~ Melatonin and Stress



Most people know that melatonin is the sleep hormone. In the States, you can purchase melatonin in grocery stores. It is very safe and one of the best natural medicines available.

But melatonin does much more than induce sleep. Melatonin is THE controlling hormone for many of the diurnal cycles that exist in the body.

Many hormones are secreted on a 24 hour cycle that changes during different periods of the day. Melatonin is secreted ONLY at night during the dark. It's secretion can be blocked by the slighted amount of light, like a night light or a street lamp...or a full moon on a nice clear night.

This is NOT good. We need melatonin. Fortunately, the public in the States can buy all the melatonin they want.

Melatonin controls the diurnal cycle of glucosteroids like hydrocortisone in three ways. When melatonin synthesis spikes at night, maybe 1-2AM, hydrocortisone secretion decreases to its lowest point. As melatonin secretion ceases, hydrocortisone concentrations reach their peak at 6 AM.

Melatonin inhibits hydrocortisone synthesis in the adrenal glands, it blocks synthesis of the hydrocortisone receptor and it activates the enzyme JNK which reacts with the nuclear hydrocortisone receptor and "kicks" it off the cellular DNA and out of the nucleus.

This means that melatonin not only decreases hydrocortisone secretion, it actually blocks the ability of hydrocortisone to affect biochemical pathways in cells by blocking the activity of its receptor.

During stress, elevated amounts of hydrocortisone inhibit melatonin synthesis, thereby inhibiting the hydrocortisone 24 hour cycle. Hydrocortisone secretion becomes flat or constantly elevated.

As discussed in the previous Blog on stress and hypertension, chronic stress, typified by constantly elevated concentrations of hydrocortisone cause vascular damage, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and eventual organ failure.

There is no magic pill to prevent stress, but taking a simple 3 to 6 mg melatonin pill before bed will not only help you sleep, it will restore some normality to stress induced hydrocortisone secretions and sensitivity in the body.

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