Things You Didn't Know about Melatonin, but Should!

I was surprised when 4 of the 5 nationally recognized CAM specialists I consulted with asked me to take high doses of Melatonin (15 - 18 mg) as part of my supplement regimen. You have to build the dose gradually, starting with 2 mg /night. I didn't have problems with sleep then, but was educated as to why this was an important addition for cancer prevention.  There is little reason not to add Melatonin to your diet.  It has been shown to be safe up to those levels.  The only caution is if you are also taking sedative medications like clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien). For other mild drug interactions, click here.

What is Melatonin?

The hormone melatonin, is found in a great variety of organisms.  Melatonin is produced in humans by the pineal gland.  The plant derived form, phytomelatonin, is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States and is used by some CAM practitioners in the treatment of cancer patients.

Long known for its ability to regulate the body`s natural circadian rhythms, melatonin is rapidly emerging as a powerful agent in the fight against brain aging and neurologic deterioration. Melatonin effectively protects both lipids and proteins from free radical damage as it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. The production of melatonin decreases with age and oxidation slowly diminishes the normal electrical communication patterns seen in a healthy brain.

The result of a study published in the Behavioral and Brain Functionsjournal found that patients suffering from neurologic disorders such as Parkinson`s and Alzheimer`s disease were deficient in circulating levels of melatonin.

What does it Do?

Circadian organization of the host-cancer balance is important to cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Both melatonin and chronotherapy have been studied for many years but, despite largely positive findings, have not been brought into mainstream cancer therapy.

All living organisms are organized in biological time, and melatonin, a hormone secreted mainly by the pineal gland, is an important part of this scheme. In the human light-dark cycle, melatonin peaks every 24 hours, between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

The light-dark cycle helps synchronize the activity of the central biological clock. It is also a new member of an expanding group of regulatory factors that control cell  proliferation and loss, and is the only known chronobiotic hormonal regulator of neoplastic cell growth (a cell that is part of tumor).

At physiological concentrations, melatonin suppresses cell growth and multiplication and inhibits cancer cell proliferation in vitro through specific cell-cycle effects. At pharmacological concentrations, melatonin suppresses cancer cell growth and multiplication.

Unique Property of this Antioxidant

The Blood-Brain Barrier is a mechanism that controls the passage of substances from the blood into the cerobrospinal fluid and thus into the brain and spinal cord. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) lets essential metabolites, such as oxygen and glucose, pass from the blood to the brain and central nervous system (CNS) but blocks most molecules that are more massive than about 500 daltons. This means that everything from hormones and neurotransmitters to viruses and bacteria are refused access to the brain by the BBB. It also means that many drugs, which would otherwise be capable of treating disorders of the CNS, are denied access to the very regions where they would be affective.

Key functions of the BBB are:

  • Protecting the brain from "foreign substances" (such as viruses and bacteria) in the blood that could injure the brain
  • Shielding the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the rest of the body
  • Maintaining a constant environment (homeostasis) for the brain

Melatonin is an antioxidant that can easily cross cell membranes and the blood–brain barrier.reference

Melatonin is a direct scavenger of OH, O2, and NO.[5] Unlike other antioxidants, melatonin does not undergo redox cycling, the ability of a molecule to undergo reduction and oxidation repeatedly. Redox cycling may allow other antioxidants (such as vitamin C) to act as pro-oxidants, counterintuitively promoting free radical formation. Melatonin, on the other hand, once oxidized, cannot be reduced to its former state because it forms several stable end-products upon reacting with free radicals. Therefore, it has been referred to as a terminal (or suicidal) antioxidant.

Melatonin Shown to Lower Cancer Risk by 34%

Melatonin has been shown to be effective in the fight against many cancer lines including those affecting the liver, breast, prostate, lung and brain. Melatonin is a powerful and versatile antioxidant that is naturally secreted by the pineal gland at night during total darkness. The natural nutrient can scavenge the most dangerous free radicals that are known to result in genetic deletions that dramatically increase the risk of many cancers.

