Fact or Fiction: Is Melatonin Natural?

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:

  • Is a synthetic hormone used in dietary supplements
  • Is not an herb, vitamin or mineral
  • Does not come from the earth

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:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Next-day grogginess
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Vivid dreams and Nightmares

Additionally,

  • Short-term feelings of depression (Dr. Axe)
  • And impaired sex drive (Dr. Sam Robbins)

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 .

Sources:

  1. Dr. Oz episode http://www.doctoroz.com/article/melatonin-not-magic-bullet-sleep
  2. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin
  3. Dr. Oz Health Topics : https://www.sharecare.com/health/valerian/what-are-health-benefits-valerian
  4. Huffington Post Wellness Topics: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/melatonin-dosage-and-risks_us_56deff8ce4b03a40567a1e1e

Help Your Immune System Help You

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 slee
p.
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.

    5. Relationships.
    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.

    References:
    1http://greensmoothiegirl.com/2009/12/01/heres-the-green-smoothie-recipe-i-almost-always-use/

    2 U.S. National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016

    What makes a superior supplement?

    .
    Is it the ingredients, the formulation of the ingredients, the delivery method or the manufacturing process? Obviously it is yes to all of the above and it can make a significant difference to you. You need to feel confident that you can get the results you want for a happier and healthier lifestyle. It is always wise to check the source.

    Ingredients:
    In my previous post, “Whole Foods for a Happy, Healthy and Productive Life” ingredients in their whole natural state are best. Only Non-treated or steam treated organic and wildcrafted botanicals (herbs) should be used. There are plenty of cheaper ingredients when available and used by many companies.

    Formulation:
    You may have the highest quality ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies but if the proper steps are not followed (correct proportions, order, temperature and time), you will not get a delicious tasting cookie. Only experienced professionals with extensive knowledge of the historical use of herbs can provide formulations that will get results. Formulators for NutriRain have training that includes degrees from The School of Natural Healing.

    Delivery Method:
    Herbal formulations are available in tablet, capsule, pill, liquid, oil and extract states. Oils are external and tablets, capsules, pills and liquids are swallowed. NutriRain chose extracts due to their superiority over other formula states and combined it with an oral sprayer. The sprayer delivers a metered dose of extract formula that is more easily and quickly absorbed by the body. Oral spray is an effective method for the body to assimilate nutrients.

    Manufacturing Process:
    Botanical extracts are best for several reasons. First they are naturally concentrated. For example, extracts used in NutriRain dietary supplement sprays are a 4:1 ratio (4 part herb to 1 part vegetable glycerin or in some cases a small amount of pure grain alcohol). NutriRain uses a proprietary cold percolation process originally developed by the John R. Christopher to ensure that no enzymes are destroyed. This extraction process preserves the natural occurring enzymes in the plant. Unfortunately it’s all too common for other manufacturers to use a heating process which destroys many of the vital nutrients and enzymes in the plant. The glycerin is tested for DEG contamination and is DEG free, kosher, and derived from palm.

    Secondly they have a longer shelf life than dry herbs and thirdly they are easy to take (no difficulty swallowing hard tablets or dry capsules). NutriRain also makes them pleasant tasting by adding cinnamon oil (Cinnamomum verum ) for natural flavoring.

    CofA’s (Certificates of Analysis) are standard for dietary supplement ingredient sourcing but the manufacturing process for NutriRain includes additional qualifying steps. Each ingredient is validated for efficacy before acceptance for use through High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography and then again once each batch is finished to ensure the highest quality. Many competitors use IR (Infrared) to verify the identity of each plant. This method is cheaper, less accurate & does not have the ability to detect contaminates, such as pesticides in the herb. NutriRain also used Organoleptic testing and a full spectrum of Microbiological Testing on each plant. These tests include TVC (Total Viable Count), yeast and mold counts, coliform counts, E-coli and salmonella. Additional quality assurance tests are performed on all raw materials include High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography & Heavy Metal ICP-MS test.

    This manufacturing process meets and exceeds current government GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) quality standards and is more testing than many competitors. All to ensure the highest quality and consistency. The NutriRain facility is climate-controlled, contains a state of the art laboratory and performs regular in house audits as well as FDA audits