Ya want more on melatonin? You just hit the jackpot!
Why should we be interested in this stuff? First of all, melatonin used with chemo versus chemo alone more than doubled the survival time of human cancer patients. Big effect here folks. Secondly, melatonin decreased the side effects related to chemotherapy. These included low platelet counts, irritations of the lining of the mouth (stomatitis), nervous system injury (neurotoxicity), and heart toxicity (cardiotoxicity). Here is the abstract.
Now, don’t go away mad, because there is more. Melatonin helps overcome weight loss due to cancer (cancer cachexia) in advanced cancer patients, with no change in how much food they are eating. As if this were not enough, a study looked at over 600 cancer patients with a variety of solid-tissue tumors received melatonin. The 1 year survival time of the group that took melatonin was more than a third greater than those that did not.
Melatonin was the topic of a medical conference which discussed the ability of melatonin to cause some cancer cells to not only die off directly, but go back to being healthy body cells, and decrease cancer spread (metastasis). To boot, melatonin is an immune stimulator.
Anyway, lots of promising stuff here. One of the points made at the NIH conference mentioned was that this information has been around for years, but for some mysterious reason has not made it into the medical or veterinary knowledge pool. As I pointed out in the last post, I think the obvious reason is that you can’t patent it, which means no pharmaceutical company marketing for sales…but we’ll go over that in some future post.
Anyway, here’s the skinny on side effects and whatnot… Don’t give your dog melatonin during the daytime, it messes up the circadian rhythm and causes headaches. Any supplement given by mouth has potential for digestive upset (vomiting or nausea). If your dog has any immune mediated disease (like some types of underactive thryoid problems, dry eye, lupus, pemphigus, allergies, and so on), avoid it. Don’t give it to your dog if he or she is on calcium channel blockers (some types of heart and blood pressure meds), or is on fluoxetine (Prozac). Diabetic dogs may need less insulin on melatonin. If your dog has diabetes, begin melatonin only with your vet’s close supervision and instruction, otherwise skip melatonin. If your dog is an epileptic, I would avoid melatonin as well.
There are statements suggesting melatonin should not be used with leukemia or lymphoma patients circulating around. I have tried to find some actual evidence for these (a paper, case report, anything real) but to no avail. Any input from the readers? Same thing with this idea that it can cause retinal injury- appears to be speculation, but I am open to any documented, real evidence.
Doses vary. For early dog cancer patients, use about 1-2 mg per 40 lbs body weight, once a day, given at night. For advanced dog cancer patients, use about 5 mg per 40 lbs. Give with food.
There are ways to help increase your dog’s natural melatonin levels that don’t cost a cent. Make sure your loved dog sleeps in total darkness, 10 hours daily. No TV glare, no computer monitor, no nighlight. If you are doing home cooking, give melatonin-rich food. The highest is brown rice and oats, but carbs are not good calorie sources for dogs with cancer. Try some fresh sage, lots of naturally occurring melatonin in sage leaf. Keep your dog away from high voltage, as electric fields cause melatonin levels to drop. Meditate with your dog. My friend Jim Jacobson wrote a book on it. Meditation increases melatonin levels.
Best to all,