There are many sleep aid, dietary-supplement products from the nutrition section of your local grocery or health food store. Some from big-name-brand, dietary-supplement companies. Can you take for granted that melatonin is therefore natural?
A dictionary definition of natural is “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.”
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin used by our bodies is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. In his television episode, “Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep,” Dr. Oz states,
“Melatonin is a hormone. It tells your body that it’s nighttime and it’s time to go to bed. It is not an herb, a vitamin, or a mineral. Hormones are naturally produced by your body as you need them. Which means it is very unlikely that someone has a melatonin deficiency. While a melatonin supplement could be considered natural, in most cases, it doesn’t come from the earth.”1
Using Melatonin is essentially undergoing hormone therapy. Any hormone therapy regiment should be carefully administered by a qualified practitioner so as to not create an imbalance or worse: unwanted side effects, thus potentially doing more harm than good. Melatonin is not a sleep hormone but is a stress hormone. Improper supplementation could trick the body to reduce the natural melatonin hormone it produces and excess amounts from supplementation can stress the body.
Where does Melatonin come from?
Bovine grade melatonin, also known as “natural”, or animal, contains the actual extracts of the pineal gland. Because it comes from animal tissue, this grade of melatonin may be accompanied by viruses or proteins that could cause an antibody response. It is highly recommend that people stay away from it.
The alternative substance used in dietary supplements is synthetic or pharmacy grade melatonin C13H16N2O2, or 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, which is a compound produced in a laboratory from pharmaceutical grade ingredients.2
To summarize so far, Melatonin:
According to the definition of natural, melatonin, which is “made or caused by humankind”, is not natural.
Is Melatonin Safe to Use?
“The word ‘safe’ is used very freely and loosely with this drug,” (David Kennaway, University of Adelaide)4.
“Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia,” (Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Arizona)4.
Again referring to the television episode, “Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep,” Dr. Oz states that possible side effects from doses of melatonin (2-3 mg or higher) include1:
Valerian Root: The Natural, Safe & Effective Choice
The Valerian plant (Valeriana officinalis) is native to both Europe and Asia and is now also grown in North America, has long been used medicinally, particularly for sleep -- the ancient Greeks wrote about its power in treating sleeplessness. It is the plant’s root that is cultivated and processed for use in supplements.3
It has a sedative effect and useful in treating insomnia, particularly in helping to reduce the amount of time that it takes to fall asleep. Valerian is regarded as a mild tranquilizer and has been deemed safe by the German Commission E for treating sleep disorders brought on by nervous conditions. Unlike prescription or OTC sleep and anxiety medication, valerian is not habit-forming, nor does it produce a hang-over-like side effect.3
Valerian root has been used for centuries to regulate the nervous system and relieve insomnia, tension, irritability, stress, and anxiety. Valerian is also a natural pain reliever that reduces sensitivity of the nerves.3
Back to our definition of “natural”, valerian root is “existing in or caused by nature.” Valerian root is natural.
It is safe and effective in treating sleep disorders, nervous conditions as well as other important health benefits.
NutriRain’s Delta Sleep utilizes fresh valerian root extracted within hours of harvesting. Fresh extract is a superior form of valerian root compared to common dry powders. First, fresh Valerian root is naturally extracted using a proprietary cold percolation process for peak purity and potency (a 4:1 concentration). Second while dry valerian found in most sleep aid dietary supplements will calm nerves, fresh valerian extract provides a broader application of benefits which include effectively supporting improved sleep quality, duration, relaxation and relief from stress and anxiety. Dry valerian found in most dietary supplements will calm nerves. Lastly liquid extracts such as NutriRain’s Delta Sleep, are naturally broken down through the extraction process so as to be more easily, quickly, and fully absorbed and utilized by the body. It can be purchased at www.nutrirain.com .
Your immune system works hard to protect you from germs, viruses, and chronic illness. It could use your help. Here are some ways to provide your immune system with a well deserved boost and be healthy during this winter season.
1. Get adequate sleep.
You’re more likely to catch a cold or other infection when you’re not getting enough sleep as the following lab experiment demonstrates: When students at the University of Chicago were limited to only 4 hours of sleep a night for 6 nights and then given a flu vaccine, their immune systems made only half the normal number of antibodies.
