Adrenal health, melatonin, and sleep may not be words that come to mind when someone is thinking about their immune system and being a breast cancer conqueror. However, they are all connected and have a domino effect once put in place.
For years, I ignored my adrenal health and suffered from adrenal insufficiency. Meaning, that my adrenal glands produced insufficient amounts of cortisol and adrenaline. My adrenals were burned out from a lack of sleep, and a pile of chronic stress wore heavy on me as I was burning both ends of the candle. I was literally burning out, and it was really affecting my health. I knew that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t sleep well, felt burned out, and needed a refill on catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) – so I started researching and creating.
First, I rewrote my daily schedule to prioritize healing relaxation, and restorative sleep. Second, I researched specific nutrients that would support relaxation, nourish my adrenals, and help promote quality sleep. The following supplements have made a huge difference in my adrenal health based on my saliva testing and lab work: Adrenal Calm, and Melatonin – Slow Release, I also discovered that high dose melatonin Melatonin Max 60mg, created by Scientific Health Solutions, provides powerful antioxidant support for anyone on a healing journey or anyone who want to support vibrant health.
Our bodies are marvelous, integrated structures. They can heal and reverse most health challenges if properly supported. Saying integrated is an understatement. Every single day I am in awe of just how connected every facet of our bodies is to each other. In this case, it surprises many people to discover adrenal health is directly related to the immune system. Read on to discover how chronic stress is directly linked to breast cancer. I have also included action points to support your adrenal health and increased melatonin.
In the last few years, no one will deny that collectively the world has been experiencing levels of chronic stress like never seen before. Chronic stress does its damage mainly through cortisol. The adrenal glands produce this hormone through signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary (H-P-A axis). Cortisol levels spike when the brain perceives a threat to the body (whether that threat is real or imagined) and goes into a “fight or flight” response. During this time, the brain literally “turns off” many functions of the immune system to send energy where it is needed at the moment for survival. What is the point of producing white blood cells when you feel like a lion is chasing you? Run!
Our bodies were not designed to endure chronic spikes in cortisol. We need plenty of time in between for the parasympathetic nervous system (the calming part of the nervous system) to do its job of replenishment and healing. Our bodies were NOT created to live in a constant state of stress or even experience “fight or flight” responses several times per day. This is why chronic has been linked to a wide range of diseases, including breast cancer. A Stanford University study found that 65% of advanced breast cancer patients had either consistently high or abnormally fluctuating cortisol levels. As expected, those with high cortisol levels also had fewer natural killer (NK) cells to ward off cancer.
One significant change that occurs when a person suffers from chronic stress is too much adrenaline and cortisol in the system. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This is caused when the body is in “fight or flight” mode (or the stress response) as described above.
In stress response mode, the body pushes out cortisol and adrenaline at a very high rate. It will divert blood flow and energy from regulation processes like digestion and towards the extremities. This redirection of energy makes sense if you actually need to run from that wild animal. However, staying in the stress response over the long term is one of
the main factors for developing chronic diseases, including breast cancer.
In addition to chronic diseases, adrenals are also the production center for estrogen and progesterone. Too much estrogen and not enough progesterone could lead to estrogen dominance which could cause abnormal menstrual periods, heavy cramping, and fertility problems.
Action: After dinner, take Adrenal Calm to calm down your adrenals and rejuvenate your adrenal health.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and is converted from the serotonin that is produced in the intestines. (Another reason to have a healthy gut) Melatonin is found in the mitochondria and other parts of cells. This hormone plays a huge role in immune function as well as the regulation of inflammatory mechanisms. Melatonin’s main function is as the regulator of the body’s “internal clock,” also called the “circadian rhythm”. Various factors may cause melatonin levels to become low, such as inadequate dietary intake of its precursors (tryptophan for example), normal aging, insufficient exposure to natural light, chronic stress, exposure to blue light and EMF, drugs and alcohol, working night shifts, and certain medications.
Melatonin and Breast Cancer
Research has shown that melatonin is a cytotoxic hormone that puts you and your breast cancer cells to sleep. When melatonin is produced in sufficient amounts, it inhibits the growth of estrogen-positive breast cancer cells.
Dr. Blask found that “nighttime melatonin is a relevant anticancer signal to human breast cancers. Ninety percent of human breast cancers have specific receptors for this signal.” Dr. Blask has dedicated 35+ years to understanding the mechanisms by which the central circadian system of the brain regulates human breast cancer growth and metabolism via the nighttime circadian production of the pineal gland hormone melatonin.
Dig into the thousands of his research articles on Pub Med to learn more about his research. Another great way to learn about the relationship between breast cancer and melatonin is through this brilliant presentation, which references many of Dr. Blask’s articles, titled “High Dose Melatonin Therapy – An Ideal Adjuvant Anti-Cancer Therapy.”
Action: The types of melatonin that I suggest:
- Melatonin Max: Take when you need high-dose melatonin. Studies have shown that high-dose melatonin can be very beneficial for longevity as well as supporting the healing of various cancers. Based on the current research 180 mg of melatonin ( or more) can be taken at bedtime or divided up in doses throughout the day.
- Melatonin – Slow Release: For those who want to stick to lower dosing. this slow release may support sleep and stimulate anti-cancer immune cells.
Don’t accidentally decrease your melatonin production.
Is brushing your teeth, scrolling through your phone a bit, and then putting it on the charger next to your bed a familiar bedtime routine? It seems harmless and has become relatively standard these days. However, it can be a big reason why you are not sleeping well and producing less melatonin needed to stay healthy.
Some toothpaste, especially ones with fluoride in them give a warning on the back: Harmful if swallowed. Call the poison control center if swallowed. Your mouth is extremely rich in capillaries that lead straight into your bloodstream. Fluoride has been shown to calcify the pineal gland which is associated with lower melatonin production. Of course, you should still brush your teeth! Just do so with toothpaste that is natural and does not contain fluoride.
And now for the rectangular device that we rely on for entertainment, work, the weather, socialization, feeling good about ourselves, feeling bad about ourselves, reading, watching videos, alarm clocks, music – I could go on forever! These little computers are working hard, and so are you. Both need rest and time away from each other. EMFs (electromagnetic fields) and blue lights from cell phones and other wireless devices suppress melatonin production.
Studies show exposure to EMFs from cell phones significantly reduces the effect of melatonin on breast cancer cells. Therefore, put your phone in a different room while sleeping and when you do not actually need it during the day. Make it a habit to put it on Airplane mode when not in use.
I also advise putting your phone to sleep at least an hour before you go to sleep. The bullfight emitted from your electronic devices, including your TV, will seriously affect your melatonin production. Taking a bath, reading a book, meditating, light stretching, and sipping on herbal tea are all soothing ways to prepare for a wonderful night’s rest.
Action: Set yourself up for success! Use natural toothpaste, take melatonin, and block out the world with the Manta Sleep Eye Mask.
Make this your year to sleep! Yes, it truly will be one of the most productive things you can do. Sleeping better will help you accomplish all the other goals you set. Sleep fuels your day and your health. Let’s all work to prioritize it – together. Speaking of together – make sure to join the Breast Cancer Conqueror Facebook group: Wellness Warriors! This is a community of women whose goal is to be well and stay well.