Written By: Director of Nutrition for Nava Health Laura Kelly, MA, MS, CNS, LDN
The Surprising Effects of Melatonin for Viral Infections – Melatonin Benefits
Looking for ways to stay healthy while you are staying at home? Feeding your body with the right foods is one of the best ways to do just that.
If you are looking for more ways to improve your health during these unprecedented times, we also offer video and phone appointments with our nutrition team and medical practitioners.
Call us at 1-800-762-6282 to schedule an appointment to find out other ways Nava can support you in these unprecedented times.
Melatonin May Reduce Inflammation Caused by Viral Infections
Melatonin is best known for its ability to regulate sleep and circadian rhythms. People often take it for insomnia or jet lag. However, there is new, exciting research demonstrating melatonin’s role in radically reducing the symptoms of coronavirus, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. How does melatonin do this? Let’s take a quick look at what happens during a viral infection.
First, our immune system activates a complicated cascade of events that starts the inflammatory process. This process can help stop viruses and bacteria, which is good! Symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea and fever are all a part of the normal inflammatory process that fights and kills invaders. When you have these symptoms, your body is doing the right thing!
However, our immune system can launch such a strong attack that it creates a huge storm inside our body that can actually hurt us more than it helps. A protein called NLRP3 inflammasome is largely responsible for triggering this storm and in the case of coronavirus, this can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and lung damage.
So how does this relate to melatonin? Melatonin has been found to inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasomes! Yup that means it may help stop the storm! And that may mean milder symptoms and less need for medical intervention(s).
And there’s more! As we age, our levels of melatonin diminish significantly. Young children have very high melatonin levels, compared to adults. In fact children may have ten times more melatonin than their grandparents. The research suggests this could be one reason why young children have very mild coronavirus symptoms.
How to Increase Melatonin – Melatonin Supplements and Recipes
Fortunately, melatonin is readily available and considered safe for the general population. We have added melatonin to our list of immune supportive supplements here at Nava and recommend taking 1-3 mg at night (remember it can make you sleepy). Get Nava’s Melatonin Supplement.
Melatonin Rich Foods
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Simple Melatonin Rich Recipe
Mushroom Risotto with Toasted Pistachios
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound mixed mushrooms (i.e. portabello, shiitake, brown)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
- 2 tablespoons pistachios
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan (such as Go Veggie)
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and chop the mushrooms no bigger than what will comfortably fit on a spoon. Heat a large frying pan to medium and add a tablespoon of olive oil, fry half of the mushrooms until soft and browning. Remove to a plate and repeat with the other half.
Meanwhile, put the stock in a small pot and warm to just below a simmer. In a heavy pot heat the last tablespoon of olive oil and sweat shallots until soft. Add rice and toast for 3 minutes. Add wine and turn heat to medium. Cook until wine has almost entirely evaporated, stirring regularly. Stir in mushrooms and enough stock to just cover the rice along with a big pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook risotto, adding stock as it becomes evaporated until it is just starting to lose its bite. Slow down the stock letting the last become absorbed.
While your rice is cooking, put the pistachios into a frying pan over medium low heat and toast gently. They should just start to get fragrant. Roughly chop and set aside.
Once the risotto is soft enough, stir in butter, cheese and parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve each bowl topped with pistachios and truffle oil.
Melatonin Information and Resources: