Chapter 6 – The Endocrine System
THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM is the key to the biochemical component of health in the same way that the nerve system is the key to the structural component. In reality, the functions of these two systems are so interrelated that they can essentially be referred to as one system: the neuroendocrine system.
The nerve system exerts lightening quick electrical impulses throughout the body, while the endocrine system quickly communicates with neurochemical hormones. Both forms of communication can control and coordinate millions of functions in the body every second.
The manufacture of hormones by the endocrine system allows it to regulate the metabolic function of every system, organ, tissue, and cell in the body. Essentially, these hormones are chemical messengers that allow the Intelligence of the body to create a balanced internal environment.
The endocrine system is so important to the core function of our body that any malfunction can cause myriad signs and symptoms in a variety of organs and systems. Check out the wide variety of symptoms in the implications section associated with each endocrine organ.
Did you ever notice when listening to an orchestra, especially a great one, how each instrument blends so well with the others, creating a sound that is exponentially greater than any one instrument can produce by itself? This provides a perfect analogy for the endocrine system. It is composed of a wide variety of instruments that contribute to the awesome symphony in the human body. And the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. At the same time, if an instrument/hormone is out of tune, it can easily be heard above the rest of the orchestra, and the once beautifully blended music becomes marred. It is important to see each component as it relates to the whole system. But if the endocrine system is the orchestra, who is the maestro or conductor?
It’s a good question. Before I answer, I’d like to introduce the endocrine orchestra. Review the accompanying illustration, and let’s take it from the top.
The Endocrine SystemThe instruments with the highest pitch are the pineal gland, the pituitary gland, and the thyroid gland. The thymus gland, centrally located at the heart of the endocrine system, is in the midrange, while the pancreas, adrenal glands, the sex glands-called the gonads (ovaries in women, and the testicles in men)-round out the lower ranges.
When you come to chapter 12 and explore the emotional component of health, you will see how each endocrine gland does, in fact, correspond to certain tonal frequencies and emotions. Specific musical tones will not only strengthen an endocrine gland, but can help clear out stuck emotions. You can learn to use sound as a way of clearing negative emotions associated with the endocrine system. This is a very powerful tool for healing.
Each endocrine gland has a huge range of influence within the body due to the action of powerful hormones that circulate the bloodstream. Much of the power and energy generated by the human body is created in the endocrine system, which is why I refer to it here as the power drive system. Basically, the endocrine system transforms our subtle energy fields into seven major power centers. In my experience, the endocrine system represents the
magnetic, feeling, feminine, right-brained aspect of life in the human body.
There are actually a few different conductors in our endocrine system orchestra. The pituitary gland is called the master gland because it directs the actions of the endocrine glands that are below it. In most cases, the pituitary receives its instructions from the hypothalamus in the brain, which in turn receives its instructions from the pineal gland. Ultimately, the hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands receive instructions from the Internal Intelligence of the body. So, the grande maestro of the endocrine system orchestra is in fact our own Inner Intelligence.
The pineal, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands respond to higher levels of vibration in the body. In our endocrine system-orchestra analogy, these organs would compose the soprano section. The pineal gland is also capable of effecting important brain structures, as it interconnects with the function of the nerve system. Like so many areas of the body, the endocrine system is such a complex system that much of its action remains a mystery. Included here is one of my favorite illustrations of the endocrine system created by the famous endocrinologist Dr. Henry Harrower.
For me, this illustration provides a high wow factor.
What we do know about the endocrine system is that its glands secrete a wide variety of hormones that travel rapidly through the bloodstream, and influence target organs throughout the body, which in turn effect all of our forty quadrillion cells.
Biochemically, hormones are composed of a combination of proteins and steroids, which become extremely important when a person is nutritionally deficient and unable to make hormones that function properly. When deficiencies of protein or essential fats occur, the chemical message that hormones normally carry to target organs cannot be delivered.
The common result is that the Intelligence of the body is unable to maintain a balanced internal environment, which produces a cacophony of biochemical imbalances that eventually lead to dis-ease.