The result of a meta-analysis of ten studies released in the Journal of Pineal Research demonstrated that melatonin is able to lower the risk of many cancer lines by up to 34%. Researchers found that this protection resulted across all dosage ranges and there were no adverse effects reported. The lead author concluded, "The substantial reduction in risk of death, low adverse events reported and low costs related to this intervention suggest great potential for melatonin in treating cancer."

Read more  here.

Research

Researchers at Harvard evaluated 147 people with invasive breast cancer and 291 without cancer as part of the Nurses Health Study. They took a morning urine sample and measured melatonin levels via a melatonin by-product called 6-sulphatoxymelatonin. The researchers found women with the highest melatonin had the lowest risk of cancer.

Spanish researchers evaluated melatonin supplements as a treatment for rats with advanced and untreated breast tumors. Melatonin given daily significantly increased survival in animals. The researchers concluded that the results strongly suggest that melatonin is beneficial during advanced breast cancer, because it increases survival time.

Additional Reading:

  1. Mills E, Wu P, Seely D, Guyatt G. Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis. J Pineal Res. 2005 Nov:39(4):360-6.
  2. Saez MC, Barriga C, Garcia JJ, Rodriguez AB, Masot J, Duran E, Ortega E. Melatonin increases the survival time of animals with untreated mammary tumours: Neuroendocrine stabilization. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005:278(1-2):15-20.
  3. Markesbery W: Oxidative stress hypothesis in Alzheimer's disease. Free Radic Biol Med 1997, 23:134-147. PubMed Abstract.
  4. Reiter RJ: Oxidative damage in the central nervous system: protection by melatonin. Prog Neurobiol 1998, 56:359-384. PubMed Abstract OpenURLOpenURL
  5. Poeggeler B, Saarela S, Reiter RJ, Tan DX, Chen LD, Manchester LC, Barlow-Walden LR (November 1994). "Melatonin--a highly potent endogenous radical scavenger and electron donor: new aspects of the oxidation chemistry of this indole accessed in vitro". Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 738: 419–20. DOI:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1994.tb21831.x. PMID 7832450.

Help with Chemotherpay Side Effects - Glutamine

I took Glutamine powder during Chemo and didn't have problems with nausea  or diarrhea, and after surgery it accelerated my healing. Seacure® is a supplement with Glutamine that is highly recommended for patients going through Chemo treatment. Founded in 1994 by Dr. Donald Snyder and headquartered in Reading, Pa., Proper Nutrition, Inc. is built on a record of innovation stretching back to the early 1960s, when Dr. Snyder, as the head of a U.S. Department of the Interior Fisheries Research Laboratory, led the charge against world hunger.

Dr. Snyder, as a member of a special committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, was instrumental in developing an economically feasible method of providing protein to the world’s hungry.

A breakthrough came in the form of revolutionary FPC (Fish Protein Concentrate) technology, which allowed quality protein, retaining all of its original nutritional value, to be delivered to the body in a highly absorbable form. FPC was made available to the World Health Organization of the United Nations to aid in famine relief.

Today, Dr. Snyder and Proper Nutrition, Inc. offer revolutionary dietary supplements, including Intestive®, available directly to consumers; and SEACURE® and SEAVIVE®, professional products available for distribution by healthcare practitioners and retailers.  Proper Nutrition supplements offer proven alternatives for the support of the gastrointestinal tract and the promotion of immune system health.

Seacure® (click to read more) is rich in glutamine. What is glutamine? Glutamine is an amino acid (protein building block) that is the preferential fuel source for the cells that line the digestive tract. Just as the brain loves to use glucose for energy, the cells that line the digestive tract love to use glutamine for energy. In fact glutamine helps the cells that line the digestive tract to deal with stress more effectively.

So why are the cells of the digestive tract stressed?

Well, these cells divide rapidly just like cancer cells. The lining of the stomach completely renews itself every 4 days! Unfortunately, chemotherapy hits the cells of the digestive tract just as hard as it hits the cancer cells. This is why chemotherapy medications so often produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Seacure® strengthens the cells of the digestive tract so that they can handle the stress of being hit by chemotherapy medications without interfering with chemotherapy's effects on cancer cells.

