Brain Talks: Fighting to remember ~ Melatonin & Alzheimer’s Disease (Part 1)

Did you know…

  • One person in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) every 65 seconds.
  • Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death.
  • 5.8 million Americans are living with AD, with this number expected to reach 14 million by the year 2050.
  • Deaths from AD increased by 145 percent between 2000 to 2017
  • Approximately one in three seniors (65 years or older) die from AD or some form of dementia, more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
  • There is currently NO EFFECTIVE TREATMENT for this devastating disease.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, see this Brain Talks article: A Beginner’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Part of my master’s thesis was showing the benefits of melatonin, in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Today, I’m going to share a bit of that information with all of you. There’s a lot of information, so, I’ve decided to break this into a 2 part series. This article discusses melatonin. In part 2, we’ll discuss phytomelatonin (plant based melatonin) and safe supplement sources.

What is melatonin?

Before I get to phytomelatonin, it’s important to know about melatonin. You have more than likely heard of this hormone as a key to healthy sleep, which is very true. However, It’s far more important to the body than a sleep hormone, which is what I discovered in my thesis research.

Melatonin, N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a neurotransmitter produced by the pineal gland. Other melatonin producing sites can be found in the retina and throughout the digestive system. However, melatonin produced in the pineal gland is known to be more powerful and concentrated than is produced elsewhere in the body.

Pineal produced melatonin is also the substance used to regulate the circadian rhythm and internal body clock.

The primary function of melatonin is regulation of the daily light/dark cycles within the body. This light-dark cycle, or circadian clock, controls the production of melatonin. Melatonin is produced from tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin. Through a light-dependent process, part of that serotonin is sent to the pineal gland, where it is converted into melatonin.

Melatonin is then slowly released in the evening, as darkness approaches. This release increases throughout the night, reaching a peak between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.

In my previous Brain Talks article, I discussed Alzheimer’s disease and possible causes. Here’s a reminder of five main lifestyle causes:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Brain supporting nutrient deficiencies
  • Toxins
  • Oxidation

Benefits of Melatonin

As I discovered in my research, Melatonin is a wonder hormone. Here are just some of the wonderful things it does in relation to the 5 causes of Alzheimer’s disease:


  • Melatonin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, especially in regard to age-related neuroinflammation, as is seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Melatonin down regulates or stops the of proinflammatory process. (slows it down)
  • These age-related anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin also extend to other parts of the body including the liver, pancreas and lungs.
  • The most important benefit of Melatonin in relation to Alzheimer’s is: Melatonin also inhibits the secretion of amyloid plaque, seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.


  • Melatonin decreases insulin secretion.
  • Insulin is made in the pancreas. Melatonin receptors, known as MT-1 and MT-2, are present on pancreatic cells.
  • Melatonin stops insulin from being produced. Melatonin activates these MT-1 and MT-2 receptors, which stop two insulin stimulating messengers, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).


  • Melatonin is known as “the regulator of regulators.”
  • One function of melatonin is to regulate the levels of all other hormones.
  • Melatonin maintains homeostasis or balance throughout the body by fine tuning the levels of other hormones.
  • Melatonin is known to directly regulate the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Melatonin is also known to boost production of BDNF – Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which stimulates the growth of new neurons. As you might imagine, this is important for Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Melatonin is a powerful and effective of antioxidant and anti-toxin agent.
  • Melatonin directs free-radical scavenging throughout the body.
  • The many protective benefits of melatonin include: the reduction of free-radicals, the regulation of immune responses, reduction of toxic substances and protection for the liver.

Melatonin Deficiency

Melatonin production decreases with age: a 10 year old produces thirty to fifty percent more melatonin than a 60 year old. Research indicates that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have lower melatonin levels than peers of the same age. This deficit is seen by Alzheimers researchers as a contributing factor in the development of the disease. Some other causes of Melatonin deficiency include:

  • A malfunctioning circadian clock
  • There is some evidence that Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF) affect melatonin production
  • Zinc and Magnesium deficiency – these minerals are needed in the production and secretion of melatonin.
  • Some drugs inhibit production including: caffeine, NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), Beta blockers

What happens when you’re Melatonin deficient?


  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Parkinson disease
  • Schizophrenia


  • Restless legs
  • Sleep problems/insomnia
  • Moodiness or depression
  • Intestinal problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Increased aging

Closing thoughts

As you can see, melatonin is much more than just a sleep hormone. It is a master hormone, a regulator of regulators. It controls other hormones, levels of inflammation, Alzheimer’s causing amyloid plaque to name just a few. In the next issue of Brain Talks, I’ll touch on phytomelatonin, which is plant based melatonin and safe sources of this whole food supplement.

We covered a lot of science in today’s article. Let me know if you have any questions.

Until next time, Namaste my friends!



