The Enigmatic Endocrine System Part I: Organs of Importance
When I write, I nearly always have classical or instrumental music playing in the background. Today, I’m listening to a playlist of some of the greatest symphonies of all time. It takes an orchestra of about one hundred musicians and a variety of instruments to create a symphony. If the conductor, a musician, or an instrument doesn’t perform optimally, the symphony will suffer in quality. As more musicians and instruments err, the symphony becomes noticeably wonky, and the “off-ness” most certainly affects the overall listening experience.
The endocrine system is very much like an orchestra. Many hands make light and beautiful work! Each of the twelve major glands/organs within the endocrine system relies on the others to do its work properly and efficiently in the body, and unless you’ve acquired an endocrine disorder, I would wager that you probably rarely think about this small but mighty system in the body.
Originally, I was only going to cover the thyroid in this series, but as I was writing about the effects of chronically low body temperature, I realized I would be doing you a disservice if I merely mentioned the other endocrine organs in passing. This happens all too often in western medicine, and incomplete information often results in applying a bandaid on the wrong area. We’ve got to look at the entire system if you are going to be a top notch health detective. With that…. Let’s proceed!
Pineal Gland Facts:
At the “top” of the endocrine system lies a small pinecone shaped, rice sized organ that is deep within the brain. The pineal gland is one of the least understood and most powerful parts of the human body. Its known primary role is to control body rhythm (day and night, the body’s seasonal activity, and even the aging process!) by way of production of melatonin. Melatonin itself has a profound influence in the body. We tend to think of it as our body’s elixir for sleep, but lack thereof also affects immune function, blood pressure, cortisol levels, eye health, seasonal mood disorders, and may even contribute to relief from acid reflux. The pineal gland also exerts its influence on another endocrine gland, the hypothalamus. Not everyone needs to supplement melatonin, but if you feel that you do, consider Young Living’s Immupro. It’s a chewable tablet taken right before bedtime. In addition to melatonin, it contains several other natural ingredients known to support the immune system and help facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Over time, the pineal gland gets dealt some pretty harsh blows as the body manages viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, a toxin burden, and exposure to heavy metals and fluoride. These all contribute to calcification of the pineal gland over time. As you may imagine, a malfunctioning pineal gland causes a cascade effect throughout the body.
The hypothalamus’ main role is to keep the body in homeostasis (self regulated balance) as much as possible. It also acts as a purveyor of information between the endocrine and nervous systems. Body temperature, thirst, appetite, weight, emotions, sleep cycles, libido, blood pressure, production of digestive juices, balancing of body fluids….. The hypothalamus is a magnificent multitasking micromanager when it is functioning well, but if the pineal gland doesn’t signal the hypothalamus properly, its performance will be inhibited. Head injuries, genetic or congenital conditions, and certain autoimmune disorders may also hinder the endocrine symphony in a variety of ways.
The hypothalamus-pituitary connection can be thought of as a major “command center” of the endocrine system. The thyroid does not stand alone. It relies on information coming from these two “high command” organs.
The Pituitary Gland Facts:
The pituitary gland is a fascinating team player within the endocrine system. Though it is tucked deeply within the brain, it is a delicate little bean. It may be damaged or adversely affected by:
Lack of blood supply
Medications (including opiates, SSRI’s, haloperidol, risperidone,and certain antibody therapies)
Concussions. Even seemingly mild concussions may cause a “dimmer switch” like effect on the endocrine system. This effect may occur instantaneously, or can begin to show up months to years after the original injury.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals
Endocrine disruptors are well known for causing pituitary dysfunction… they disrupt the entire endocrine system by mimicking, blocking, interfering with hormone production, or modifying the body’s sensitivity to hormones. The term “hormone” comes from the greek word “hormon” which means “to stir up”. Endocrine disruptors wreak havoc on the body’s ability “to stir up” and long term disruption often leads to diabetes, thyroid, and/or sex hormone dysfunction. The cascade doesn’t stop there. It will ultimately affect every system in the body. Thankfully, we have control of the environment within our homes and what we bring in to it.
First we have to identify the criminals, right? Once we do that, we change the locks on the door and don’t let them knowingly in again.
Common endocrine disruptors include:
BPA: a plasticizer found in inner linings of canned foods and in many plastic bottles and containers.
Atrazine and organophosphates are herbicides and pesticides commonly used throughout the agricultural industry. Buy organic to limit exposure. Consider starting a garden for full control over what you put into your body!
Perchlorate: another contaminate in food, milk, and water. Buy organic and filter your water to avoid this one.
Lead, arsenic, Mercury. Yes, sadly, these are all still out there. If you do a little digging, thimerosal is a mercury based preservative found in certain vaccines and medicines.
Perfluorinated chemicals: these bad boys are used to make nonstick cookware. Toss’em!
Phthalates are another common plasticizer. These can be found in plastics. Sadly, they are also found in standard US cosmetics and skin care. Thank goodness we have Young Living’s Savvy Minerals cosmetics and extensive skin care lines, (Bloom, ART, and Balance) suitable for every skin type.
Glycol Ethers are chemicals used as solvents and stabilizers found in personal care products, perfumes, cosmetics, household cleaners, and industrial products. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you’ve already kicked all these things to the curb, and have your castle (home) and temple(your body) cared for and supported by Thieves Household Cleaner (all things Thieves!) and all of the other wonderful healthy options Young Living has created for us.
Emotional unresolved trauma is another endocrine disruptor. Surprised? Studies are uncovering just how much damage may be done by not working through and releasing emotions. The body doesn’t lie, and we store so much at a cellular level. I encourage you to do the heart work and seek help if needed.
Next week, I’ll cover more extensive opportunities to naturally support the functioning of the pineal, hypothalamus, and pituitary. Recognizing the clues dropped by these three tiny organs is as important as deciphering and understanding thyroid clues!
(PS: It’s here!! If you’d like to order Volume I of Becoming Your Own Health Detective, the link is in the menu!
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