The ABC’S of Health
By Dr. Jo Gjelsten
Walnuts for You, Nuttin’ You Expected!
Walnuts! What about them? They’re good for you, so start eating them if you can and aren’t allergic. How are they good for you Dr. Jo? They’re a source of melatonin, Mel. You can find melatonin in some yeasts and plants too, Toots. (Ok stop with the names Dr. Jo). Melatonin helps to stop lipid peroxidation which in English means that fat in your system doesn’t become let’s say, rancid. Think oxidation; like rust, and anti-oxidants as anti-rust, Rusty. (Ok I’ll try to stop naming names now). Sometimes we need oxidation, as that’s what actually kills germs and other living buggy things. Think oxidation when you jump in chlorinated water. The chlorine is an oxidant; so is bleach. But what exactly is melatonin anyway? It’s a hormone that can get easily into any of your cells and tissues, except the Kleenex, and can cross the blood brain barrier. Interestingly, it does many things besides putting you to sleep. It helps you to make glutathione, which you all know by now if you’re even slightly interested in nutrition, ok, you may not know. Glutathione is a MAJOR antioxidant. In fact, it’s given intravenously as an anti-poison, a word I just made up. What else? Melatonin, made in your little tiny pineal gland located deep in your very large brain, is involved in making ATP, the whole point or end point of food metabolism, called energy. It’s the human version of “STP” without which you’d be a bag’o’bones laying on the floor. It also helps to protect your mighty mitochondria, the powerhouse of each and every little cell in your body. More? For you, always. A study cited in an article in Laryngoscope and other ENT publications show a benefit for some patients with tinnitus; hypothesized that the better sleep may relax tight muscles and confer a benefit. There is also an interesting, to me anyway, benefit for the prevention of gall stones. How? The antioxidant properties of melatonin, which is plentiful in the gall bladder, helps cholesterol to convert to bile rather than stones. Because it’s anti-inflammatory, it may be low in those with fibromyalgia, a condition where some have sleep disorders. Darkness signals the pineal to make melatonin, and light stops its production, which is why I’ve been waking up at around 5am lately. We also make less as we get older which is why you see some older folks up before the roosters, and if you see them you’re either just getting home from a party or you’re in the older folks category. Because of this, the reduction of melatonin production with age, some folks (I never said folks until I became folksy) may supplement. Some studies show that oxidation associated with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and strokes, may be slowed down with melatonin. Alzheimers patients are low in melatonin. And stroke patients suffer less damage when this hormone is administered at the onset of a stroke. It’s also helpful in reducing some forms of estrogens implicated in promoting some breast cancers by inhibiting aromatase, a substance which synthesizes estrogens in the body. Where else would that happen I wonder. Prostate cancer may ultimately be helped, as laboratory tests have shown a decrease in prostate cancer cells in, you guessed it, animals with prostate cancer. The animals were most upset about the erectile dysfunction, and refused to participate in any more trials. They are now spokes-mice for ED, and are so excited to have support for “when the time is right”, or so I’ve heard. The little guys got mad at the female mice though, who had headaches when they stopped their melatonin, so they would not participate in all the fun. According to a recent serious, studious, study, Stu (ok I couldn’t hold it in any more, I was good for a while though), migraine suffererers were helped with a 50% reduction in incidents, wow, for 32 of the 34 who finished the study. The others went out and banged their heads on the sidewalk like my brother used to do when he got a headache. That never worked for him. Why I don’t know. But his headaches happened every time he ate ice cream, which never stopped him from indulging. We got a kick out of watching him, rotten little kids that we were, and he got a lot of attention so it could have all been an act on the part of my Stevie who I miss like crazy. Back to walnuts. Besides nuts, what can I eat to get more melatonin? Oats and cherries are other natural sources so add walnuts and cherries to oatmeal at night. Who does that? Start a trend. Of course tomatoes and olive oil are sources too, so a salad is a good thing, but none of the above has as much melatonin as a supplement, which you will not do on your own as some common medications may interact with this hormone and vice versa, and in some cases reduce melatonin, so make an appointment already. www.GoDrJo.com for more. Copy it right ! ;-)
I now have information that along with selenium (the right kind) and zinc, melatonin in a specific dose, we can nutritionally support patients dealing with macular degeneration.
(“The bioavailability of oral melatonin is increased by co-administration of the antidepressant drug fluvoxamine (Luvox®).17 Beta blockers, as well as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may decrease melatonin production in the body.17”)
"Melatonin is known as a potent antioxidant as well as the hormone responsible for maintaining our circadian rhythm and healthy sleep cycles. As an antioxidant, melatonin was shown to protect cells and their fragile DNA from the damaging effects of both low and high frequency radiation, according to current research."
Source: International Journal of Radiation Oncology Melatonin as Radioprotective Agent, a review.