.. en completely shot. Middleton thought the timing of the doses may have been off since everyones biological clock is different- eight o clock may not have been the correct time. Reviewing her research, Middleton found the two subjects that the melatonin did not work for had their highest body temperatures later in the day than the others. Usually, the lowest body temperature occurs during sleep and the highest in the middle of the day. The two subjects were receiving melatonin at different times in their metabolic cycles.
Middleton repeated the experiment again, but with six subjects who received their melatonin when their temperature cycles corresponded with the two subjects in the first group. Two of these subjects sleep pattern were upset. Between the two experiments, of the eight people receiving melatonin at a determined time, four had trouble sleeping.16 Also at the University of Surrey, Josephine Arendt researched the effect of daily melatonin on biological rhythms. She administered 2 mg of melatonin at five PM for one month to her subjects and another group was administered a placebo. Compared with the placebo, the melatonin produced an advance in evening tiredness.
Alfred Lewy and co-workers at the Oregon Health and Science Center University in Portland showed that administering .5 mg of melatonin for 5 days will alter the bodys bio rhythms. When taken in the morning, the bodys rhythms are delayed and when taken in the early after noon or evening they are advanced. Bruno Cluastrats group from Hopital Neurologique in Lyon, France came to the same conclusions as Lewy. The time of day that melatonin is taken makes a difference. He feels that there may be a possibility that these findings could produce advances in finding treatments for those with bio rhythm problems.17 The reason for these phase shifts and resynchronizations is that they are a result of the melatonin interaction with the internal body clock (IBC), or as referred to before, the portion of the hypothalamus called the SCN. Steve Reppert and co-workers at Harvard Medical School came across melatonin receptors in human postmortem SCN tissue.
Another group from the University of Illinois led by Martha Gillete found that adding melatonin to slices of rat SCN in a culture advanced the timing of neuronal activity rhythm, if the melatonin was given during a period of day to night transition.18 Dr. Alfred Lewys research suggests that melatonin can be used to reset the natural sleep-wake cycle. He states it can be used to relieve jet-lag symptoms. He does warn that melatonin must be administered at the right time of day. If melatonin is taken at the wrong time, jet-lag could worsen.19 In another study, people suffering from jetlag were given melatonin and a placebo.
Melatonin was taken three days before the flight and four days after the flight. In the melatonin subjects, sleep quality was improved and the time needed to fall asleep was reduced. In other studies, there was a 50% reduction in jet-lag with only minimal side-effects. Researchers have also found that a brief nightly dose of 5 mg of melatonin can help airline workers adjust to new time zones. This finding also holds true for night shift workers. Night shift workers were given melatonin and claimed their day time sleep improved as well as their night time alertness.
However, more tests and trials need to be conducted to determine the correct dosage.20 Walter Pierpaoli and William Regelson, two Italian immunologists, book The Melatonin Miracle claim several controversial advantages to using melatonin. Regelson states he wrote the book because pharmaceutical companies will likely drag their feet on researching melatonin because natural chemicals are difficult to patent. The book claims that melatonin has anti-aging properties based on an experiment done on rats.21 The authors surgically switched the pineal glands from ten young and ten older mice. The young mice died in late middle age while the older mice lived a third longer than their life expectancy. Pierpaoli also put melatonin in the drinking water of mice and achieved the same results. The authors are strong believers that humans would have the same results as rats.22 However, Steven M.
Reppert and David R. Weaver of Harvard Medical School found that Pierpaoli and Regelsons experiment was seriously flawed. According to Reppert and Weaver, the mice used in the experiments had a genetic defect making them unable to produce melatonin due to a lack of necessary enzymes. Since melatonin was not involved anywhere in this experiment, it is absurd to claim that it is responsible for the prolonged life span.23 Approximately three years ago, Russell Reiter and a colleague, Jo Robinson, began research on melatonin as an anti-aging drug at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The researchers claim melatonin is a free radical scavenger. Free radicals corrode our cell membranes and DNA and are thought to contribute the aging process.
Free radical damage is known as oxidation. Chemicals that inhibit oxidation are known as antioxidants. Reiter and Robinson found that melatonin has anti-oxidant properties in rats.24 Wurtman feels that while this may be true, there is not enough scientific evidence to determine that melatonin promotes life longitivaty in mice and no evidence to show this could also be true for humans.25 Other claims from the media regarding melatonin include better sex drive and prevention for a myriad of diseases including AIDS, altziemers, heart diseases, and cancer.26 MITs Wurtman states melatonin may worsen conditions in AIDS if anything, not make them better.27 It has not been studied yet, but I think it would not be unexpected for high doses of melatonin to affect sex-drive says Wurtman. He feels taking supplemental melatonin could decrease sex-drive because high levels of the hormone are thought to produce another hormone, prolactin, which decreases sex-drive in males.28 If this hormone does have any powers in the prevention of aging or chronic illness, it will take years or even decades to establish.29 Many people are using melatonin for a variety of reasons but dont seem to be too concerned if there are side effects to using this drug. Sahelian, who monitors about six alternative-health discussion groups administered an informal survey to question melatonin use.
She estimates that 80% of the recent postings regarding melatonin concern better sleep. In her survey results she found that 10% of the users said the hormone had no effect on them and 10% complained of nightmares, headaches, morning grogginess, mild-depression, and low sex-drive. The Food and Drug Administration has only received four complaints about the drug, two complained of disrupted sleep patterns, one of genital pain and the last of nausea. There is no way to determine if melatonin was the primary cause of these symptoms.30 High doses will cause a drowsy feeling and lower reaction time. It has also been recommended that children, teenagers, and pregnant or lactating women abstain from using this.