One of the least talked about symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is insomnia. And yet, it’s often one of the biggest problems. That’s for two reasons. First, the symptoms of Parkinson’s are worse when the patient doesn’t get enough sleep. And second, insomnia is very common in Parkinson’s. And now a new study points out why it is so common, what might be one of the factors causing Parkinson’s in the first place, and what can be done about it.
Researchers used MRI measurements of the brain to compare the size of the hypothalamus in 12 patients with Parkinson’s with 12 patients without the disease. The hypothalamus is a major control center in the brain. It controls all the hormones, including melatonin. They also compared how much melatonin both groups made over a 24-hour period. Here’s what they discovered.
The authors said, “Parkinson’s patients had significantly reduced hypothalamic gray matter volume when compared with matched controls.” This means that their hypothalamuses had shrunk. And when they looked at the melatonin levels, they found that the more the hypothalamus had shrunk the greater the decrease in melatonin production and the worse the symptoms of Parkinson’s were. This brings up a very important question to ask here.
All the Parkinson’s patients had lower levels of melatonin. And the lower they were, the worse the cases were. So which came first? Was it the Parkinson’s disease that caused the decrease in melatonin production? Or was it a decrease in melatonin that caused the Parkinson’s disease? Maybe the answer is both!
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In the study, it’s apparent that the brain shrinkage due to Parkinson’s disease leads to decreased melatonin production. But other studies have shown that having a decrease in melatonin leads to several neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s. And to my knowledge, this is the first study that has shown that there’s a direct connection between having low levels of melatonin and having the worst cases of Parkinson’s. So what’s the relationship between Parkinson’s and melatonin?
As I have reported to you before, melatonin is the most powerful antioxidant in the human body. All the neurological diseases – including Parkinson’s – are caused by excessive free radical production. So it makes perfect sense that the less melatonin a patient with Parkinson’s disease has, the greater the chance his disease will be more severe. And in turn, the more severe the disease is the greater the loss of hypothalamus and the greater the decrease in melatonin. It’s a vicious cycle. So here’s what I advise my Parkinson’s patients.
First, take anywhere between 20-100 mg of melatonin about 60 minutes before bed every night. If I’m right, this will help to slow down and maybe even stop the disease from getting worse. And it may also help getting a good night’s sleep. A good way to get high doses of melatonin without breaking the bank account is to get it in bulk powder form from www.purebulk.com. To measure, one-eighth of a teaspoon is about 60 mg. And don’t forget that melatonin has been shown to be completely safe even in incredibly high doses. Experiment around to see which dose feels the best for you.
Second, if you have Parkinson’s and you’re having trouble sleeping, take it seriously. Many of my patients tell me that they do much better the day after a really good night’s sleep. Try taking three capsules of Advanced Sleep Formula about 45 minutes before bed. And yes, you can safely combine melatonin with this supplement.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Breen DP, Nombela C, et al. Hypothalamic volume loss is associated with reduced melatonin output in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. 2016 Mar 12.