All hormones need to work in harmony with each
other, and when one (e.g. melatonin) becomes deficient, others go out of control,
exactly like an orchestra with one player playing out of tune. Because melatonin affects
the level of the sexual hormones (oestrogens, progesterone and testosterone), its
age-related deficiency has been linked to the menopause in women and to
androgen-deficiency in men.
So far, most research has been carried out on
laboratory animals - the hormone has been seen to slow down ageing in mice and rats.
Several studies suggest that treatment with melatonin may help reverse the symptoms of
sexual dysfunction, but again, these are mainly performed on laboratory animals.
However, a new study on humans by Italian expert Dr Pierpaoli,
reported at an international anti-ageing conference held in July 2001, suggests that
melatonin can help menopausal women. Dr Pierpaolis study was published in the
journal Experimental Gerontology. It
showed the effects of melatonin on 79
menopausal women aged from 42-62 years. Some women were given 3 mg of melatonin at night,
where others were only given placebo (dummy treatment).
After six months of treatment, most women
taking melatonin reported an improvement of mood and a significant reduction of
feelings of depression. Also, all women who were on melatonin were found to have improved
Low thyroid activity is a very common problem
associated with ageing, and as many as 40% of people aged 60 and over may be thyroid
deficient (albeit in a mild form). This study showed that melatonin treatment may help
improve the activity of the thyroid gland and as a consequence, reduce the symptoms
related to low thyroid function such as: tiredness, constipation, muscle aches, thinning
of hair, dry skin and forgetfulness.
This makes melatonin a potential hormone to be
used as an alternative to HRT, or perhaps in addition to HRT.
Other recent studies have also found that
melatonin may slow down the growth of prostate cancer. The exact mechanism of this
action is still not known, but scientists were able to establish that melatonin can
penetrate prostate cancer cells and block their division.
Melatonin is not officially licensed in the UK,
but a doctor may be able to prescribe it following a personal consultation. It is also
available over the internet and it can be obtained quite legally for personal use. It is
freely available in the United Sates and in some European countries. . It is available in
the UK from World Wide Health
tel 08700 760750,
Dr Marios Kyriazis is a private consultant in
anti-ageing. He can be contacted at the
British Longevity Society, PO Box 71, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9DN.
NB The conclusions and opinions above are those of the author,
and are not necessarily held by laterlife.com
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