3 Reasons to use Melatonin

Melatonin – or as we like to call it, the wonder hormone – is a hormone produced by the pineal gland; a tiny gland found in our brain.

This gland is thought of as the master controller of our body clock. It manages our day-to-day circadian rhythm, telling us when to sleep and when to wake, and our longer-term biological clock, telling us when we get to experience those wonderful major hormonal milestones, such as puberty and menopause!pineal-gland

The pineal gland controls our circadian rhythms by releasing melatonin. Melatonin synthesis and its release is stimulated by darkness and hence is primarily produced at night. Typically, melatonin is used as a sleep aid to help people overcome jetlag or to help shift workers who have difficulty sleeping.

And that’s why we started using melatonin – to help us sleep. However, melatonin can also help with regulating hormones, thyroid function, our immune system and even help with slowing down aging!

Here are 3 of the benefits to using melatonin:

  1. Melatonin improves your sleep

As we mention above, our pineal gland controls our wake-sleep cycles by releasing melatonin. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness. However, when we watch tv before going to bed or lay in bed playing with our phones, the light from these devices interrupts the release of melatonin.

This disruption throws off the entire melatonin cycle, impacting both the quality and length of your sleep. When you don’t sleep, you suppress all of the systems in your body. Supplementing with melatonin helps your body to regulate its sleep-wake cycle and helps to prevent a breakdown of the other systems in your body.

sleeping

2. Melatonin helps to regulate hormones

I started supplementing with melatonin to help with sleep. However, after a couple of weeks using it, my period returned – after missing for five years! Initially I thought that this was down to the melatonin improving my sleep and therefore reducing the amount of stress in my body. Yet after some further research, I found that melatonin can actually help with regulating hormones.

Italian physician Walter Pierpaoli, MD, in particular, has spent decades researching melatonin and its effects on hormones. Dr. Pierpaoli believes that supplementing with melatonin can not only re-synchronize our circadian rhythms and wake-sleep cycles but also our overall endocrine system.

In one of his studies, Dr. Pierpaoli looked at perimenopausal and menopausal women aged between 42 and 62. This study found that using melatonin supplements for 6 months:

  • Increased estrogen levels,
  • Improved thyroid function,
  • Reduced follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in the women under 50,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in the younger women,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in a number of women who were already postmenopausal,
  • Delayed characteristic endocrine changes that occur during menopause, and
  • Helped with the conversion of T4 to T3, resulting in increased T3 levels in the study group.

3. Melatonin can help slow down aging

As we age, the pineal gland produces less and less melatonin. This natural decline means the pineal gland has to work harder to produce the melatonin we require to sleep well. Supplementing with melatonin allows the pineal gland to rest, protecting the pineal gland from aging and slowing down the aging process of our other glands and organs.

Studies of mice and the effects of melatonin have shown that, when provided with a melatonin supplement, the treated mice demonstrated regained energy, a youthful sex drive and a normal thyroid hormone cycle. As such, melatonin may slow some of the effects of aging.

 

I really believe that melatonin is one of the reasons my period returned after five years. Not only are my hormones returning to normal levels, I also feel much more relaxed and even rested when I wake up in the morning. One thing I should mention though – if you do decided to supplement with melatonin, just be aware that your dreams can become very vivid!!

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Medication for the treatment of Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Having felt tired and lacking zing for most of my life, seeing dozens of practitioners looking for answers and being told by my GP I should wait a little longer! to see what my thyroid antibodies were brewing, I was finally trialled on a low dose of thyroid medication – thyroxine (T4) to be exact. You may know what is coming but bear with me while I tell you about treatment options – sadly I wasn’t given this information.

Many thyroid patients who require thyroid hormone replacement to treat their hypothyroidism are never told that there is more than one medication. Here is a brief overview of the options available:-

Levothyroxine, a synthetic form of the T4 hormone, is the drug of choice for the mainstream and conventional medical world – commonly known here in Australia as Thyroxine. Generally a GP will prescribe only this drug for their hypothyroid patients.

However, as discussed previously, T4 is considered a storage hormone and must be converted in the body to the active T3. Therefore if your body cannot make this conversion, as mine couldn’t, when I started taking thyroxine I felt worse than when I was taking nothing! My body was converting the extra T4 into RT3 and I was like a bear heading into hibernation, every bodily function was slowing even further.

What next! After a great deal of research I found a doctor who knew a little about Natural Desiccated Thyroid, also known as NDT. NDT is a prescription drug derived from the dried thyroid glands of pigs. NDT is natural and gives you what your own thyroid would be giving you: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Most endocrinologists and many mainstream physicians do not support or prescribe the use of natural desiccated thyroid drugs.

For many, NDT is the answer and they live well on it. However, once again, I did not thrive on NDT – due to the fact that it still contains T4 and my body continued to convert this to RT3. My reverse T3 level continued to rise and I continued to feel unwell.

Life had become all about research, knowing there must be an answer out there!

Thankfully I found, for me, there was – in the form of Liothyronine. Liothyronine is a synthetic form of the active T3 hormone. Here in Australia it is called Tertroxin and generally not prescribed by mainstream GPs but nutritional doctors do – thank goodness! T3 takes more care to use as it has a short half-life, meaning its affects run out after 4-5 hours. I have alarms set on my phone to sound every 4 hours of daylight! but it is worth it. My body gets the active T3 I need to feel well for the first time in my life!

Hypothyroidism, and its associated health issues, is a complex disorder that requires understanding and help from people who really know – these may be fully qualified practitioners or people who have lived with it and found answers.

If you feel unwell and know something is wrong but can seem to find help, please contact us. We can point you in the right direction, provide contact details for practitioners who understand and don’t just tell you to ‘eat less exercise more’ or ‘it’s all in your head’. There is a wonderful, healthfull life to be lived out there for us all!