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The Mysterious Pineal Gland

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The Mysterious Pineal Gland

416px-Shiva Musée Guimet 22971When the pineal is stimulated and functioning optimally, it helps us to sleep and relax, improves the immune system, evokes a natural state of euphoria and higher states of intellect, and helps alleviate depression and the ageing process.

The size of a pea, the pineal gland lies immediately beneath the hypothalamus in a tiny cave at the centre of the brain. As the last endocrine gland discovered, it was once shrouded in myth, superstition and metaphysical theories. However, as life coach and applied kinesiologist Deborah K Bates explains, the pineal gland holds the key to sustainable health, mood, energy and self-esteem.

A supernatural gland

Philosophers and spiritual adepts have long contemplated the function of the pineal. The ancient Greeks believed it was our connection to the Realms of Thought, while French philosopher Renee Descartes referred to it as “the seat of the human soul”. Ancient Greek physician Galen of Pergamum (131-201AD) said the pineal was a regulator of thought, and that the soul was anchored there.

Most mystical traditions and esoteric schools have thought this area, in the very centre of the brain, to be the connecting link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Many consider it a powerful source of ethereal energy initiating supernatural powers. Associated with the crown chakra, the hormones released by this gland play a part in the stimulation of the higher-mind and the development of intellectual pursuits. It is said toxins in this gland indicate the spirit is weak due to lack of will combined with an invasion of the psyche.

“Keep the pineal gland operating and you won’t grow old – you will always be young”.

Function

On a physiological level, the pineal gland is activated by light and works in harmony with the hypothalamus gland directing the body’s thirst, hunger, sexual desire and biological clock, which determines how we age. As famous psychic Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) once said: “Keep the pineal gland operating and you won’t grow old – you will always be young”.

Producing the hormone melatonin (a brain chemical that regulates our sleep rhythms) and trace amounts of the psychedelic chemical dimethyltryptamine similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, the pineal gland control sleep-wake rhythms, signals the reproductive system to set a child’s birth in motion, and moderates the states of euphoria and depression.

When the pineal is stimulated and functioning optimally, it helps us to sleep and relax, improves the immune system, evokes a natural state of euphoria and higher states of intellect (possibly even visions), and helps alleviate depression and the ageing process.

Light deprivation and melatonin

An imbalance of melatonin interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms (day/night cycle) and results in light deprivation disorders such as depression, oversleeping, weight gain, fatigue and sadness. Our lifestyles can contribute to a reduction of melatonin. Most of us spend the majority of our day working indoors with little natural light, rush home to spend more time indoors to read, watch television, use the computer, or listen to music. While these are great activities for relaxation, they can deprive us of adequate light to produce healthy melatonin levels.

The following symptoms indicate light melatonin deprivation:

  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Reduced libido
  • Social withdrawal
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain

 Other functions

Along with the hypothalamus, the pineal gland forms part of the brain’s communication centre, including visual, auditory, speech and learning functions. Imbalanced function can lead to dyslexia, stuttering, forgetfulness and inability to think clearly.

Other pineal secretions stimulate activity in the adrenal glands (the stress response glands that sit on top of the kidneys). The pineal helps stimulate the adrenals to reabsorb sodium and eliminate potassium. The pineal secretions also help the adrenals to control fear.

The pineal also takes up excess iodine as a backup for the thyroid gland, an important energy and hormonal regulator in the throat.

Symptoms of an underactive pineal

Environmental stressors affect pineal function, affecting overall body alertness, temperature levels and hormone operation. Stressors that affect pineal function include unusual light and dark patterns, radiation, magnetic fields, nutritional imbalances such as excessive alcohol and caffeine, temperature swings, and overall daily stress patterns.

Symptoms present in the following:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Hypochondria
  • Mood swings
  • Excess worry
  • Irrational fear
  • Seasonal affective syndrome
  • >Headaches
  • Irregular sleeping
  • Right eye problems
  • Paranoia or fanaticism
  • Hypertension
  • Epilepsy
  • Sodium or potassium imbalance
  • Nightmares/vivid dreams
  • Dyslexia
  • Stuttering
  • Inability to think clearly or be in present moment

Natural corrective measures

Balancing the Pineal Gland

  • Stress management techniques such as meditation and relaxation
  • Daily doses of natural light
  • Massaging the third eye area, located in the slight indent between the eyes on the forehead. Massage upward and outward in a half-inch radius for 30 seconds.
  • Eating foods high in potassium such as brown rice, avocado, broccoli and banana
  • Taking regular breaks from computers, televisions and artificial lighting
  • Massaging pressure points in feet – pad area of the big toes
  • Massaging pressure points in hands – pad area of thumbs
  • Avoiding bright light at night, for example, watching TV in bed
  • Reducing exposure to electromagnetic fields, such as electric blankets
  • Sleeping in complete darkness so your body produces more melatonin. For instance, your bedside clock might emit too much light.
  • Avoiding use of melatonin-lowering substances such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol
  • Consuming foods high in melatonin or the melatonin precursor tryptophan, such as oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, barley, Japanese radish, spirulina, soy, cottage cheese, chicken meat/liver, turkey, pepitas, almonds and peanuts.
 Tratak meditation, also known as candle gazing, can stimulate the pineal gland and help produce higher levels of melatonin. As a daily practice, light a candle and use the candle flame to focus the eyes.

Alternate nostril breathing is simple technique for balancing the pineal. Use the thumb on your right hand to close your right nostril as you breathe in through your left nostril. Then, use your ring finger on your right hand to close your left nostril as you breathe out through the open right nostril. Breathe in through the right nostril and out through the left. Breathe in through the left and out through the right.

Read more about the Pineal Gland in Your Personal Tuning Fork the endocrine system.

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