A target organ is an organ or group of cells that respond to the instructions of circulating hormones. Each hormone carries a specific message that only certain target organs can receive. When these hormones successfully reach their destination, a chemical message is also sent by the target organ, letting the body know that the message has been received.
This process is similar to what happens when we send a facsimile. When the chemical message from an endocrine organ has been successfully received, a return message is immediately sent back by the target organ indicating that the transaction is complete. When our Inner Intelligence receives the message from the target organ, it stops sending the chemical message. This process illustrates communication at its finest, but can provide an opportunity for chemical communication to go astray. If nutritional deficiencies exist, a part of this important chemical conversation never occurs.
The Pineal Gland
Below is an illustration of the pineal gland and its location in the center of the brain. It is interesting to note that the pineal gland is actually the remnant of a third eye that appears early in the developing fetus. Confirming what mystics have been saying for centuries, the third eye is responsible for our inner sight (insight), and directly connects us to our spiritual self.
The pineal gland functions as an integral part of both the nerve and endocrine systems, and somehow translates subtle energy fields of light into both electrical and biochemical signals. Truthfully, what we know about this amazing endocrine organ could be put on a postage stamp.
Clinically, each endocrine organ has a very specific nutrient that makes it work. Unbelievably, the specific nutrient for the pineal gland is light. That’s right: In order to function normally, the pineal needs to be exposed to the entire spectrum of light. It is activated by light, transmits light, translates light, responds to the quality of light, and this mysterious organ may even magnify the effects of light for the rest of the body.
The pineal gland also regulates the hypothalamus, and influences the thyroid, thymus, pancreas, adrenals, and sex glands. The pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which it produces in total darkness and which relates to the rhythms of our inner biological clock.
Scientifically, melatonin has been found to regulate seasonal cycles, sleep cycles, daily body rhythms, the day and night cycles in the body, and countless brain functions. Melatonin increases the effectiveness of the immune system by suppressing the adrenal hormone cortisol, and is a powerful antioxidant that has the ability to fight free radical damage, which is a primary factor in aging. Melatonin also acts as an antistress agent.
Melatonin is a derivative of the nerve transmitter serotonin, and is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. The levels of serotonin in the brain are known to effect mood swings, emotional health and overall behavior. Low serotonin levels are directly associated with depression.
Research has shown that the pineal gland in birds and other animals contain
magnetic material at the heart of their navigational system. Current research demonstrates that this may be true for human beings as well. It appears that the pineal gland responds to magnetism as well as to light.
In recent years, it has also been determined that the pineal gland becomes disturbed by abnormal electro-magnetic field radiation, or EMFs. Abnormal levels of EMFs can be emitted from overhead power lines, electrical wiring in our homes, x-rays, fluorescent lights, electrical appliances, telephones, computers, cellular phones, microwaves, televisions, automobiles, airplanes, clock radios, and the list goes on and on.
The electro-magnetic disturbances produced by the huge number of EMF
devices in our culture not only effect the production of melatonin by the pineal gland but also the overall health and well-being of the human organism. After all, at our core, human beings are electro-magnetic in nature, and if that energy flow is disturbed, the health of the entire organism can be jeopardized.
The pineal gland can provide a direct connection to Spirit for human beings.
When the pineal is healthy, active, and alive, we become sensitive to the finer frequencies of light, and we become aware of the more subtle levels of our human experience. If the pineal is impaired, the magical music of Spirit recedes into the background, and the possibility of multidimensional wholeness becomes a distant reality.
Implications of pineal gland dysfunction include sleep disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression, a host of emotional disorders, disturbances in body temperature, jet lag, problems in the reproductive system, premature aging, and the possible proliferation of cancer cells.
