What to Know About Calcification of the Pineal Gland

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on August 10, 2022
3 min read

Your brain contains a small pine cone-shaped gland called the pineal gland. It’s about the size of a grain of rice. However, that size can vary in animals depending on their location. 

‌‌The pineal gland plays the role of controlling your sleep patterns, how you make decisions, and how you perceive reality. The gland produces a hormone called melatonin for these functions. 

For peak performance and psychological development, the pineal gland must remain healthy.

‌This tiny gland serves as your body's light meter. It receives light cues from the eyes, causing it to produce melatonin that sends several hormonal messages to the body. The pineal gland transmits information about the length of daylight, a concept known as circadian rhythm

In other words, it tells the body whether there’s light or darkness, the season you’re in, and the length of days. Research shows the pineal gland also helps in regulating body temperature.

Sometimes, the pineal gland develops calcium spots, also known as calcification. Unlike most of your brain, the blood-brain barriers don’t fully protect the gland from the rest of the body. Instead, it receives a significant amount of blood flow, second only to the kidneys.

The gland is also surrounded by and immersed in cerebrospinal fluid. This causes it to camp out in a tiny area behind the pituitary gland. 

‌The pineal gland is not the only part of the body that can become calcified. The crystals can also form in the joints, heart valves, and breast tissue. Sometimes, calcification impairs the functioning of the affected organ. In the case of pineal calcifications, the gland can become unable to produce melatonin.

Scientists don’t know for sure why calcification of the pineal gland happens, but there are a few theories:

  • Aging: As you age, the pineal gland may calcify. However, some studies have found pineal gland calcifications in infants. This dispels the theory that aging is a contributing factor to pineal calcification.
  • Metabolic activity: Another theory proposes that the more active the pineal gland is metabolically, the higher the likelihood that it will calcify.
  • Chronic conditions: Another theory suggests that if you have certain chronic medical conditions, you have a higher likelihood of developing pineal gland calcification. Calcification of the gland also increases your likelihood of developing chronic conditions like migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.

There is mixed research on the symptoms of pineal calcification and whether it, in fact, causes any symptoms at all. Some potential signs may include insomnia and migraine attacks.

Some research shows that a reduction in the production of melatonin causes older adults to have disruptions in their sleep patterns. For example, they may feel sleepy during the day and stay awake at night.

Another study found no relationship between the size of your pineal gland and sleeping problems. The size of the pineal gland usually reduces with age.

You can preserve the health of the pineal gland by preventing its premature calcification. Alternatively, you may be able to rejuvenate the calcified gland through some of the methods listed below.

To help promote a healthy pineal gland:

  • Create an environment that promotes the proper functioning of the pineal gland: Getting high-quality sleep every night is crucial for optimal functioning. One factor that affects your sleep quality is blue light. It suppresses the production of melatonin for up to four hours. When you go to sleep, your bedroom should beas dark as possible.
  • Indirect sun exposure is essential: Your eyes need indirect sunlight exposure to function correctly. Both the sun and darkness activate the functions of the pineal gland.  It has a photoreceptor that receives light signals, causing it to produce melatonin. But remember, don’t look at the sun directly‌.

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