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Pituitary gland

General characteristics

General characteristics

The pituitary gland is sometimes called 'the master gland' or referred to as the 'conductor of the orchestra', the orchestra being the endocrine (hormonal) system. It is a vital link between the nervous system and the endocrine system and is also under the influence of the hypothalamus.

It is a pea sized gland situated towards the front of the brain behind the eyes just below the optic nerve. The pituitary is composed of two 'lobes' the anterior or frontal lobe and the posterior or rear lobe. Each lobe is responsible for the secretion of hormones which in turn control and maintain the hormonal secretions of other organs and systems. For instance, the anterior pituitary secretes growth hormone (controlling body growth), prolactin (milk production after childbirth), ACTH (stimulates adrenal gland hormones), TSH (stimulates thyroid hormones), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone) which control ovarian and testicular activities. The posterior lobe secretes ADH (reduces urine production in the kidneys) and oxytocin (stimulates womb contractions during the birthing process). The pituitary gland also produces MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone) which controls the substance melanin, responsible for skin colour.

Disorder in the pituitary gland are often caused by benign tumours (rarely malignant) in either the anterior or posterior lobes. Tumours are classed as 'functional' if they are accompanied by changes in hormone secretion or 'non-functional' if hormone secretion is unchanged. The specific location and the rate of growth of the tumour indicates what side effects will be noticed within the body. Tumours of the pituitary can result in either an overproduction of hormones, some of these disorders may resolve when the tumour is removed whilst some effects (such as overproduction of growth hormone) may be permanent. Disorders resulting from pituitary gland disease or tumour include acromegaly or 'giantism' (overproduction of growth hormone), visual disturbances (due to pressure on the optic nerve), Cushings disease, reproductive and sexual problems (such as infertility or impotence) and metabolic disorders such as diabetes insipidus and obesity. Hypopituitarism is a condition whereby the gland does not secrete enough hormones and changes in the body are noticed. It can be caused by tumour, head injuries, infections or stroke and can become chronic and long term.

Healing objectives should focus on trying to maintain good all round health in the whole body. The pituitary gland is particularly sensitive to the effects of your diet so good nutrition is a must for its health. The pituitary gland normally secretes its hormones in response to fluctuating levels of the hormones under its control. For example, low thyroid hormone output will cause the pituitary to secrete TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and therefore stimulate the thyroid to secrete more. Over time this may deplete the health and functioning of the pituitary gland. Chronic stress  and negative thinking also depletes the gland as does a lack of appropriate minerals.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates as these are particularly harmful to health causing excess mucous and hormonal stresses. Interestingly, disorders of the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland are thought to be linked to insatiable cravings for sweet things.

Eat plenty of fresh foods particularly raw foods in salad form such as green leaves and sprouted seeds, grains or nuts as they provide valuable nutrients.

Good quality proteins are vital for the manufacture of pituitary hormones so include plenty of fresh fish, legumes and high quality organic animal produce.

Other nutrients that are beneficial to the health and functions of the pituitary include vitamins A, E and the B complex and the mineral manganese. Good sources include wheat germ and whole grains (in their outer casing).

Edible seaweeds can also maintain a healthy pituitary and thyroid due to their richness in iodine.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Make a formula using equal parts of alfalfa, gotu kola and ginkgo dried herbs and drink a cup (using a heaped teaspoon of the mix) 3 times daily. The herbs will greatly help to nourish and support the pituitary gland and provide feelings of energy and vitality.

Agnus castus can be taken when the sex hormones (both male and female) are out of balance. Take up to a teaspoon of the tincture in water twice daily.

Adaptogenic herbs such as siberian ginseng and reishi will help to calm the physical and emotional effects that extreme emotions and stress has on the body. Take 1 or 2 capsules of the powdered herbs daily.

Rhodiola, schisandra and ashwaganda are also apaptogenic herbs that acts to maintain the good health of the pituitary gland and endocrine system.

Turmeric has shown excellent results in the treatment of pituitary tumours according to Take up to a teaspoon of powder daily.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Certain types of meditation are believed to maintain the health of the pituitary and endocrine system. Search the internet for something like 'healing meditations for the pituitary gland'.

Some yoga postures such as the 'child pose' and the 'triangle' are believed to benefit the pituitary gland.

Positive thoughts and feelings are known to benefit the pituitary. Anything that promotes deep relaxation and a sense of well being will contribute to the health of the gland.

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