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Anatomy & Physiology
pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain in a pocket
inside the sphenoid bone known as the sella tursica. It weighs
only 1/2 gram (.018 ounces) of which 85% is water and it produces
1/100,000th of a gram of hormones daily.
pituitary gland via hormone secretion directly affects the thyroid,
adrenals, ovaries, testes, kidneys, and breasts. According to An
Endocrine Interpretation of Chapman’s Reflexes: the
pituitary "also exerts a definite influence on the intestines,
bladder, uterus, stomach, and spleen, its actions causing contraction
of the plain, unstrained muscles of the entire body" (page
secretions are in most part in response to signals from the hypothalamus.
It communicates with the posterior pituitary via nerve fibers
and the anterior pituitary via minute capillaries. The hypothalamus
collects information from the body concerning hormone and electrolyte
levels, pain, emotions, etc., and signals the pituitary accordingly
with the optimum health of the body in mind.
are seven major hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary: adrenal
corticotrophic hormone (ACTH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH),
follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH),
growth hormone (GH), melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), and
stimulates cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands and can increase
its secretion up to 2000%. It also has a small effect on aldosterone
and perhaps estrogen secretion. ACTH can be stimulated by low
blood sugar, infection, surgery, chronic disease, nor epinephrine
and similar medications, intense heat or cold.
signals the thyroid to secrete thyroxin and triiodothyronine.
It also increases the production of these hormones and increases
the size and number of thyroid cells. Two factors that cause abnormally
high TSH secretion are intense cold and emotional trauma.
in males aids in formation of sperm and in females aids in the
development of the egg and production of estrogen (see chapter
on ovaries for more information).
in males stimulates the formation of testosterone and in females
it is necessary for follicular growth, ovulation and progesterone
and estrogen production (see ovary chapter for more details).
promotes an increase in the size and number of all cells in the
body capable of growth and reproduction. It stimulates protein
synthesis and muscle growth while stimulating the body to use
up fat stores. It increases blood sugar levels (thus stimulating
insulin production) by decreasing carbohydrate utilization. It
also stimulates the production of a substance that promotes proper
bone and cartilage growth, development, and repair.
hormone is also necessary for tissue repair, and plays a role
in increasing our resistance to disease by stimulating the immune
system. It can speed wound healing, decrease blood urea levels,
and prevent or reverse osteoporosis. It is released in response
to sleep, fasting, and exercise. Many people over 50 no longer
produce any GH.
controls darkening of the skin and possibly plays a role in retention
of visual stimulation and memory.
aids in breast development during pregnancy, stimulates the mammary
gland cells to synthesize fat, lactose, and casein, thus producing
milk. Prolactin formation is normally inhibited until pregnancy
and it reaches a maximum after giving birth.
posterior pituitary secretes oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone
(ADH). Oxytocin is actually produced by the hypothalamus but stored
in the posterior pituitary. It stimulates the pregnant uterus
to begin the onset of labor, and also causes milk to travel from
the alveoli to the ducts making it available for the nursing child.
is also produced in the hypothalamus and stored in the posterior
pituitary. It controls the permeability of the renal tubules.
Secretion of ADH causes the kidneys to conserve water and electrolytes.
ADH is usually excreted in high volumes during periods of blood
of Pituitary Malfunction
Any symptoms listed in the chapters for the adrenals, thyroid,
testes, and ovaries, can be from pituitary malfunction causing
hormonal disturbances involving those organs.
General symptoms of anterior pituitary imbalance can include neck
and head pain on the left side, chronic headaches at the level
of the eyes, and seizures especially at night.
Over production of ACTH (possibly due to low blood sugar) can
indirectly cause increased levels of aldosterone and estrogen
causing water retention, dysmenorrhea, edema, weakness, and hypertension.
It can also lead to hyperglycemia and possibly non-insulin dependant
diabetes. Other symptoms include glucose intolerance and personality
changes. Chronic over production and resultant over production
of cortisol will shrink thymus and lymphatic tissue, and decrease
formation of antibodies and sensitized lymphocytes, thus greatly
decreasing our immunity.
Under production of ACTH can cause adrenal cortex atrophy, hypoglycemia,and generalized weakness, low blood pressure, salt loss, and increased
skin pigmentation. An intolerance to stress and infection will
Over production of TSH can lead to personality disorders, irritability,
increased sweating. Under production will cause hypothyroidism.
Over production of FSH and LH will cause early sexual maturation
and acne. Under production can cause gonadal atrophy, infertility,
amenorrhea, and decreased sperm production, impotence.
Over production of GH (GH can increase 10 fold from hypoglycemia
or prolonged fasting) can cause diabetes by stimulating insulin
production till the beta cells "burn out". It can also
produce gigantism, acromegaly.
Under production of GH can lead to weak ligaments and tendons,
decreased rate of wound healing, hypoglycemia, dwarfism, and poor
Under production of ADH can cause diabetes insipid us and excessive
Over production of ADH can lead to edema and hypertension.
In endocrine disorders new symptoms can crop up as the body tries
to correct itself. To give a fictitious example - a woman is suffering
from hypoadrenia due to bad diet and stress in her home life.
