You may not have given much thought to your pineal gland, but this tiny gland has had a big impact on you. This pea-sized gland sits deep in the middle of your brain between the left and right hemispheres. Pinea is the Latin word for pine cone. The pineal gland is shaped like a tiny pine cone.
Our goal: In this post (part 1) we will look at the functions of the pineal gland and in the next post (part 2) we will look at ways to improve its function.
What is the pineal gland?
One of the main jobs of the pineal gland is to release melatonin to direct circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. It also impacts hormone balance and the immune system.
“As a conductor of the endocrine system, the pineal gland controls hormone signals to all organs. It plays a dual neural-endocrine role with functions spanning into all bodily systems. Evidence suggests the pineal gland is the master conductor of the physiology of the brain and body.”
It has also been called our “third eye” as it contains rod-like cells that are very similar to those in the eye and it is connected to the eyes by a pathway to allow it to detect light and release melatonin. In a healthy system, melatonin rises and falls with the rising and setting of the sun. The pineal gland detects light. As you are exposed to more sun throughout the day, melatonin decreases. Melatonin affects blood pressure, body temperature and hormone levels.
As the master endocrine gland, the pineal gland oversees nearly every bodily process from growth & development to body temperature, blood pressure, metabolism, weight gain, to fertility and reproduction. So, you see how important the correct functioning of this pea-sized gland really is.
As I have gotten older I have struggled with sleep issues. I’ve heard many of my friends (who are of a similar vintage) admit they also have problems sleeping – either falling asleep or staying asleep. I began to wonder if the pineal gland could be playing a role in this. As I researched the issue, I learned that the pineal gland can become ‘calcified’ thereby reducing its ability to deliver melatonin to the system.
Some reports indicate that drinking water with fluoride can create calcifications, but this has not been directly proven and is somewhat controversial. But there are several ways to combat calcification of the pineal gland and in our next post (part 2) we will look at those ways.
There are other mystical elements to our “third eye”. René Descartes described the pineal gland as a meeting point between body and soul. Throughout recorded human history, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, pinecones have served as a symbolic representation of Human Enlightenment. We see the pinecone used symbolically in the Catholic church.