How Seasonal Melatonin Changes Affect MS

Multiple sclerosis, referred to as MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system. No proven, direct causes are known, nor have any proven cures been found. Yet, through new findings, we’re starting to realize the effects of hormones on our health, including the very one that helps us sleep — melatonin.

Seasonal changes in melatonin have been shown to alter mood, health, weight, and even heart disease symptoms. Now, it has been suggested that shifts in melatonin can affect MS, too.

A ​recent report shows that those with fluctuating melatonin levels may be more prone to the development of MS. Melatonin changes that occur in the transitions between fall, winter, spring and summer have also been linked to flare-ups in individuals diagnosed with MS.  

Melatonin changes and MS 

The pineal gland in the brain is responsible for secreting serotonin and melatonin. When this doesn’t happen normally during seasonal changes, problems can occur. Nocturnal secretion of melatonin has been found to be low in patients with depression and MS.

Research has found that melatonin significantly affects these illnesses, even though the studied individuals had no history of other psychiatric or psychological problems. 

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the central nervous system, and melatonin controls the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory activities in the immune response.

Studies have shown that patients with MS who get more sleep also experience less flare-ups, reduced symptoms, and generally experience better health. Other studies have shown that individuals who get high-quality sleep also experience a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and depression.

Clearly, our bodies need melatonin, and the best way to help ourselves produce more, without solely depending on perfect adaptation to the seasons, is through our diet and lifestyle.

Why supplements aren’t always the best choice

High-quality melatonin supplements from a source you trust can be helpful to reset the body’s circadian rhythms during a major change in location, jet lag, or during the change of seasons. However, they are not a good option to use on a regular basis, since they may cause morning drowsiness, and may potentially lead to damage over time.

It’s much better to eat foods that contain melatonin-producing properties. These include the following: 

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Pumpkin
  • Cherries
  • Butternut squash
  • Pineapple
  • Corn (organic and non-GMO)
  • Tomatoes

melatoninComplex carbs, including sweet potatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, rice, beans, legumes and lentils, also boost the amino acid tryptophan that produces serotonin and melatonin. This can help promote sleep naturally.

Other tips to fight MS flare-ups:

Studies have shown that those who prioritize sleep, manage their stress, eat a healthy diet, and obtain enough vitamin D through daily sun exposure, generally suffer less flare-ups. These activities also support overall immune and hormone function naturally.

Exercises like walking and yoga are highly beneficial for the immune system, and they also aid in relaxation. 

So many health benefits come from improving your sleep. Consider that your entire next day depends on how you slept the night before, so make your sleep as high a priority as your diet and exercise routine. 

To further improve your sleep, check out these eight natural remedies for better sleep, and do your best to eat a simple, whole-foods diet to support your hormones and immune system the natural way.

—Heather McClees

Heather McClees is a professional health journalist and Certified Holistic Nutritionist from South Carolina.She received her B.S. Degree in Nutrition Science and Dietetics, and is most passionate about helping others discover the gift of of holistic health, showing others how to create healthy recipes based on their favorite foods, physical fitness and yoga, and creative writing.

Sources:­sclerosis/news/20150910/seasonal­melatonin­levels­m ay­affect­ms­flare­ups­study­says­sclerosis/going­herbal­vitamins­and­suppleme nts­for­multiple­sclerosis­news/articles/2015/09/10/seasonal­melatonin­levels­m ay­affect­ms­flare­ups­study­says


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