Your Pineal Gland

By Kimberly Kalfas, ND


The Pineal Gland is a small pea-sized gland that sits behind the bridge of the nose between the eyes in the skull. Inside the brain, this tiny pine-cone shaped gland sits at the roof of one of main production centers of the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid in your spinal cord and brain), and between the two halves of the thalamus, a brain structure that is the main relay station for motor and sensory input to the brain cortex and regulates consciousness, alertness and sleep. The function of the pineal glad is to receive light or lack of light (dark) signals from our eyes, and determine the amount of melatonin that is to be produced from the biochemical precursor 5-Hydroxytryptamine, also known as Serotonin.

In many Eastern religions, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland are thought to make up the center called the Third Eye, a focal point for meditation and breathing practices. In most religions there are rituals involving placement of ceremonial ash, colors, scents, and jewels over this area. The concept of the third eye in science is related to the fact that in certain reptiles, the tissue of the pineal body is so close to the surface of the skin that it can actually receive light directly without the eyes intervening! This gland has been called the "receiver of light", "eye of insight", and possibly what Jim Morrison (or rather earlier William Blake was referring to when he spoke of the "doors of perception" when he said "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. The French philosopher Rene’ Descartes, founder of rationalism and well known for "I think, therefore I am", believed that this mystery gland was the "principal seat of the soul", a place for the union of "body and mind".

It is well known that the pineal gland calcifies with age, and that calcification in most organs is a sign of disease. Older studies have noted higher rates of calcified pineal glands than newer studies, suggesting a current rising cause of the organ dysfunction. One of the original calcification studies in 1985 was comparing calcification on brain X-rays to our ability to have a "sense of direction", as it was found earlier that homing pigeons with calcified pineal glands lost their homing ability. (Here is the report of that study.)

In craniosacral therapy, were we work with the connective tissues that reach deep into the skull and even into the brain and spinal cord, we are often reminded that the blood supply to every brain structure is related to the ability of the vessels to move freely to and from the glands, brain tissue, and meniniges (brain connective tissues) in the head. Sometimes blood is unable to bathe the tissue when a bone is taken out of alignment or out of its natural movement pattern, and like a foot stepping on a hose, slows down or completely stops blood flow. Damage can occur when there is a lack of fresh blood and nutrients and a build up of waste products. Calcified pineal glands have been shown in studies to produce less melatonin when prompted by the lack of light. Melatonin is a key component in sleep-wake cycles, as well as a potent antioxidant and anti-cancer agent especially in brain, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer.

The question remains, is it our lifestyles of false daylight and technology driven excitatory nerve patterns in the evening hours that are causing the calcification of our glands? Is it possible that our lack of attention on our spiritual selves ages our pineal gland to the point where we feel old, can’t sleep and are at a higher risk for cancer?

10 Simple Steps to Better Sleep

  1. Turn off the TV, computer, cell phone at least 2 hours before bedtime. Light from those devices can delay onset of melatonin secretion.
  2. Turn off the lights and make sure your room is not lit up at night. If you can see your hand it is too light inside your room.
  3. Pick a relaxing activity before bed that is just for you!
  4. Take a bath with Epsom Salt! Magnesium in Epsom Salt will relax muscle tissue.
  5. Make a list of your "to-dos" before you go to bed, so that your head is clear
  6. Read a book that is imaginative, spiritual, or otherwise resonates with your higher self
  7. No coffee at least 5 hours before bedtime. It takes that long for the caffeine to leave your system!
  8. Drink some herbal (non-black) tea that can help you relax.
  9. Do not eat a few hours before bed, especially sugar. Let your body digest the day instead of food.
  10. Consult with your Naturopathic Doctor on ways to help you sleep naturally with testing, herbal formulas and supplements.