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Dr. De La Flor
House Calls
Dear Dr. De La Flor,
A neighbor of mine told me she takes melatonin supplements daily.
Is it necessary? Does it work? Any advice?


20.08.2013 -

 Dear Paula,

Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a minuscule gland located in a remote place in the brain.  It helps control our sleep/wake cycles (Circadian rhythms) and indirectly our mood and alert levels.  A tiny amount of it can be found in foods such as meat, grains, fruit, and vegetables.  Melatonin isnt necessary in most cases as a sleeping aid.  First things first, and that entails adequate rest, a daily dosage of physical activity, proper timing of food and drinks and a reasonable exposure to sunlight.

Your body has its own internal clock that controls your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours.  In part, our body clock controls how much melatonin your body manufactures.  Normally, it begins to rise in the mid to late evening, remains high at night, and then drop in the early morning hours.  Natural levels slowly drop with age.  Some older adults make very small amounts of it or none at all.

Sunlight deeply affects how much melatonin our body fabricates.  During the shorter days of the winter months, our body may produce melatonin either earlier or later in the day than usual.  This change can lead to symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or winter depression.

In most cases, melatonin supplements are safe.  Melatonin can have side effects though (sleepiness, lower body temperature, vivid dreams, morning grogginess, blood pressure).  But be sure to talk with your doctor about taking them.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about your real need of melatonin.  Much can be done naturally managing controllable nutritional as well as lifestyle factors.

Best wishes and have a good nights sleep tonight!


Dear Doctor De La Flor,

My mother was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Her mood is now very low and her loneliness really concerns me. Any advice?




Dear Jeremy,

Once you practice family medicine for a little while, you realize how unarmed and under-equipped we are when facing existential issues.

Ive seen over the years patients with contagious inner peace and bliss on their deathbed and others entering a vicious cycle of hopelessness, fear and ineffable depression.

Your preoccupation is natural, your attitude commendable.  Medication aids but doesnt alleviate certain natural uncertainty and mixed inner thoughts.  Inundating your Mom with constant displays of affection and care as well as prayer are, in my opinion the best medications available.  No one, in years of profession, can show me any pill that surpasses the beneficial effects of holding hands, giving an affectionate kiss on the forehead or an honest, deep-rooted, quiet glance of empathy and compassion.

There many opinions on the issue.  Mine is the one my parents taught me at home.  Death, for a Christian is the end of life and the beginning of Life.  Hopefulness should little by little replace feelings of loneliness, fear and desperation.  Stay resilient, supportive and content when facing the thorns and the roses in the days ahead.

The greatest disease in the West today is not tuberculosis or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.  We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.  There are many in the world that are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.  The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty - it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.  There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God. Mother Theresa.



My dad (a retired pharmacist) shared with me more than two decades ago the following quote: From a material point of view, we are worth so little.  The content of a human body is equivalent to as much sugar as there is in two lumps, as much oil as there is in seven bars of soap, as much phosphorus as there is in 2,000 matches, and as much magnesium as it takes to develop one photograph.  In all, the human body, chemically, is worth a little less than $2 'O why should any mortal Spirit be proud?'  But spiritually we are worth more than the universe. Fulton Sheen.



For the next two weeks, lets spend a few minutes pondering how precious and unique we truly are.  Healing follows an inside-out trajectory.  Each one of us is much more than an intricate motorway of nerves, a bunch of pipelines where blood makes its journey, a pump made of muscle pumping gallons of blood.

Who we are; What we do; How we feel; How we give to each other; How we express our talents and also How we fight our weaknesses is a inimitable orchestra of ineffable depth.

We are all called to be trailblazers of our road, roll and mission. Before the day ends, give someone a powerful hug and feel the effect on you and him/her.  Lets touch the non-material, lets feel the eternal stuff that glues it all in us.  Then, and only then, you and I will find new life and Mmaning in our daily journey.  

Lets fill every day this summer with hard toil or adequate rest (if on vacation), with renewed passion and with fun.  Talk to you in a couple weeks.


Dr. De La Flor, licensed G.P. (38/06089) holds certificates in coaching, nutrition and medical exercise from U.C. Berkeley and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). His medical approach is highly influenced by Positive Psychology; an empowering, encompassing way of approaching patients through the study of their strengths and virtues to enable them to thrive and lead fulfilling lives, accept the past, find happiness in the present, and hope for the future.  Call him today at 00-34-697.888.666 to schedule a consultation or a motivational talk in his surgery or in your home/business or while youre on vacation to fully reap the benefits of your time off.

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