Her pituitary will step up ACTH production to try to increase
cortisol production. Since the adrenals are depleted, the ovaries
instead will somewhat increase production of estrogen since it
too is a steroid and they have a few functions in common. The
increased estrogen production causes the thyroid to slow down.
The woman develops menstrual cramping and starts putting on weight.
The point of the scenario is to show the interrelations of the
endocrine system and how in most cases three or four glands will
require treatment before normal function is restored.
of Pituitary Malfunction
It has been shown that our cranial bones as well as sacrum and
coccyx move very slightly in response to breathing. It is theorized
that this movement helps to "pump" the pituitary and
pineal glands and that if these movements are abnormally altered
one result can be pituitary malfunction. The author has clinically
confirmed this many times as have other chiropractors and osteopaths.
Restoring biomechanical equilibrium to these structures can bring
dramatic clinical results if it is the cause of the problem. The
following can cause a dysfunction in the normal biomechanics:
being delivered by forceps or other birth trauma, whiplash (due
to attachments of sternocleidomastoid and trapezius to the cranium),
improper breathing, injury or trauma to the head, long dental
procedures (due to drilling, mouth props etc. this is very common).
Wearing tight helmets, carrying weight on your head, and dental
occlusion causing an imbalance of forces to be transmitted through
the mandible to the temporal bone and the rest of the cranium
can also cause cranial malfunction and pituitary disturbance.
Other malfunctioning endocrine glands can alter pituitary outflow
and lead to malfunction (make sure ovaries, testes, adrenals,
thyroid, are working properly).
Dr. Pavlo Airola feels that mental and physical sexual stimulation
too early in life, as well as a high consumption of meat, dairy,
sugar, salt, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine can over stimulate
Severe emotional trauma can alter pituitary function.
Concentrated sweets will cause abnormal blood sugar disturbances
and thus altered ACTH and TSH output.
Julian De Vries in "Contraceptive Pill Criticized" feels
that birth control pills will increase your risk of pituitary
Cortisone medication can cause decreased ACTH production.
Hypoglycemia and prolonged fasting can lead to over production
of growth hormone and eventual exhaustion of production.
Rich fatty meals suppress GH production as does cortisone and
Nicotine causes over production of ADH while alcohol and caffeine
suppress ADH production (that is why beer makes you urinate so
Exposure to extreme cold without proper clothing can decrease
the size of the pituitary. It will also lead to an increase in
TSH and ACTH production, which could eventually exhaust it.
Indications of Pituitary Malfunction
If the anterior pituitary is malfunctioning one of the following
muscles may test weak on manual muscle testing: supraspinatus,
pectoralis major (inferior portion) (see Appendix C and figures
If the posterior pituitary is malfunctioning the middle trapezius
or subclavius may exhibit weakness on manual muscle testing (see
figures 4.3, 4.4).
A subnormal auxiliary temperature (described in thyroid chapter)
may also indicate pituitary malfunction.
and Treatment of Pituitary Malfunction
Occasionally nerve pressure in the cervical spine needs to be
corrected in pituitary cases.
Rubbing a reflex point right between the eyebrows (the glabella)
is often helpful. Try twice a week, one minute each time (see
Stay away from rich fatty foods, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, concentrated
sweets, medications containing epinephrine and cortisol.
Foods high in lecithin such as soybeans may be helpful. The pituitary
is composed partially of lecithin.
Avoid excessive sexual stimulation especially from TV, novels,
Dressing warmly, going to bed early, exercising, positive thoughts
all help balance GH and ACTH production.
If any of the above mentioned muscles test weak see if either
taking a deep breath and holding it makes it stronger, or if letting
all your breath out and holding it makes it stronger. If holding
your breath in strengthens the muscle, place your hand on the
posterior part of the mastoid process and during inspiration push
anterior with 2-3 pounds pressure. Keep repeating for 2-3 minutes
(see figure 4.5). If the muscle strengthens while holding your
breath out, place your fingers on the anterior part of the mastoid
process and push posterior during expiration for 2-3 minutes (see
figure 4.6). If you don’t understand these instructions or if
this technique doesn’t bring strength back to the weak muscle
(retest it after correction during normal respiration) see an
osteopath or chiropractor that is trained in cranial dysfunction.
It is accepted by many that being out of doors (especially on
a sunny day) without glasses or contacts will stimulate and aid
The taking of ACTH or gonadotrophin as a medication should be
looked at and studied particularly with a holistically oriented
physician before it is undertaken. It should be avoided if possible.
is used to treat thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, rhinitis,
colitis, etc. The 1982 edition of the Physicians’ Desk Reference
states, "chronic administration of corticotrophin may lead
to adverse side effects which are not reversible. Corticotrophin
may only suppress symptoms and signs of chronic disease without
altering the course of the disease."
side effects include hypertension, optic nerve damage, cataracts,
muscle atrophy, fetal abnormalities, osteoporosis, peptic ulcer,
convulsions, and headaches.
is a drug obtained from the urine of pregnant females and is used
to induce pregnancy in infertile women. Side effects can include
ovarian enlargements, multiple births, blood clots, and depression.
Oxytocin injections or taken intravenously is used to induce early
delivery, in second trimester abortions, and to control postpartum
bleeding. Side effects have included uterine rupture, fetal and
maternal death, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia, and neonatal jaundice.