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Thread: Recent study on Melatonin and Scoliosis

  1. #1
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    Recent study on Melatonin and Scoliosis

    March 5, 2009 - Serum melatonin levels in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis prediction and prevention for curve progression – a prospective study

    From their Abstract:
    "These findings suggest that melatonin deficiency plays a role in the prognosis of idiopathic scoliosis. Therefore, melatonin supplements may prevent the progression of scoliosis, especially in mild cases with less than a 35 degree curve."

    Research on Melatonin levels and curve progression are mixed. Some find a connection, others don't. The scientists in this study collected very precise measurements in an attempt to find a pattern. Instead of testing Melatonin once or twice a day they tested it every 3 hours for a full 24 hours. Instead of testing once they did this yearly for up to 6 years. Sure enough they got a much clearer picture. In their sample all children with normal Melatonin levels and curves less than 35 degrees did not experience curve progression. All children with low Melatonin levels who took Melatonin supplements and had curves less than 35 degrees did not experience curve progression. 2 children in their control group who had low Melatonin and did not take supplements experienced rapid curve progression. Their study suggests that if a child has normal Melatonin or even low levels and takes supplements AND does not already have a large curve they should be in good shape. I hope someone tries to replicate their study but this one took 6 years and I can't wait around to find out.

    In the meantime the easiest way to increase natural Melatonin production is to "black out" your child's room. Eliminate nightlights, hall lights and all light that enters through windows. Even the smallest amount of light from an LCD will disrupt Melatonin production.

    Here is an easy to read and understand article on light and Melatonin production. There are a lot of health and science articles on this but this one gets right to the point.
    "The pineal gland needs darkness to produce the melatonin that tells your body it's time to sleep. Any light you receive at night can confuse your pineal gland and decrease your body's production of melatonin."

    Another thing that may potentially boost natural Melatonin production is fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids).

    Dietary deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids disturbs Melatonin rhythm in Syrian Hamsters

    Researchers found that Hamsters who were fed low levels of Omega 3 oils produced half as much peak Melatonin. Whether this translates to humans I don't know. I doubt these scientists were worried about optimal Hamster health. This was probably an inexpensive study designed to see if a human study was worth exploring.

    So how do Americans stack up compared to Omega 3 deficient Hamsters? Sadly we are in the same boat.

    University Of Maryland Medical Center article on Omega 3s

    "A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 - 4 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States."

    Here is one last thing you may already know. Melatonin is a Calmodulin eater and Calmodulin appears to be what triggers curve progression. This is from the latest Japanese study, "Melatonin binds to calmodulin with high affinity, thus acting as its antagonist. The inverse relationship between calmodulin and melatonin may prove important in considering the pathogenesis of idiopathic scoliosis."

    If you haven't already seen it here is another article on this phenomenon
    Platelet Calmodulin Levels in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS): A Predictor of Curve Progression and Severity?
    "It appears that increasing platelet calmodulin levels correlate closely with curve progression and severity"

    It appears that Melatonin might be a Scoliotic child's best friend. Supplements increase Melatonin levels 10 to 100 times normal levels. I'm not qualified to know if longterm use would be safe in children but as a nonscientist that doesn't sound healthy. Thankfully there are a few easy things any parent can do to increase their child's natural Melatonin production.
    Last edited by Dingo; 03-31-2009 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    March 5, 2009? Come on Dingo, tomorrow is April, dont you have any recent research on this you can link too?

    I suppose I'll start believing it when I see people posting in the thread "How did you get scoliosis" stories about their nite-lights.

    Seriously, interesting post and well laid out. I appreciate the links provided.
    I'm looking forward to hearing PNUTTRO's take on this.

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    glad you liked it

    Concerned Dad

    Glad you liked it.

    I don't want to be confusing on this. It isn't that low levels of Melatonin actually cause Scoliosis. It appears something further upstream in Melatonin Signaling is the root of the problem. But Melatonin may help treat the symptoms, i.e. curve progression.

    By comparison Statins may treat Heart Disease but a lack of Statins isn't what causes heart disease in the first place. Statins are just medicine to treat a disease. Making sure a child has optimal levels of Melatonin is roughly the same thing.

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    Exclamation Finding desperate alternatives through nutrition/environment

    Hey:
    Dingo
    Question: Who has scoliosis that makes you interested in this research???

