Melatonin is a hormone produced from the amino acid tryptophan by the pineal gland. Very small amounts are also produced in the retina (eye) and gut.
Melatonin regulates the body’s sleeping pattern. As we grow older, the pineal gland calcifies and the secretion of Melatonin declines, causing the sleeplessness so often suffered by the elderly. Controlled-release melatonin replacement therapy effectively improves sleep quality in the elderly (Lancet. 1995 Aug 26;346(8974):541-4).
Melatonin also helps with stress and helps the immune system repair itself. It is helpful for migraine and has been shown to slow down the growth of cancerous cells in certain types of cancer. Its role in anti-ageing is that melatonin is the regulator of other hormones released from the brain and diminished secretion may be responsible for ageing.
Melatonin may also significantly affect physical and psychological disorders such as:
- Delayed sleep (jet lag)
- Sexual function
- Immune system