Melonoma Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 2145 words and 9 pages.


Set deep in our brains is a tiny gland called the pineal gland. This tiny gland is in
charge of the endocrine system, the glandular system that controls most of our bodily
functions. The pineal runs our Œbody clocks¹, and it produces melatonin; the hormone
that may prove to be the biggest medical discovery since penicilin, and the key to
controlling the aging process. The pineal gland controls such functions as our sleeping
cycle and the change of body temperature that we undergo with the changing seasons. It
tells animals when to migrate north and south, and when to grow or shed heavy coats. By
slowing down and speeding up their metabolisms, it tells them when to fatten up for
hibernation, and when to wake up from hibernation in the spring.

Melatonin is the hormone that controls not only when we feel sleepy, but the rate at which
we age, when we go through puberty, and how well our immune systems fend off diseases.
Being set in the middle of our brains, the pineal gland has no direct access to sunlight.
Our eyes send it a message of how much sunlight they see, and when it¹s dark. The
sunlight prohibits the gland from producing melatonin, so at night, when there¹s no sun,
the sleep-inducing hormone is released into our bodies. Because of the pineal gland and
melatonin, humans have known to sleep at night and wake during the day since long before
the age of alarm clocks.

Humans don¹t produce melatonin right from birth; it is transfered in utero to babies
through the placenta. For their first few days of life, babies still have to receive it
from breast milk. Our levels of melatonin peak during childhood, then decrease at the
beginning of puberty, so that other hormones can take control of our bodies. As we get
older, the amount of melatonin we produce continues to decrease until at age 60, we
produce about half as much as we did at age 20. With the rapid decrease from about age 50
on, the effects of old age quickly become more visible and physically evident. With what
scientists have recently discovered, we may very soon be able to harness melatonin to slow
down aging, fend off disease, and keep us feeling generally healthy and energetic; not to
mention the things melatonin can do for us right now like curing insomnia and regulating
sleeping patterns, eliminating the effects of jet-lag, and relieving every day stress.

Melatonin is known as the ³regulator of regulators², because it sends out the messages
that control the amounts of all the different hormones in our bodies. It is a balance
among our different hormones that keeps us healthy, and as we age, our different hormone
levels can become unbalanced, which results in aging.

Everything our bodies do requires energy, from running a mile to sitting still and just
breathing. Every cell in our bodies requires at least some energy to function. Within all
of our cells are microscopic structures called mitochondria. Mitochondria are considered
the powerhouses of the cells, because they convert energy into ATP; the substance which
fuels most every cell in our body. In order to create ATP, we need to take in and Œburn¹
oxygen. As we age, our mitochondria age, and as our mitochondria age, their production of
ATP slows, which results in the buildup of excess oxygen. This buildup results in the
oxidization, (or rusting) of the cells and their different components. This is why when
we¹re older, we don¹t have as much energy as when we¹re young. Here¹s where melatonin
steps in. Melatonin metabolizes the thyroid hormone (which supplies energy to the
mitochondria, among other cell organelles) so that it carries more energy. When the
mitochondria receive more power from the thyroid hormone, they can produce more ATP,
giving more energy to every cell in our bodies, and they use up all of the oxygen that we
take in, so that our cells don¹t begin to oxidize.

There are mitochondria in the cells of the pineal gland, which give it the power to
produce and secrete melatonin. Pineal function declines as its cells¹ mitochondria
provide it with less ATP, and instead start to produce calcium salt, which calcifies the
gland. Calcification is the hardening of the gland (with calcium deposits) which hinders
its performance. Once the pineal gland begins to function less perfectly, the production
of energy for the entire body is thrown off. Therefore, with age comes less energy, which
leads to less melatonin, which leads to less energy and more leftover oxygen, which causes
aging. To stop this vicious cycle from beginning, one must only take enough of a dose of
melatonin to keep the levels of all the involved hormones where they are when we are

That only touches on the surface of what regulated melatonin levels can achieve. The
calcification that adversely affects the pineal gland happens elsewhere in the body as the
mitochondria in the various types of cells slow down. For example, calcium deposits in the
blood vessels leads to hardening of the arteries, which can eventually lead to a stroke or
heart attack. These same kinds of calcium deposits are also found in such organs as the
heart and brain, and can lead to other complications. The reason that children aren¹t
afflicted with these conditions is that levels of melatonin in the human body are at their
peak during our childhood.

To sum up, when the pineal can no longer do its job, it results in the breakdown of
mitochondria throughout the body, the powerhouses of the cells that regulate energy. When
the mitochondria break down, this causes a chain reaction throughout the body that leads
to the eventual collapse of all other organ systems. This collapse is what defines aging
to us, and melatonin is the tool we can use to prevent it, or at least put it off a while

It is also being said that melatonin is an effective weapon against disease, and can
strengthen our immune systems. Part of this is simply logical reasoning when the effects
of melatonin on aging are taken into consideration. It is a decline in the functions of
our vital organs that leads to many of the diseases known to man. Therefore, when the
aging of our individual organs is hindered, as described in the first part of this paper,
the diseases that often accompany that aging will no longer be able to do so. Melatonin
will also effect various afflictions in the same way as it would effect atherosclerosis
Continues for 5 more pages >>

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