Melatonin is quite possibly the most amazing new substance available to the general public. An explosion of research on this molecule in the past decade has shown it to have a multitude of effects in animals and humans, even in plants and one-celled organisms.
It may be one of the oldest molecules that exist in living creatures, having been found in every plant and animal searched to date. And whether it is found in a one-celled algae or a human being, the melatonin molecule seems to have the exact same structure, a phenomenon rarely seen in nature.
In humans, melatonin is produced in a tiny structure deep in the middle of the brain called the pineal gland, which releases the hormone into the blood primarily at night (some five to ten times as much of it is released during the night as during the day).
Light turns out to be the critical factor; when daylight strikes our eyes, it conveys a message to the brain which blocks the production and release of melatonin. On the other hand, it takes sufficient amounts of exposure to light in the daytime to “prime” the pineal gland to produce melatonin at night. (more…)