The pineal gland has caught the interest of many endocrinologists. For such a small gland it plays an important function in the body and is also responsible for the secretion of many types of hormones. Understanding the pineal gland, will help people understand more fully the complexity of their body.
What Is The Pineal Gland?
- The pineal gland is also known as the pineal body, epiphysis, epiphysis cerebri, and “third eye”.
- The pineal gland measures small in size, equivalent to a grain of rice, and resembles the shape of a pinecone.
- The pineal gland continues to grow until the child reaches one to two years of age. The size remains stable afterwards.
- The weight of the pineal gland increases, however, from puberty onwards.
- The pineal body has a rich blood flow, making it second only to the kidney. This is because the pineal gland is not isolated from the rest of the body through the brain’s blood-brain barrier.
Pineal Gland Function In The Brain
The pineal gland contains GnRH, TRH, vasotocin, somatostatin, norepinephrine, histamine, and serotonin and is known for producing melatonin, a derivative of tryptophan.
Pineal gland becomes calcified with growing age, the melatonin production also decreases. Because of its photosensitivity, pineal gland is known as a timekeeper in human body.
The other important functions of the pineal gland include:
- The gland is also responsible to reduce mental stress with improving sleep pattern, thus it indirectly influences the body to maintain and increase the immune response to fight against viruses and other infections.
- It causes the feeling of sleepiness
- Pineal gland converts nervous system signals into endocrine signals
- It helps regulate endocrine function in the body
- Pineal gland secretes melatonin it modulates the waking and the sleeping pattern.
- Children sleep longer than adults and the reason known to induce more sleep is high level of melatonin production in children.
Pineal Gland Location
- Simply put, the anatomical position of the pineal gland is on the posterior wall of the brain’s third ventricle.
- Specifically, it can be found near the brain’s center, between the left and right hemispheres, and tucked inside a groove where two rounded thalamic bodies meet.
- The pineal gland’s location make it part of the epithalamus.
- A human’s pineal gland is often calcified and so it can be seen in skull X-rays with no contrast needed.
- The color of pineal gland is reddish grey.