I was surprised to see a clinical report using the nutritional supplement melatonin in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science, simply because it’s a very conservative journal, rarely acknowledging the existence of natural medicine.
Your body produces melatonin, the sleep hormone, when your brain is stimulated by darkness. Melatonin is made in the following sequence:
- Tryptophan, an amino acid (one of the building blocks of protein-rich foods) undergoes a conversion to
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which goes on to convert to
- Serotonin, and then into
You can see how any situation where your feel-good serotonin is low causes melatonin to be low as well. This may be one of the reasons why some people who are depressed sleep poorly, and why taking a natural or prescription antidepressant to raise serotonin often helps sleep problems.
But serotonin is also linked closely to estrogen, so closely that in any situation in which your estrogen falls–such as during PMS days or perimenopause–your serotonin levels drop too. This can result in the irritability of PMS and the depression/anxiety that sometimes accompany perimenopause.
Back to the Annals article: researchers measured blood amounts of melatonin in perimenopausal women and (because melatonin levels are closely linked to estrogen and serotonin) found low melatonin levels.
And then they asked: What would happen if these perimenopausal women took melatonin as a supplement? The surprising result was a virtual reversal of certain aspects of the aging process.
The melatonin acted on the pituitary gland (your body’s master gland) to stimulate the ovaries and thyroid to act “younger.” Women reported less depression, better sleep, more energy, and even, for some, a return of regular menstrual cycles.
Melatonin has been around for years and is quite safe. Reflect on this very interesting study and if you want to try melatonin for perimenopausal-related depression, fatigue, or insomnia, you can order the melatonin I use in my practice by clicking here. The dose recommended in the study was 3 mg, taken at bedtime.