Lack of sleep can also lead to higher levels of a stress hormone and may also lead to more inflammation in your body.
2. Exercise regularly.
Even a daily 30-minute walk can help your immune system fight infection better. Exercise can also boost your body's feel-good chemicals (endorphins) and help you sleep better. Both of which improve your immune system.
3. Eat a healthy diet.
Consumption of sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria which can last for at least a few hours. Instead, eat more brightly colored fruits and vegetables including berries, citrus fruits, apples, red grapes, kale onions, spinach, garlic, sweet potatoes and carrots. These are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Consider making a green smoothie drink. A good one is found on GreenSmoothieGirl.com1.
Some botanicals have shown historically to provide immune boosting properties. Echinacea for example, encourages white blood cells and lymphocytes to attack invading organisms, thus increasing the number and activity of immune system cells. Elderberry (Sambucus) is high in a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can help alleviate bothersome cold/flu symptoms. It also contains a property that stimulates the body's own defenses by producing anti-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
A study2 published in the Journal of International Medical Research shows that the majority of flu patients given Elderberry (Sambucus) were completely symptom-free after just two days.
4. Relax, smile and laugh.
Stress can make you more vulnerable to illness. Chronic stress exposes your body to a steady stream of stress hormones that suppress the immune system. Do something you enjoy and that is relaxing. Click here for some relaxing tips.
Laughing is good for you. It curbs the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
Having strong relationships and a good social network is healthy. Studies show that people who feel connected to family and friends – whether it’s a few close friends or a large group – have stronger immunity than those who feel alone.
Incorporating these suggestions can help boost your immune system and prepare you for a healthier wintertime season.
Related Products: NutriRain’s Defense Immune contains fresh echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, eleuthero, yarrow and goldenseal in a convenient, fast acting, extract spray that you can take with you anywhere for immediate use.
2 U.S. National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
Our bodies work hard each day. They require nourishment to supply energy, replenish and repair muscles, organs and skin as well as support the immune system to fight diseases. Each day we consume food and water to provide our bodies with what they need to have a happy, healthy and productive life. How can we get the most of what we eat? Most would agree that a diet of natural healthy foods is the foundation. What is a truly natural food?
The term “natural” has a very broad application by manufactures today. For this discussion, natural is defined “as found in nature” or plants in their whole state or “whole foods.” This includes organic, non-GMO and free of pesticides or other chemicals. ”Wildcrafted1” is whole plants in their natural state. Wildcrafting will be discussed in greater detail in an upcoming article.
"We live in a society that eats so much processed and manufactured food, that I think there's some genuine confusion about what qualifies as a whole food," says Tara Gidus, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
When you eat whole foods, you're getting the food in its natural state," Gidus tells WebMD. "You're getting it intact, with all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are in the food." Basically, it's the healthy whole food, rather than the bits that remain after refinement and processing2.”
Our bodies are designed to easily recognize whole food as found in nature. Whole food is easily and completely assimilated and utilized by the body. Assimilation is facilitated by the digestive process beginning in the mouth where it is chewed, mixed with saliva and swallowed continuing the process.
Standardized, processed or synthetically produced substances also called food are more difficult for the body to recognize, properly digest and utilize. Plant chemistry is very complex and to attempt to isolate a compound and standardize it is a feeble attempt to improve on nature. Optimal results can best be achieved when trusting the balance and combination of the unique list of compounds found in natural whole foods. All compounds in Echinacea, for example, work properly together for the best result.
We all want to enjoy life to the fullest, feel young and energetic and eliminate disease as much as possible. A diet of whole foods and dietary supplements formulated with whole plants, as found in nature, along with proper exercise, regenerative rest, plenty of fresh air and water and balanced emotions provides the sure foundation. Whether shopping for your dinner menu or selecting the proper dietary supplement, look for whole food/plant sources.
The ingredients in NutriRain brand supplements are whole botanical plant based as found in nature.
The next article will discuss how to best utilize whole foods and plants for dietary supplements to provide optimal results.