The pineal gland is a small, pine-cone-shaped endocrine gland in the centre of the brain. Although it is one of the smallest glands, its functions are vital to the human body. What are the key functions of this gland? Why are these important?
The Main Function Of The Pineal Gland Is To Produce And Secrete Melatonin
Melatonin is vital in controlling and maintaining our circadian rhythms. These are more commonly known as out sleep-wake cycles. Says the National Sleep Foundation:
“Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.”
The gland communicates information about environmental lighting to the brain. This affects our sleep-wake cycles.
Melatonin secretion is affected by natural light and darkness. Have you ever thought about why we sleep better in darkness? Well, melatonin – which makes us sleepy- is secreted the most in the dark. When we are in natural light, our melatonin secretion is lowered. This keeps our bodies alert. This is why you sometimes have trouble falling asleep with the light on.
The Pineal Gland Also Plays A Vital Role In Regulating Reproductive Hormones
This is for both males and females. It influences sexual development, sex drive, and plays a role in regulating female hormones which may affect fertility and the menstrual cycle.
The pineal gland also influences how the immune system and antioxidants function. It has a direct effect on hunger, thirst and the body’s natural ageing process.
In addition to the above functions, the pineal gland helps the body convert signals from the nervous system to the endocrine system.
Should the pineal gland begin to function abnormally, a number of issues may occur in the body:
- As mentioned above, melatonin helps us sleep. Should the pineal gland fail to produce sufficient amounts of melatonin, a person will start to experience insomnia (difficulty sleeping), which in turn could lead to other problems such as anxiety, irritability and difficulty focussing.
- Other issues – like low thyroid hormone production, menopausal symptoms and intestinal hyperactivity – could also be caused by lowered amounts of melatonin.
- When too much melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, this 0could also lead to a number of issues, like low blood pressure and abnormal function of the adrenal and thyroid glands.
How To Make Sure The Pineal Gland Functions Optimally
Nutritional experts say that there are a number of ways that you can keep your pineal glad – as well as the rest of your body – in tip-top condition. For example, eating organic foods and supplementing with apple cider vinegar will help in cleansing your body.
The pineal gland might be small but the roles it plays in different functions of the body is crucial to our health. On Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Personal Training Certification, candidates will learn the ins and outs of anatomy and physiology – and so much more – that will make them a world-class personal trainer. Click here for more information.