Aging is inevitable, we don’t have control over the time that passes, but we have control over the way we age. Often the simple things and actions can have huge difference in keeping us healthy as we age. As usual we don’t really care until something goes wrong and we need to adjust our lives to new circumstances.
Processes of aging depend on functions of many organs within the body. Probably the most important regulator is the endocrine system which uses various hormones to regulate all the bodily functions. It is the delicate balance of hormones that keeps us healthy, and because everything within the body is interconnected, a problem in one place can affect other areas.
There are many anti aging drugs and therapies on the market, and many of those work on symptoms only without tackling the cause of the problem.
One medication called Melatonin has been in the spot light for some time as a way to treat age related issues like:
It’s unusual that one medicine can provide benefits for so many various disorders, some of them seemingly unrelated. Use of Melatonin is not limited to older patients. For example people affected by sleep disorders can benefit from this medication regardless of age, it is regarded as ‘all-natural nightcap’ which can help with the jet lag.
Melatonin naturally regulates sleep-to-wake cycles occurring in our bodies, but as we age the natural production slows down. People are also aware of additional benefits like stronger immune system and reduction in free radicals in the body.
In certain countries Melatonin is available as a supplement without prescription, in other areas of the world it’s not sold at all. Studies are under way to determine full range of benefits and possible side effects. In USA Melatonin is widely available and is treated as a dietary supplement. BAsed on FDA guidelines, production of dietary supplements must be free from contamination and consistent, also has to be labeled correctly.
Melatonin functions as a synchronizer of the biological clock and it’s release is dependent on light that passes through retina. Release of the hormone is regulated by pineal gland found in the brain. Dim light conditions trigger the onset of the hormone.
Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant, one of it’s characteristics shows it can easily pass through cell membranes and cross the blood-brain barrier. Once used it cannot be regenerated by the body as many other antioxidants do. It passes through the liver and gets removed.
Many researches are still being conducted on the effects of this hormone, an especially on recognising long term effects. Any prolonged exposure to externally administered hormones may carry a risk. Many of the studies focus on melatonin interaction with immune system, which still remains unclear.
There seems to be very few side effects of short term melatonin use. Even large doses does not seem to be toxic. There is about 10% of people who say this hormone has no effect on them.
Melatonin should be avoided by pregnant women, people with strong allergic reactions, people with autoimmune diseases and immune system cancers. If you intend to use melatonin it is best to consult your doctor.