Our previous posts have been tackling the relation between our Chakras and our Endocrine System. This post will expand your knowledge on one of our favorite Chakras, the Third Eye, and its close association with the Pineal gland.
Pineal Gland: Brief Historical Perspective
Our “Pine”al Gland, is shaped like and hence named after the pine cone. It is situated at the geometric center of our brain and is strongly connected with our perception of light.
The Egyptian Staff of Osiris dates back to around 1224 BC. It demonstrates two intertwining serpents (large snakes) that meet at a pine cone. This symbol parallels the Indian “Kundalini” that represents the spiritual energy carried in the body in a similar pattern, with the 2 serpents rising up from the base of the spine to meet at the Third Eye, the Pineal Gland, when enlightenment is reached.
Shiva, one of the most sacred deities in Hinduism, is always represented with coiled hair that is remarkably similar to a pine cone that is interwoven between 2 serpents.
Even Catholic religious traditions signal for the importance of pine cones. The sacred staff of the Pope has a pine cone near its top. Also, the Vatican flag features three crowns stacked above each other to have a shape with striking similarity to pine cones.
Kindly note that this was a very brief overview of this history of the importance of the pine cone and its direct correlation with the Pineal gland, Chakras, and Enlightenment.
Pineal Gland: Structure & Location
The pineal gland is a small gland (about 8 mm long) that looks like a pine cone. It is directly attached to the brain along its midline and at the lobes of the thalamus (responsible for consciousness, sleep/wake cycle, and voluntary movements) from its base.
Even though it is a gland, the structure of the pineal gland closely resembles that of nervous tissue. It mostly consists of astrocytes (star-shaped glial cells for the support and protection of the cells of the brain and spinal cord) and pinealocytes (unique cells of this gland that produce melatonin) that are surrounded by a layer of pia mater (innermost layer of the meninges/membranes that covers the brain and spinal cord).
Pineal Gland: Functions
The Pineal gland regulates our circadian rhythms (our internal clocks), and remains uniquely isolated from the blood-brain barrier allowing it to receive a greater blood flow than any other body organ, apart from the kidneys.
For this gland to be activated, a long and complex system of interactions must occur. P.S. This section has too much Biology!
1. During the day, light strikes the photo-receptor cells of the retina which triggers nerve impulses to signal the brain to produce “vision”.
The suprachiasmatic nuclei (tiny region in the brain that controls the circadian rhythm) of the hypothalamus are then stimulated by this nerve signal and inhibit the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus.
2. At night, when there’s no light, the inhibition of the paraventricular nucleus is released; and so it signals the sympathetic neurons (responsible for immediate responses) in the spinal cord.
Then, these neurons signal the superior cervical ganglion (responsible for maintaining homeostasis) in the neck to deliver norepinephrine (chemical neurotransmitter) to stimulate the pinealocytes of the pineal gland.
This stimulation triggers this gland to release the hormone melatonin (functions stated below) into the bloodstream to get distributed throughout the body. The figure below summarizes the previously mentioned steps of the pineal gland activation.
The figure below summarizes the functions of melatonin.
Pineal Gland: De-calcification & Healing
During development, the pineal gland starts to naturally shrink at the age of 25. This causes hormonal changes and changes in sleep patterns that are commonly experienced while aging.
Moreover, poor diet, exposure to toxins and electromagnetic fields, stress, and artificial light harden the pineal gland and calcify it till it “shuts down“.
Importantly, fluoride (found in toothpaste and water) and chlorine (found in household detergents) get deposited on the calcium-rich pineal gland and de-calcify it!
The figure below provides great tips for the de-calcification of the pineal gland!
Now that you have learned all the important ins and outs of this gland and its direct correlation with the third eye, make sure that you maintain it healthy and in check so that your portal to enlightenment stays wide open!
Ranim Daw, MS in Cell & Molecular Biology
American University of Beirut
March 23, 2017