Scientific research has found that when glutamine is given with chemotherapy or radiation, it not only protects the individual receiving the treatment from the side-effects of these therapies, it also increases the selectivity of the therapy for the tumor. Click here Scientific Reference if you would like the details of this research which was conducted in 1996.

So why not just supplement with glutamine instead of Seacure®?

The glutamine in Seacure® is better absorbed by the digestive tract than pure glutamine supplements. Why is this? Studies on human digestion have found that the digestive tract preferentially absorbs protein in the di-peptide (2 amino acids joined together) and tri-peptide (3 amino acids joined together) form.

Boost Your Immnue System with Mushroom Soup

This homemade soup captures some of the anti-cancer features of more expensive immune-enhancing soups.  Unlike Sun Soup, it is inexpensive and tasty. Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to improve specific immune markers and contribute significantly to healing processes by stimulating the body’s immune system. They contain high concentration of fiber and act as prebiotic, antioxidant, and antibiotics. They hold anti-hyperlipidemic, hypotensive, and hypoglycemic ability in addition to helping many health conditions such as asthma, ulcers, and kidney inflammation.

Read more about the health benefits of mushrooms here.

Mega Power Mushroom-Lentil Soup

  • 1/4 lb. shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 lb. maitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 lb. oyster mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 c. dried mung beans (pre-soak)
  • 1 1/2 c. dried French lentils (pre-soak)
  • I/4 head green cabbage, sliced in strips
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 c. purified or spring water
  • Sea salt or Tamari to taste

NOTE: If you cannot find fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms are widely available, in the market or over from the Internet. Pre-soak until they are soft, then sliced. Also pre-soak the mung beans and lentils.

Peel the garlic cloves, crush them with flat side of knife.  Wait 10 minutes, and then mince them.

Add the garlic and all the remaining ingredients and cook at a slight boil for two hours, stirring occasionally. Season with reduced-sodium tamari (soy sauce). Try pureeing in a blender. Refrigerate surplus after eating.

Consume one cup of this soup per day, 3-4 times per week.  You may add any other fresh, organic vegetables.

~ Bon Apetit!

The Connection Between Mind And Body

The idea that our minds and emotions play a critical role in our health—a fundamental premise in integrative medicine—is far from new. Many ancient healing systems emphasize the interconnection between mind and body in healing, including Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, who taught that good health depends on a balance of mind, body, and environment. Modern scientific research supports this age-old tenet of medical wisdom. It began in the 1920s, when Harvard scientist Walter Cannon, MD, identified the fight-or-flight response through which the body secretes hormones called catecholamines, such as epinephrine and nonepinephrine. When they enter the blood stream, these hormones produce changes in the body—i.e. a quickened heart or increased breathing rate—that put the person in a better physical state to escape or confront danger.

In the following decade, Hungarian-born scientist Hans Selye, MD, pioneered the field of stress research by describing how the wear-and-tear of constant stress could affect us biologically.

Since then, scores of scientific breakthroughs have illuminated the mind-body connection in health. Experimental psychologist Neal Miller, PhD, discovered that we can be trained to control certain physical responses, such as blood pressure, that were previously considered to be involuntary. This discovery gave birth to biofeedback, which has now been found to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, attention deficit disorder, headache, hypertension, and urinary incontinence.

Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, identified the flip side of the stress response, which he called the “relaxation response.” Benson demonstrated that meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can bring about physiological changes including a lower heart rate, lower breathing rate, and decreased muscle tension along with positive changes in brain waves. Mind-body techniques that elicit this relaxation response have been successful in treating many stress-related disorders.

Research by psychologist Robert Ader, PhD, at the University of Rochester provided a link between the brain, behavior and immune function, and founded the new field of psychoneuroimmunology, which researches ways to increase immune function through the use of the mind.

Based on a Buddhist meditation practice, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts, developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a mediation technique that has successfully reduced physical and psychological symptoms in many medical conditions, including pain syndromes.

“When we are on automatic pilot, trying to get someplace else all the time without being attentive to where we already are, we can leave a wake of disaster behind us in terms of our own health and well-being, because we’re not listening to the body. We’re not paying attention to its messages; we’re not even in our bodies much of the time,” explains Kabat-Zinn. “Mindfulness—paying attention on purpose in the present moment nonjudgmentally—immediately restores us to our wholeness, to that right inward measure that’s at the root of both meditation and medicine.”

