Last week I discussed the function and importance of the hypothalamus and how it can affect your general health. In this discussion, I will follow up with information on its partner in hormonal heroics, the pituitary gland. This pea-sized, reddish-gray gland stores the hormones delivered from the hypothalamus and then releases them into your bloodstream. The pituitary gland has two parts, an anterior lobe and a posterior lobe and both have important functions.
The anterior lobe (or adenohypophysis) is the part that secretes the hormones from five locations (think of a Grand Central Station for hormones) by the hypothalamus that provides important hormones that regulate body functions. The major ones include:
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone- This stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete steroid hormones, specifically cortisol
- Growth hormone – This regulates growth, metabolism and overall body composition
- Reproductive hormones in the ovaries or testes that stimulate sex hormones, egg and sperm production.
- Prolactin – stimulates breast milk production
- Thyroid stimulating hormone, which regulates the thyroid gland.
The posterior pituitary gland is a hormone delivery system that is controlled by the brain itself. These are made by the hypothalamus but are kept in the posterior pituitary gland before being released into the bloodstream:
- Anti-diuretic hormone – Controls water balance and blood pressure.
- Oxytocin – Stimulates uterine contractions during labor and milk secretion for breastfeeding
When problems occur in the pituitary gland, it’s usually either because the gland is producing too many hormones or too little. Problems can also occur when the shape of the gland itself is altered by an exterior circumstance like a tumor.
Proper levels of manganese, magnesium and vitamin E in your system are requirements for healthy pituitary gland function. Foods rich in the necessary minerals and vitamin E include wheat, leafy greens, nuts and legumes. You also need iodine and iron. Insufficient dietary iodine prevents production of enough thyroid hormones. Here are some simple steps to improve pituitary gland function:
- Avoid refined sugars, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and any other processed food ingredients.
- Increase your iodine intake by eating foods like fish, seaweed, broccoli, and spinach, or get it by using a natural supplement.
- Add Oregano oil with food or as a supplement. It has powerful antioxidant properties that are a great defense against harmful free radicals.
- Drink beet juice. This can reduce calcium build up and flush out fluoride and heavy metals from your system.
- Chlorella, wheatgrass and spirulina help repair damaged tissues by increasing oxygen levels.
Cod liver oil (your mother was right) contains vitamins and minerals essential for decalcifying calcium deposits and is also a rich source of retinoic acid, which increases androgen levels.