    Regarding your posted articles: I would be interested if genetic studies would show which person had the gene possible implicated in progression---in the references cited. Another important point: studies possibly suggest never really prove.

    Looks like you are trying to control scoliosis with nutrition and other alternatives by researching articles. Lots of luck. Not sure it's so simple. Making dietary recommendations, not backed up by evidence based science, can have unintended negative consequences. What if it makes things worse???? ---or causes another disorder. Not until we have many studies using mega analysis can one tentatively make recommendations.

    Ulcer disease was thought to be caused by stress and a milk based diet was recommended. The person with ulcers was given a "sippy" diet which meant sipping cream every few hours. Evidence based science found a bacterium(H-Pylori, a WHO class 1 carcinogen) as the cause of ulcer disease and that diary products could be counterproductive. Antibiotics are now the gold standard.

    For diverticulosis a pureed diet used to be recommended because, it was thought, seeds, nuts etc got caught in those pouches. Good studies have shown the opposite: persons who ate nuts, seeds has much less diverticulitis.

    Regarding melatonin and fish oils influencing scoliosis:

    My mother was born in Russia and lived her teen years(Estonia) where there was practically very little sun light a good portion of the year --so close to the Arctic circle-- little electricity, low light kerosene lamps. Her diet was almost entirely fish. Guess what? She has progressing scoliosis her whole life and is quite twisted at 92. My sister, brother, girl maternal cousin and I(worse case) have scoliosis. My fish loving paternal cousin's daughter had scoliosis surgery.
    We all grew up going to bed early in dark rooms with no night lights, no TV, and much less ambient light than children these days.


    Wished it were so simple.
    Last edited by Karen Ocker; 03-31-2009 at 03:48 PM.
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  5. #5
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    Hi Karen

    Who has scoliosis that makes you interested in this research???
    My 5 year old son was diagnosed with a 12 degree curve 4 or 5 months ago.

    Making dietary recommendations, not backed up by evidence based science, can have unintended negative consequences. What if it makes things worse????
    While that is certainly possible I doubt that sleeping in a dark room or consuming a healthy amount of fish or fish oil is dangerous. Doctors would encourage any child to do those things whether they had Scoliosis or not. What evidence do you have that sleeping in a bright room and not consuming fish is healthier for children with Scoliosis? If there is no evidence that these are unhealthy I can't think of a good reason to treat children with Scoliosis differently.

    My mother was born in Russia and lived her teen years(Estonia) where there was practically very little sun light a good portion of the year --so close to the Arctic circle-- little electricity, low light kerosene lamps. Her diet was almost entirely fish. Guess what? She has progressing scoliosis her whole life and is quite twisted at 92.
    Melatonin production depends on light during the daytime as well as darkness at night. Some studies have found that living at a high latitude is associated with Scoliosis. It's certainly possible that reduced sunlight may play a part in that.
    Last edited by Dingo; 03-31-2009 at 05:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dingo View Post
    Some studies have found that living at a high latitude is associated with increased curve progression.
    Come on Dingo, you're letting me down. Where is the hyper link to go along with "Some Studies".

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    Hyperlink ACTIVATED!

    From the link in my last post.

    "Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis prevalence has also been reported to be different in various latitudes and demonstrates higher values in northern countries. A study on epidemiological reports from the literature was conducted to investigate a possible association between prevalence of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and age at menarche among normal girls in various geographic latitudes. An attempt is also made to implicate a possible role of melatonin in the above association."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dingo View Post
    Another thing that may potentially boost natural Melatonin production is fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids).

    Dietary deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids disturbs Melatonin rhythm in Syrian Hamsters

    Researchers found that Hamsters who were fed low levels of Omega 3 oils produced half as much peak Melatonin.
    By the way, Syrian hamsters have no limit for alcohol...

    "Researchers caution, however, that if we humans are congenitally inclined to drink, we are designed to do so only in moderation. We are not, in other words, Syrian hamsters, the popular pet rodents that also are a favorite of alcohol researchers. Syrian hamsters are the Andy Capp of the animal kingdom. “They’ll drink alcohol whenever offered the option,” said Howard B. Moss, associate director for clinical and translational research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Md. “You give them a bottle of water and a bottle of alcohol, they’ll always choose the alcohol over the water.”