!. Arnao, M.B., and Hernandez-Ruiz, J., (2018). Phytomelatonin versus synthetic melatonin in cancer treatments. Biomedical Research and Clinical Practice DOI: 10.15761/BRCP.1000170

2. Baltaci, A.K., Mogulkoc, R., and Baltaci, S.B., (2019). Review: The role of zinc in the endocrine system. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. Retrieved from:

3. Bredesen, D.E., (2017). The end of Alzheimer’s: The first program to prevent and reverse cognitive decline. Penguin-Random House: New York, New York.

4. Esteban-Zubero, E., Alatorre-Jimenez, M.A., Lopez-Pingarron, L., Reyes-Gonzales, M.C., Almeida-Souza, P., Cantin-Golet, A., Ruiz-Ruiz, F.J., Tan, D.X., Garcia, J.J., and Reiter, R.J. (2015). Melatonin’s role in preventing toxinrelated and sepsis-mediated hepatic damage: A review. DOI:

5. Feeney, K.A., Hansen, L.L., Putker, M., Olivares-Yanez, C., Day, J., Eades, L., Larrondo, L.F., Hoyle, N.P., O’Neill, J.S., Van Ooijen, G., (2016). Daily magnesium fluxes regulate cellular timekeeping and energy balance. Nature.DOI: 10.1038/nature17407

6. Garcia-Marin, R., Fernandez-Santos, J.M., Morillo-Bernal, J., Gordillo-Martinez, F., Vazquez-Roman, V., Utrilla, J.C., Carrillo-Vico, A., Guerrero, J.M., and Martin-LaCave, I., (2015) Melatonin in the thyroid gland: regulation by thyroidstimulating hormone and role in thyroglobulin gene expression. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. Retrieved from:

7. Hardeland, R., (2018). Melatonin and inflammation: story of a double-edged blade. Journal of Pineal Research. DOI: 10.1111/jpi.12525

8. Luo, Y., Peng, M., and Wei, H, (2017) Melatonin Promotes Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Expression and Anti-Apoptotic Effects in Neonatal Hemolytic Hyperbilirubinemia via a Phospholipase (PLC)-Mediated Mechanism. DOI: 10.12659/MSM.907592

9. Mackenzie, G., (2016). Symptoms Of Melatonin. Retrieved from:

10. Panda, S., (2018). The circadian code. Rodale Books. Crown Publishing: New York, New York.

11. Peschke, E., Bahr, I., and Muhlbauer, E., (2013). Melatonin and Pancreatic Islets: Interrelationships between Melatonin, Insulin and Glucagon. DOI:10.3390/ijms14046981

12. Peuhkurl, K., Sihyola, N., and Korpela, R., (2012). Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food and Nutrition Research. DOI:

13. Pierpaoli, W., Regelson, W., and Colman, C. (1996). The melatonin miracle: Nature’s age- reversing, disease fighting, sex enhancing hormone. Pocket Books: New York, New York.

14. Reiter, R.J., and Robinson, J. (1995). Melatonin: Breakthrough discoveries that can help you combat aging; boost your immune system; reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease; get a better night’s sleep. Bantom Books: New York, New York.

15. Reiter, R.J., Tan, D.X., Manchester, L.C., Simopoulos, A.P., Maldonado, M.D., Flores, L.J., and Terron, F.M., (2007). Melatonin in Edible Plants (Phytomelatonin): Identification, Concentrations, Bioavailability and Proposed Functions. World

Review of Nutrition and Dietetics. DOI: 10.1159/000097917

16. Savage, R.A., and Miller, J.M.M., (2018). Melatonin. Stat Pearls. Retrieved from: Bookshelf ID: NBK534823

17. Sharma, S., Singh, H., Ahmad, N., Mishra, P., and Tiwari, A., (2015). The role of melatonin in diabetes: therapeutic implications. DOI: 10.1590/2359-3997000000098

18. Sherzai, D., and Sherzai, A., (2017). The alzheimer’s solution: A breakthrough program to prevent and reverse the symptoms of cognitive decline at every age. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, New York.

19. Srinivasan, V., Pandi-Perumal, S.R., Cardinali, D.P., Poeggeler, B., and Hardeland, R., (2006). Melatonin in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. DOI: 10.1186/1744-9081-2-15

20. St. John, T.M., (2018). Effects of Melatonin Deficiency. Retrieved from:

21. Tan, D.X., Xu, B., Zhou, X., and Reiter, R.J., (2018). Pineal calcification, melatonin production, aging, associated health consequences and rejuvenation of the pineal gland. Molecules. DOI:10.3390/molecules23020301

22. Vectormine, (n.d.) Pineal gland anatomical cross section vector illustration diagram with human brains. Medical information poster. Retrieved from:

cross-section- vector-1097435732?studio=

8 thoughts on “Brain Talks: Fighting to remember ~ Melatonin & Alzheimer’s Disease (Part 1)

I'd love to know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.