Guided imagery, which utilizes the power of imagination to heal, has been shown to reduce anxiety and pain in people with a wide range of medical conditions, including asthma, back pain, and headache, and to help patients better tolerate medical procedures and treatments. “Imagery utilizes the natural language of the unconscious mind to help a person connect with the deeper resources available to them at cognitive, affective and somatic levels,” explains Martin L. Rossman, MD.

Innovative research by Dean Ornish, MD, and his colleagues found that a program integrating mind-body techniques such as yoga, meditation, stress management, and group support with diet and exercise reversed coronary artery disease. “What we are finding is that comprehensive lifestyle changes may ‘turn on’ the beneficial parts of the genome and ‘turn off’ the more harmful parts,” says Dr. Ornish.

Today, these breakthroughs in our understanding of the mind-body connection have translated into effective therapies that support a patient’s journey through illnesses and trauma. Virtually every major medical center now has a stress management or mind-body clinic, and practices such as meditation, yoga, and group support are woven into the medical treatment of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses.

James Gordon, Director and Founder, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, has conducted mind-body skills trainings for patients and health care practitioners around the world. Gordon has said, “Mind-body medicine requires that we ground information about the science of mind-body approaches in practical, personal experience; that we appreciate the centrality of meditation to these practices; and that we understand—experientially as well as scientifically—that the health of our minds and the health of our bodies are inextricably connected to the transformation of the spirit.”

Go to source and watch a short video here.

Four Cornerstones of Healing and Good Health

I can't think of a time when listening to our intuition and participating in our healing is more critical, than after being diagnosed with cancer.

During the first few weeks, while you adjust to the news it is important to choose an ally, someone close to you who is positive and available, to go to appointments with you and take notes, and to be your cheerleader.

Trust me... you will forget much of what is discussed while your mind sifts through a deluge of information and complex emotions.

It is also important to ask questions and go with your intuition when treatment or surgery recommendations are made.  Get a second opinion and research your options... contrary to what you may be told, you have quite a few.

I believe wholeheartedly that our reactions, our actions and our attitude have just as much, if not more, to do with our progression to good health than any other factor.

There are several links and post on this site that address the need to control our mind-body connection in a way that promotes recovery.

Over the past few years I have done considerable research on Complimentary and Alternative Cancer therapies.  My own experience with cancer led me to contact some of the leading respected CAM medical and nutrition practitioners in the country.

I consulted with several on Integrative approaches, since I believe that our body has immense capacity to aid the healing process if we help and allow it to.

'Allow it to' means to have faith in its wisdom, give it the nutrient support it needs to function optimally, enhance its repair processes by remaining positive and focused, listening to its prodding to make necessary changes or its warning about others.

The protocols suggested to me by the 5 CAM practitioners/researchers I had discussion with, had several things in common. Based on these fundamental suggestions, I worked out a diet/nutrition/lifestyle regimen that worked for me.

At first it was challenging to make the changes necessary, but I had the determination and willpower to keep at it until I found a rhythm that worked. Since I am an avid cook and ran a catering service for many years, coming up with recipes that met the nutrition guideline became a happy challenge!

If you go this route, you must believe in your heart that your protocol is as powerful as the medical therapies you may also receive.  In some cases exercise and diet changes offer patients greater benefit than traditional treatment.

If a body is not strong it will struggle to weather the toxic effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation, so it's important to know which supplements and foods will help counteract those effects, before, during and after treatment.

Clinical studies funded by the NIH have demonstrated that some spices, like Cinnamon, can help with Type II Diabetes and actually enhance the benefits of Chemotherapy. And in the case of Cinnamon .. be more powerful in tumor cell death than Chemo drugs!

The four cornerstones of optimal health are:

1. Diet / Nutrition / Lifestyle

2. Stress Reduction

3. Mind-body health

4. Supplements / Homeopathy

Read about each by clicking on the titles.

~ Be Well.