonin. The subcellular melatonin, which again is driven by the sun’s infrared energy, is responsible for all those health benefits discussed above – immune health, longevity, cleaning up free radicals and the like.
If you don’t have enough melatonin in your cells, then your body will take it from the pineal gland. If your pineal reserves dwindle, the price you pay will be poor sleep, antioxidant deficiency, and inflammation.
Should Melatonin Replace Glutathione as “Master Antioxidant”?
Most of today’s degenerative diseases are now believed to be a result of mitochondrial dysfunction. Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s – they have all been linked to damage from reactive oxygen species.
Normally the body protects against oxidative damage with antioxidants such as glutathione, but guess what? Melatonin may be even MORE important than glutathione because the latest research indicates it triggers the glutathione!
Yep, you read that right.
Glutathione is a superhero in that it acts to recycle the other antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and lipoic acid. However, it is apparently the melatonin that prompts glutathione to do its job. Glutathione is indeed a powerful force, but melatonin is the real firewall. (Reiter et al., 2020)
What happens to your health when melatonin levels fall?
Low melatonin can obviously impact your sleep, but it can also cause inflammation and increase your risk for degenerative diseases, because without subcellular melatonin the mitochondria are subject to increased oxidative stress.
Case in point. Sundown Syndrome (or Sundowners) is a condition afflicting about 45 percent of people with dementia in which they become fatigued and agitated after dark. It has been hypothesized that this condition may occur simply because these individuals run out of melatonin at that time of day.
How to Bump Up Your Body’s Melatonin Production
Being outside in nature - and in the sun - may be just as important as consuming a healthful diet, when you consider the importance of vitamin D and melatonin.
More than 50 percent of the sun’s energy is near infrared (NIR). Other sources of NIR include campfires, candles, fireplaces, and incandescent lights.
Even if you are outside wearing a hat and long sleeves, you still receive beneficial NIR indirectly. The grass, soil, rocks and clouds all strongly reflect NIR radiation. Infrared energy has the ability to penetrate your skull, so it permeates the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes your brain. Infrared also protects against UV radiation.
Infrared is very healing, which is why there are so many people using infrared saunas and NIR laser therapies for pain and recovery from injury. (Barolet et al., 2016)
Unfortunately, today, many individuals experience an infrared deficiency due to exposure to artificial lights, LEDs, blue lights, cell phones and computer screens.
The remedy, first and foremost, is to get out in the sun. Trade in your LED lights for incandescent bulbs and enjoy more candles and campfires. You might also consider investing in a NIR light and exposing yourself for 20 minutes before going to bed.
What About Melatonin Supplements?
Many people have found melatonin supplements helpful for sleep. In my opinion, the liposomal melatonin supplements are the most effective.
The downside is that the duration of effect is short. Many people awaken after a few hours in need of a second dose. It is challenging to achieve a steady level through the night.
Phototherapy Patch Stimulates Melatonin Production
There is an option for boosting your melatonin levels all night long without need of an oral supplement. A company called LifeWave has developed a small patch called Silent Nights, worn on the skin like a little Band-Aid that stimulates the body to produce more melatonin.
This is how it works, in a nutshell...
Your body emits heat in the form of infrared light. When placed on the body, the patch traps this infrared light, causing it to reflect specific wavelengths of light into the skin. The Silent Nights Patches reflect wavelengths that specifically trigger your body’s production of melatonin.
In an efficacy study by Dr. C. Norman Shealy, more than 72 percent of study participants experienced improvements in sleep quality, sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness with Silent Nights Patches. (Shealy, 2011)
You can read more about LifeWave here. They have developed a variety of different patches, including one for glutathione production and two for stem cell activation - all with multiple studies to back them up.
I became an affiliate of LifeWave because I was so impressed with their products and technology. I see this as the perfect companion to shungite for EMF protection. Shungite helps protect us from the outside - and the patches help protect us from the inside. In these times of continuous environmental assaults, we can use as many tools in our tool bag as possible.
If you want more information about LifeWave patches, please feel free to contact me.
Melatonin Information Resources
There is a large volume of science about melatonin. Here are a couple resources for current information and the latest scientific studies.
Melatonin Facts (Medichron Publications LLC)