The pineal gland is a last discovered hormone located in the center of the brain. It is very small in size and pine cone shaped containing calcium, fluoride and phosphorus deposits.
The pineal gland is located in the middle of the brain, in between the two hemispheres. It secretes melatonin (sometimes confused with melanin) and helps to maintain sleep-wake cycle also known as circadian rhythms.
It helps to regulate female hormonal levels and menstrual cycle. It was once designated as “third eye”. It is widely believed that the pineal gland is key to our spiritual awakening and psychic abilities.
Melatonin is the chemical in charge of our sleep cycles and the quality of our sleep, and it also regulates the onset of puberty. A decline in melatonin triggers the aging process in the body.
Serotonin is responsible for mood, is transformed into melatonin only in the pineal gland. Pineal gland function tends to decline with age. Research shows that without the pineal gland and its secretion of melatonin, animals are unable to adapt physiologically to seasonal changes.
Functions of Melatonin:
Melatonin regulates circadian rhythms
Circadian rhythm is a 24 hours biological cycle characterized by sleep-wake patterns. Melatonin secretion is low during the daylight hours and high during the dark periods (night). In the late afternoon and early evening, hormones are released that prepare the body for sleep. During the early hours of the morning, the body starts to prepare for waking and activity by secrering hormones.
Melatonin regulates the reproductive hormones
Melatonin blocks the secretion of female reproductive hormones from the anterior pituitary which play an important role in the development and functioning of ovaries and testes.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant.
Melatonin from pineal gland may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Melatonin prevents the formation and spreading of tumors.
Pineal gland may influence the actions of recreational drugs its hormone melatonin can protect against neurodegeneration.
Pineal-derived melatonin regulates new bone deposition and can be a target for osteoporosis treatment.
Malfunctions of Pineal gland:
Dysregulation of pineal gland may cause mood disorders.
The impaired pineal gland may produce cancer risk.
It may damage the sense of vision.
Impaired memory can occur because it is located with many other important structures in the brain.
Damage to this gland is associated with declines in the sense of direction.
Excessive production of melanin can cause blood pressure and abnormality of the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Jet Lag / Time Zone Change Syndrome
When a person travels across different time zones, his circadian rhythm is disturbed. Fatigue and other symptoms develop known as jet lag. Less sleep during travel can contribute to this condition. Human body is synchronized to day and night and this synchronization is controlled by the secretion of melatonin. Jet lag can cause digestive problems and memory lapses.
Jet lag doesn’t require treatment but certain therapies can be employed to overcome jet lag after traveling:
- By carefully planning the time to sleep and wake, jet lag can be adjusted in weeks.
- Sunlight helps to adjust the body’s internal clock. Exposure to artificial light at certain times help reinforce your body clock. Light therapy is required when you travel to a place without much light.
- Melatonin supplements can help to readjust the disturbed circadian rhythms caused by jet lag.
- Sleeping pills can be used to adjust short-term sleep deprivation during traveling.
- Avoid taking caffeine.
Author: Sana Khalid