Pineal Gland at a Glance
The Pineal Gland at a Glance
This article will provide a brief overview of the Pineal Gland and its various functions and role in maintaining natural homeostasis within the human body, as well as other interesting functions this tiny little gland plays in regulating humanities states of awareness and consciousness.
Introducing the Pineal Gland
Here we have a tiny little gland, the size of a grain of rice, embedded within roughly the centre of the brain. Its shape closely resembles that of pine cone (which is where it gets its name).
Its predominately made up of Pineal and neuroglial cells both of which contribute to the main function of the Pineal Gland: the production of Melatonin.
The Pineal Gland Hormone: Melatonin
The Pineal Gland plays an important role in both the production of Melatonin and the transmutation of Serotonin into Melatonin, through a chemical Methylation process.
The agonist that regulates the function of the Pineal Gland is light.
In a nutshell....
Less perceived light means increased production and transmutation of Serotonin into Melatonin.
More perceived light equals less production of Melatonin and less transmutation of Serotonin into Melatonin.
Circadian Rhythm: Sleep-Wake Cycle
We all understand the importance of a good nights sleep once we finally get exposed to what it feels like not to get a good nights sleep. Quite simply the lack of sleep often results in impaired cognitive abilities and stress coping skills. It leaves individuals feeling more irritable, edgy and often fatigued and depressed.
Armed with this understanding we can begin to appreciate the importance of a healthy balanced Circadian Rhythm.
The Circadian Rhythm is governed quite simply through the perception of darkness and daylight. The part the Pineal Gland plays in the control of Circadian Rhythm is in its production of Melatonin when perceived light is reduced.
The human brain alternates between various brain wave patterns throughout the day and hence wakefulness and sleepiness is associated with these brain wave patterns. Beta brain waves is what we normally function on during our wakeful state. Alpha, Theta Delta and Gamma are states of consciousness often attained during our sleep state.
Not surprisingly the production of Melatonin has been linked with these altered states of consciousness through its scientifically studied correlation of Melatonin production vs. brain wave patterns.
From this information there is strong evidence for the important role the Pineal Gland has in inducing the mind into altered states of consciousness through its production of Melatonin.
Other scientific facts about Melatonin:
- It promotes DNA repair and replication
- Increases dream sleep (REM sleep patterns)
- Decreases the development of certain tumors
- Heightens the immune response (both metabolic and cellular)
- Inhibits atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries)
- Improvements in carbohydrate metabolism.
- Stops the excess secretion of cortisol in response to stress.
- Lowers triglyceride levels
- Stimulates free radical scavenging (anti-oxidant effects)
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