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Melatonin – Natural Antioxidant

Why Tart Cherries?

Melatonin. The focus of a media blitz from Good Morning America to Newsweek magazine to articles in our daily newspapers, and even 90 Minutes. Books and articles on the subject explode onto the scene almost weekly. Just what's all the hype about?

Cellular biologist Dr. Russell J. Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, can tell you. He has been researching melatonin for thirty years. His studies have led him to the conclusion that melatonin stands as the most powerful antioxidant molecule to be discovered yet a hormone that can preset the body's aging clock, turning back the ravages of time.(1) Scientists may be on the verge of discovering the real "Fountain of Youth" that Ponce de Leon only dreamed about.

The Pineal Gland & Melatonin

Scientists once thought of the pineal gland as the "appendix of the brain," having little use in the neuroendocrine system. Then in the 1960s and 1970s, scientists such as Dr. Reiter began to unravel its mystery as the "biological clock" of the body.(2)

The Hindus referred to the pineal gland as the body's "third eye." Interestingly, it is a light-sensitive vestigial remnant of what actually was a third eye in lower animals.(3,4) Situated deep within the brain and connected by a direct pathway to the eyes, the pea-sized pineal gland controls our sleep/wake cycle, which scientists refer to as circadian rhythm.(4) It secretes almost undetectable amounts of the hormone melatonin in response to periods of light and darkness. The pineal gland produces melatonin only during darkness, while production is suppressed by bright light.(2,3,5)

Melatonin establishes the biological rhythm of every cell in the body. The presence of adequate amounts of melatonin induces sleep .(5) Interruption of routine, such as shift work, jet lag, or even an erratic daily schedule can reduce Melatonin levels and de-synchronize the body's internal biological clock.

Melatonin production rises sharply from almost nothing at birth and peaks in late childhood, falling dramatically just before puberty and declining more gradually into old age.(6)

Free Radical Fighter

Researchers have discovered melatonin to have the most powerful antioxidant properties of any free-radical fighter. Cellular oxidative damage by free radicals has been linked to many degenerative conditions.(4,7,8) Melatonin scavenges and neutralizes the most damaging free redical, the hydroxyl radical, five times better than gluathione, and is twice as effective in deactivating the peroxyl radical as vitamin E. It also stimulates glutathione peroxidase activity and inhibits nitric oxide synthase, thereby reducing the production of the highly toxic hydroxyl and nitric oxide free radicals.(7) These findings point to the anti-aging role of melatonin.

Immune Enhancer

Melatonin also supports immune function through both its antioxidant action and its relationship with the thymus gland.(4) When melatonin was added to the night-time drinking water of older mice, it not only significantly extended their life span, but also kept them disease-free by improving their immune response. Melatonin increased thymus size and cellular activity, strengthening the immune system.(4) Other studies have demonstrated melatonin's immune-enhancing ability in strengthening antibody response, knocking out viruses, moderating the effects of corticosteroid overproduction in response to stress, and rejuvenating thyroid function .

Tart Cherries are Nature’s Sleeping Pill

Low melatonin levels have been correlated with sleep disturbances and insomnia, particularly in the elderly.(2,4,9)Endogenous melatonin, on the other hand, is naturally derived from tryptophan and serotonin.(10) This most likely is the reason that melatonin supplements assist in achieving good quality sleep patterns. Jet lag, a sleep/wake disturbance caused by travel across more than three time zones, responds successfully to melatonin supplementation. The traveler should take the supplement before bedtime at the new location and also avoid bright light, as well as caffeine and alcohol intake, at that time.(2,4)

Tart Cherries for Anti-Aging

After cross-transplantation (switching) the pineal glands of young and older mice, Lesnikov and Pierpaoli demonstrated that the pineal gland is indeed the body's "aging clock." Within five months, it extended the life span and enlarged the thymus glands of the older mice given the young pineal glands, while significantly aging the younger mice with the older pineal glands. In a series of repeated experiments, one group of old mice was given melatonin in their night-time water while the other group did not receive extra melatonin. 



REFERENCES

  1. 1. Cowley, Geoffrey. "Melatonin." Newsweek, August 7, 1995, 46-49.
  2. 2. Bock, Steven J., M.D. and Boyette, Michael. Stay Young the Melatonin Way. New York: Dutton (Penguin Group), 1995.
  3. 3. Guyton, Arthur C., M.D., and Hall, John E., Ph.D. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 9th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1995, 1015-1016.
  4. 4. Pierpaoli, Walter, M.D., Ph.D., and Regelson, William, M. D. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
  5. 5. Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine: The Defnitive Guide. Puyallup, WA: Future Medicine Publishing, Inc., 1993.
  6. 6. Graph by Russell Reiter, Ph.D. in "Melatonin." Newsweek, August 7, 1995, 48.
  7. 7. Reiter, Russel J., Ph.D., et. al. A review of the evidence supporting melatonin's role as a nantioxidant. Jour. of Pineal Research 18:1-11, 1995.
  8. 8. Reiter, Russel J., Ph.D. The pineal gland and melatonin in relation to aging: A summary of the theories and of the data. Experimental Gerontology 30 (3,4): 199-212, 1995.
  9. 9. Haimov, I., et.al. Sleep disorders and melatonin rhythms in elderly people. British Medical Journal 309:167, 1994.
  10. 10. Jan, J.E., et. al. The treatment of sleep disorders with melatonin. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 36:91-107, 1994.
  11. 11. Massion, A.O., et. al. Med. Hypotheses 44(1):39-46, 1995.
  12. 12. Chen, L.D., et.al. Cancer Letter 91(2): 153-59, 1995.
  13. 13. Praast,G., et. al. Experientia 51(4):349-55, April 15, 1995.
  14. 14. Reiter, J.J. Rev. Environ. Health 10(3,4):171-86, Jul-Dec., 1994.
  15. 15. Brakowski, R., et. al. Jour. Biol. Regul. Homeost. Agents 8(3):77-80, July-Sep, 1994.

"Tart Cherries, specifically the Montmorency variety, contain an extremely significant quantity of natural melatonin, enough to produce positive results in the body."

Cherry Benefits

Dr. Russell Reiter, professor of Neuroendocrinology University of Texas

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NEW ZEALAND
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