Q: Have you heard anything about chronotherapy? Apparently, new researchshows that the time you take a medicine makes a difference in how effective it is. I even heard that proper timing could save your life.
A: Chronotherapy is a fascinating new area of research. It can dramatically improve the way drugs and nutrients act in your body. This approach to medicine adapts itself to the body's internal rhythms. The ancients believed we were ruled by the sun and the moon, and in a sense, we are. We experience fluctuations in our body chemistry hourly, daily, and seasonally. There is a good reason why the risk of heart attacks is 40 percent higher before noon, and asthma attacks occur 100 times more often at night than by day. I believe we can protect ourselves from illness, by listening to our bodies and protecting them at the times they are most vulnerable.
There is a biochemistry behind our internal rhythms. Each morning when you awaken your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, the vessels in your body constrict, and the levels of cortisol--a stress hormone--steadily rise. At night, when you go to sleep, your blood vessels relax and dilate, cortisol levels drop, and histamine (an allergy-causing chemical) rises. Other rhythms are more mysterious: Why do fevers spike at night? Why is depression most common in late afternoon?