    Researchers have traced this avidity to the hamster’s natural habits. The animals gather fruit all summer and save it for later by burying it underground, where the fruit ferments. “That’s how the hamsters find their cache of last summer’s goodies when it’s the middle of winter,” Dr. Moss said. “They’ve developed a preference for the taste and smell of fruit that’s turned.” They’ve also developed the necessary equipment to metabolize high doses of alcohol. “A hamster’s liver is five times the size of a human liver in comparison to the other abdominal organs,” Dr. Moss said. “It’s all liver in there.”


    They are mostly liver and 100% cute.
    Last edited by Pooka1; 03-31-2009 at 10:00 PM.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

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    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

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    Things are starting to get clearer

  10. #10
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    Exactly!

    No limit.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

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    I had no idea!

    I had no idea that Hamsters were such party animals.

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    Melatonin and Scoliosis

    Karen Ocker

    Maybe I didn't do the best job explaining the research. The Japanese aren't suggesting that low Melatonin causes Scoliosis. The average child with low Melatonin won't have Scoliosis. But among children with the dysfunction that causes Scoliosis low Melatonin spells trouble. Many children with Scoliosis may not produce enough Melatonin in the best of circumstances. According to the researchers involved in this study Melatonin supplements eliminated the risk of curve progression for these children.

    As a practical matter I would think that maximizing natural Melatonin production is a good idea. This may not be enough for all children but it may work for a lot of kids, especially those with small curves.
    Last edited by Dingo; 04-01-2009 at 02:05 AM.

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    [QUOTE=Dingo;73944]March 5, 2009 - Serum melatonin levels in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis prediction and prevention for curve progression a prospective study

    I read this paper this morning. I am not convinced of their interpretation of the results.

    There were 18 patients with low melatonin (How low is low? They only show data from one patient over the course of the study.)
    2 untreated
    9 treated with melatonin
    7 treated with melatonin and bracing

    Results:
    2/2 untreated progressed
    1/9 with melatonin progressed
    3/7 with melatonin and bracing progressed.

    compared to the control group of 22 patients with normal melatonin.
    1/6 untreated progressed--That's as good as the treatment group above. . .
    5/10 braced progressed

    Combining melatonin normal and melatonin treated, 10/32 (31% progressed)
    Low melatonin and no treatment is too small of a group to be informative. It is just 2 flips of a coin.

    It looks more like a study that says bracing doesn't work.

    If melatonin is so important why are there more patients with normal melatonin than with low melatonin (22 vs 18)? One would think that those would be hard to come by.

    There is a lot of conflicting ideas about how important melatonin is in scoliosis. Here is a fair review of the literature.

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    A measurable standard has been set

    PNUTTRO

    The Japanese study finally set a measurable standard that can be easily checked.

    All children with curves less than 35 degrees who had normal melatonin or "supplemented" melatonin did not suffer progressive Scoliosis.

    If that's the benchmark scientists should give Melatonin to 100 children with mild Scoliosis for a year or two and see how many progress.

    It's an obvious test and perhaps in 2 or 3 years we'll have an answer. But in the meantime it's "lights out" at my house.

    If increased Melatonin and/or Melatonin supplementation has an impact on curve progression a treatment for Scoliosis may be right around the corner. The Scoliosis blood test will be out in 2009/2010. A simple blood test given several times a year will let doctors know when Calmodulin levels are spiking. Melatonin (assuming it helps) combined with effective bracing should improve outcomes dramatically.

    Right now doctors are walking around blind with nothing to guide them. They hand a child a brace, hope that it works, hope that the child uses it and tell the patient to come back in 6 months for an x-ray. If it doesn't work they never know for sure what went wrong.
    Last edited by Dingo; 04-01-2009 at 10:52 PM.

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    Question Geographic distribution

    I haven't seen anything to suggest--a good study- or better- a meta analysis suggesting scoliosis is more common in one latitude than another. I read that the distribution was pretty much evenly distributed and affected 3% of the population one way or another.

    Another thought:
    Are we talking about congenital, juvenile or the commoner idiopathic which starts pre-adolescent. There is also de-novo scoliosis in adults. In areas of the world where polio still exists there is scoliosis associated with that.

    As an aside; I hope you do not submit your little one with scoliosis to "chiropractic care". There are lawsuits in Canada where children have been harmed by chiro manipulation. The pediatricians there recommend against it.
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

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