HEALTH TIP #1: Enhance the Function of Your Pineal Gland
1.Enhance the function of your pineal gland by keeping all electrical devices at least six feet away from the head of your bed-this includes clock radios and TVs. Use an EMF protection screen on your computer. If you are exposed to large amounts of EMFs from computers, cell phones, and electrical lines, wear an EMF protection device or an EMF magnet that can be easily carried in your pocket. Meditation, toning, singing, and vibrational healing have all been shown to be effective in strengthening the extremely sensitive pineal gland.
2. Nutritional support for the pineal gland includes the amino acid tryptophan, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, pineal glandular extracts, and vision, color, and light therapy. See appendix A for a list of sources to maintain a healthy functioning pineal gland, and see chapter 13 for the positive attitudes, emotions, colors, and sounds that support pineal function.
The Hypothalamus and the Pituitary Gland
The pituitary has been called the master gland because of the level of control it exerts over the rest of the endocrine system. The pituitary gland has been called the workhorse of the endocrine system, as it reacts to the feedback it receives from the body, and sends instructions to other endocrine glands to produce balancing hormones.
The accompanying illustration shows the pituitary gland and its location at the base of the brain. It is directly below and connected to the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland is nestled in the small saddle of the sphenoid bone, and if you gently push your tongue up into the soft part of your palate, you will be pushing on the underside of your pituitary gland.
Because the pituitary sits within a cranial bone, it is intimately connected and adversely affected by cranial misalignments. The sphenoid bone lies directly behind the eyes and includes the sensitive temple area slightly above and in front of both ears.
The pituitary gland has two distinct parts, the anterior and posterior pituitary. The anterior pituitary produces six hormones: one that stimulates growth throughout the body; two that stimulate the sex glands; one that stimulates milk production in a mother soon after birth: one that stimulates the thyroid; and one that stimulates the adrenal glands.
The posterior pituitary secretes two hormones: one that increases water absorption by the kidneys; and another that stimulates the contraction of the uterus during childbirth. The posterior pituitary is composed solely of nerve tissue and is functionally a part of the nerve system.
The hypothalamus has the ability to access both the nerve and the endocrine systems, and is a major player in the communication crossover between the two. The hypothalamus accesses the nerve system through the automatic or autonomic nerve system, which includes both the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. See chapter 3 for more details. The hypothalamus has the ability to control heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, elimination, and a multitude of other system and organ functions in the body.
The hypothalamus is directly connected to the endocrine system by the pituitary gland, and actually stimulates the pituitary to secrete a variety of hormones that regulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands, the thymus, pancreas, adrenals, and sex glands. The hypothalamus is also connected to the limbic system, which functions as the center for feelings and emotions in the body.
The pituitary has a vast area of influence in the body and can ultimately be the cause of any imbalance in the endocrine glands it influences. Common implications of pituitary involvement are growth-related problems (often initiated by protein deficiency); weight problems, such as obesity; diabetes and other blood sugar-related problems; carbohydrate intolerance; liver-related problems, water retention, and problems with circulation.
HEALTH TIP #2: Enhance the Functioning of Your Pituitary Gland
Utilize Cranial Alignments
The sphenoid bone is really the temple of the pituitary gland. If your temples or the roof of your mouth become extremely sensitive to the touch, or you experience headaches in these sensitive areas, a misaligned sphenoid bone may be the cause of your problems. If tenderness exists in any of these areas, contact a cranial sacral specialist and use the cranial balls as indicated in chapter 3.
The Pituitary Tap
The pituitary lies right between your eyes, directly behind a small bump called the glabella (illustration). Gently tap the glabella about 20 times, several times each day, to help stimulate pituitary function. Other strategies for enhancing the functioning of the pituitary gland:
- Utilize the energy exercises presented in chapter 4, especially the variation of the squat called the Youthful Pose, which directly stimulates the pituitary gland. All endocrine organs are also supported by the Slant Board Exercise described in chapter 1.
- Nutritional support for the pituitary gland includes the supplemental use of manganese and magnesium, vitamin-E complex, fenugreek tea, and pituitary extracts. If you are a pituitary type, as described in chapter 7, follow the pituitary diet. Sources for all nutritional products are listed in appendix A.