Although very tiny, with a size similar to that of a pea located in the center of the brain, the pineal gland greatly affects your health by controlling your circadian rhythm, i.e., the sleep-wake cycle. Historically, ancient civilizations associated the pineal gland with the Third Eye. Ancient Egyptians symbolized it as the Eye of Horus, while the Hindu called it the Third Eye Chakra. More recently, French philosopher René Descartes called it the 'seat of the soul.' He went on to describe it as the unique meeting point between the body and the soul where all 'thoughts are formed.'
Why the pineal gland is called the Third Eye
There are a couple of reasons why the pineal gland is referred to as the Third Eye. Firstly, it contains rod-like cells that are similar to those found in the human eye. In addition, it is connected to the eyes in a way that allows it to detect light and release melatonin.
Functions and benefits of the pineal gland and melatonin
It has long been thought that the main role of the pineal gland is to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, however, science has revealed
that it has a far greater role in which it acts as the master conductor of the brain and body function.
. Sleep and the circadian rhythm
The circadian rhythm is a natural process within the body, through which it regulates the sleep-wake (day-night) cycle. It's a 24-hour cycle that repeats itself indefinitely. The pineal gland controls this cycle by releasing serotonin, the happiness molecule, in the morning then converting it into melatonin at night. Melatonin alerts the brain it is time to sleep.
This process takes place gradually when the levels of melatonin start to rise in the evening, peak at night time, then decline in the morning to prepare for waking. In the meantime, the levels of serotonin peak in the morning and start to decline four hours before the release of melatonin.
It is noted that serotonin is produced in the pineal gland by converting the neurotransmitter tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin is then made into melatonin.
tryptophan -> serotonin -> melatonin
. Reproductive system and sex hormones
A 2014 study that was published on PubMed found that the lack of light stimulus and increase in serum melatonin among blind men and women resulted in fertility problems (1). The pineal gland is also known to affect the release of testosterone in men.
. Melatonin and breast cancer
Melatonin is a very powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps suppress inflammation. It helps protect against cancer, especially sex hormone-driven cancers through triggering cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction) and boosting production of immune substances that can help identify and attack abnormal cells that are carcinogenic.
When the pineal gland receives a signal indicating night time it starts producing melatonin. However, getting exposed to artificial lights at night can give the pineal gland a false signal that it is still morning time leading to the cessation in the production of melatonin. A number of studies have highlighted that a lack in melatonin can increase the risk of breast cancer among women. Moreover, epidemiological studies of nurses, flight attendants and others who work at night have found breast cancer rates 60% above normal, even when other factors such as differences in diet are accounted for (2).
Could melatonin turn out to be the magical potion that keeps us forever young? A study that investigated the effects of melatonin on the skin concluded that naturally produced melatonin within our body, coupled with topically applied melatonin, can be expected to represent one of the most potent anti-oxidative defense systems against UV-induced skin aging. Hurray! (3)
Moreover, other studies have shown that melatonin is twice as strong an antioxidant than vitamin e, and four times stronger than vitamin c, which makes it a great scavenger of the free radicals that can cause premature aging (4).
. Melatonin and menopause
In a very interesting study that ran over the course of six months at the Madonna Del Grazie Health Institute in Rome, Italy, women between the ages of 42 and 62 were given a melatonin supplement or a placebo each night. Amazingly, those who received the daily melatonin supplement regained their menstrual cycles, including women who were post-menopausal.
Other symptoms that are typically associated with menopause such as sleep disorders, hot flushes, fatigue, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and appetite disorders were remarkably reversed or significantly improved.
Furthermore, other symptoms that are related to low melatonin levels and pineal gland calcification include, Alzheimer's Disease, headaches and migraines, autoimmune disease, stroke, insulin resistance, prostate cancer and schizophrenia.
Factors that affect the function of your pineal gland
. Exposure to light
The blue light that comes out of the sun in the morning and enters through your eyes plays a crucial role in stimulating the pineal gland to function properly. As a result, it is important to avoid wearing sunglasses as much as possible. On the other hand, when the pineal gland is exposed to the artificial blue rays that are emitted from electric bulbs, TVs, computers and mobiles at night, it will stop producing melatonin as the light will give it a signal it's still morning time. Some of the things that I find helpful in tackling this issue include: switching computers and mobile phones to night mode during sun sets, avoiding these devices altogether at least two hours before bedtime and finally wearing the orange-colored safety goggles as they work on blocking blue-rays.
Unlike most of your brain, the pineal gland is not protected from the rest of the body by the blood-brain barrier. In fact, the pineal gland receives a tremendous amount of blood flow, second only to the kidneys, which makes it subject to calcification. In the 1990s, British scientist Jennifer Luke discovered high concentrations of fluoride in the pineal glands of older people and found that its fluoride/calcium ratio was higher than the bone (5). Calcification of the pineal gland impairs your sleep, cognitive abilities, perception, reaction time, judgment and performance.
How to minimize exposure to fluoride:
- Avoid toothpastes that contain fluoride.
- Avoid unfiltered tap water.
- Avoid teflon pans as heating them may release teflon (a fluorine compound).
- Try to eat organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible as regular pesticides, which are used on conventional crops leave high fluoride residues.
- Tinned fish and canned food contain fluoride so it's a good idea to minimize their consumption as much as possible.
- According to research, very high concentrations of fluorine were found in tobacco so minimizing exposure and/or consumption should be of a great benefit (6).
. Nutrient deficiencies
To help your pineal gland function properly, you have to make sure you're getting enough nutrition and consuming adequate levels of vitamins A, B6, as well as zinc and selenium.
Supplements that can help decalcify the pineal gland and restore its function
Iodine is one of the important, yet overlooked, minerals that people, particularly women, have to ensure they are not deficient in. Without iodine, the thyroid gland will never be able to function properly and research has shown that women deficient in iodine have higher risks of developing breast cancer.
According to Dr. Mark Sircus:
“Iodine intake immediately increases the excretion of bromide, fluoride, and some heavy metals including mercury and lead. Bromide and fluoride are not removed by any other chelator or detoxifying technique.” (7)
Sea kelp as well as iodine supplements are good sources of iodine. For more information on the dosage and different types of supplements, you can read this article.
For thousands of years, turmeric has long been credited for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-oxidant properties. A study published on PubMed found that turmeric significantly reduced the toxic effect of fluoride to near normal levels (8).
. Vitamin K2
In the 1920s, Dr. Weston Price discovered a vitamin-like compound, which he called 'Activator X' that was later identified as vitamin K2. Dr. Price found that pairing vitamin K2 with vitamins A, D that are naturally found in cod liver oil, worked marvelously at remineralizing teeth and even reversing tooth decay. New research has found that vitamin K2 has the ability to direct calcium to deposit in the places where it's needed most in the body such as the teeth and bones, while helping decalcify the arteries. Therefore, it is logical to say that vitamin K2 may help decalcify the pineal gland as well.
A study that was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that boron is an antidote for fluorine (9).
Foods that are rich in boron include: avocados, almonds, bananas, dates, walnuts, chickpeas, beets, raisins and beans.
Things to remember from this post
1. The pineal gland has been symbolized as the Third Eye by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago.
2. It converts serotonin, the happy molecule, into melatonin.
3. The pineal gland has an effect on your sleep quality, aging process and hormones.
4. Fluoride deposits can calcify the pineal gland.
5. Supplements such as iodine and boron can help restore the function of the pineal gland.
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