We talked a little about how some foods affect our Circadian rhythm and sleep patterns in our last post. This is very true, and for those of us who have sleep issues, this may be your path to sawing a forest full of logs! We all have a hormone in our bodies that controls our sleep cycles, seasonal cycles and Circadian rhythms, called Melatonin. This hormone is secreted by one of our endocrine glands, called the Pineal gland. The Pineal gland is a little pea sized gland situated in a small groove between the two hemispheres of our brain, where the thalamus join. It is shaped like a pine cone, thus the name “pineal”. The weird thing about this little gland, is that it is made up of the same rod and cone shaped cells as our eyes and has the same fluid that is found in our eye. How weird is that? It is referred to as the “third eye” in mystic circles and as the “eye of Horus” in ancient Egypt. Several studies have been conducted on this weird little gland and some of them are interesting indeed. All vertebrates, except one or two on the planet, have this gland. When studying lab rats, some researchers found that when void of all light, rats preferred to drink alcohol over water. When their glands were removed, it had the opposite effect. In some humans with dysfunctional Pineal glands, a craving for alcohol was also noted. What a weird connection eh? Maybe that’s why bars always have such dim lighting? The study also found that people who worked nights, stayed up late and didn’t get outside in the sunlight much, overtaxed their Pineal glands, and exhibited signs of menstrual cycle irregularities, sore breasts and increased alcohol consumption. Some studies linked stress, intake of refined sugars and epinephrine as causes of Pineal dysfunction. One of the things that inhibit Pineal function, is calcification of the gland itself. Scientists have found that most humans over fifty have calcified Pineal glands. There are varying degrees of explanations why this happens, some say its from the intake of fluoride. Our drinking water, fluoride toothpaste, dental rinses, and from other environmental exposures to fluoride containing chemicals. Some say its because many people live most of their lives in artificial light, and their gland overtaxes and then atrophies from non use, being photo-sensitive and not being exposed to natural sunlight. Whatever the case may be, you don’t hear of any products out there being advertised as Pineal gland supportive or any aids for Pineal health. I guess Americans are more interested in a cat’s urinary tract health or whether their dog is getting pure meat in their gourmet dining routines. So, the takeaway from this should be that we all should get more sunshine and eat foods that promote Pineal health. Foods that are high in Lecithin help to produce more melatonin, Soy being the most Lecithin rich. The same old list shows up again as foods that are good for us, vegetables, legumes, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, Cauliflower and leafy greens. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are also foods rich in Lecithin. We’ll explore the mystic side to this gland in our next post……i’m going to go outside and eat some cheese in the sunshine!!