Melatonin is well known as the sleep hormone. But, a lesser known fact is that melatonin is also an important link in the aging cycle. That means if you want to slow down your aging, a melatonin supplement can help. But how does it fit in with the pituitary-HGH-IGF-1 axis?
If you study the biology of aging, you’ll notice that the levels of many hormones start declining simultaneously after we hit middle age, which would be understood as around the mid-forties. The pineal gland responds to this age threshold by reducing its melatonin output. When we get older and less able to breed, nature designs our bodies to start deteriorating.
The decline of melatonin coincides with the onset of many age-related diseases. The drop in melatonin production around puberty signals the onset of adolescence. Melatonin also influences the menstrual cycle in women. Because of this role in the growth and aging cycle of human beings, melatonin has been garnering attention as an anti aging agent.
Scientists have managed to increase the lifespan of lab mice when they gave the mice melatonin. A series of landmark experiments by Dr Walter Pierpaoli have demonstrated that melatonin increased the lifespan of mice by up to 25%. When he cross-transplanted the pineal glands of old mice with young mice and vice versa, the old mice lived longer and better, while the reverse happened with the young mice that received the older pineal glands.
Long term intake of melatonin may increase the levels of IGF-1 and DHEA in the body, evidenced by this experiment done on 14 elderly women. Although the rise is not all that significant, it is enough evidence to me, that melatonin does exert an effect on the pituitary-HGH-IGF-1 cycle. How and why it increases IGF-1 is still not fully clear though.
Right now, melatonin is (still) easy to obtain “over-the-counter” in the US. In the future, who knows, there is a possibility this state of affairs may not continue. Melatonin is currently not available for over-the-counter purchases in many countries outside of the US. As a cheap supplement to any anti aging program, it is a valuable addition that deserves more credit than just merely as a natural sleeping pill. There’s a lot more going for melatonin than what we know right now.