The liver processes almost everything we eat and drink, filters toxins and alcohol from our blood, and helps create the hormones we need every day. But it is prone to damage and disease due to environmental toxins, diets, genetic predispositions, and many lifestyle habits.
But the liver is a robust organ, too. Even if 75 percent of the liver is damaged, it can reproduce new tissue from the remaining healthy cells and regenerate. And research shows that it may get some valuable assistance from melatonin.
Supplemental melatonin is generally known for its sleep-enhancing abilities, but it is a powerful nutrient for many reasons. It works as an antioxidant and promotes glutathione (a natural antioxidant produced by the body), and as an anti-inflammatory.
Because our own natural levels of melatonin decline as we get older, this review examined the role melatonin may have in protecting the liver from a variety of diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and fibrosis. While the researchers admit that more clinical work needs to be done in order to fully understand the relationship between melatonin and liver health, this review shows that there’s much more to melatonin than simply getting better rest.
Bonomini F, Borsani E, Favero G, Rodella LF, Rezzani R. Dietary Melatonin Supplementation Could Be a Promising Preventing/Therapeutic Approach for a Variety of Liver Diseases. Nutrients. 2018 Aug 21;10(9):1135.
In the therapeutic strategies, the role of diet is a well-established factor that can also have an important role in liver diseases. Melatonin, identified in animals, has many antioxidant properties and it was after discovered also in plants, named phytomelatonin. These substances have a positive effect during aging and in pathological conditions too. In particular, it is important to underline that the amount of melatonin produced by pineal gland in human decreases during lifetime and its reduction in blood could be related to pathological conditions in which mitochondria and oxidative stress play a pivotal role. Moreover, it has been indicated that melatonin/phytomelatonin containing foods may provide dietary melatonin, so their ingestion through balanced diets could be sufficient to confer health benefits. In this review, the classification of liver diseases and an overview of the most important aspects of melatonin/phytomelatonin, concerning the differences among their synthesis, their presence in foods and their role in health and diseases, are summarized. The findings suggest that melatonin/phytomelatonin supplementation with diet should be considered important in preventing different disease settings, in particular in liver. Currently, more studies are needed to strengthen the potential beneficial effects of melatonin/phytomelatonin in liver diseases and to better clarify the molecular mechanisms of action.
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