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Posts Tagged ‘hippocampus’

“Compared to bipolar’s magic, reality seems a raw deal. It’s not just the boredom that makes recovery so difficult, it’s the slow dawning pain that comes with sanity – the realization of illness, the humiliating scenes, the blown money and friendships and confidence. Depression seems almost inevitable. The pendulum swings back from transcendence in shards, a bloody, dangerous mess. Crazy high is better than crazy low. So we gamble, dump the pills, and stick it to the control freaks and doctors. They don’t understand, we say. They just don’t get it. They’ll never be artists.” ~ David Lovelace

Creativity does seem to feed off emotional turmoil and often in the works of great poets we can feel the soul’s pain and turmoil. In fact, heightened imaginative powers, depression, insomnia, fatigue, rapid thoughts, inflated self-esteem, panic attacks, rage and intense emotions all swim about in an ocean of ever changing moods of heightened creativity and suicidal tendencies.  It is within this ocean that brilliance is born and fed by the storms raging in many artists’ minds.

“I was diagnosed bipolar 6 years ago. I recently decided to come off my meds. I’ll admit it took me a while to cope with certain situations and learn to focus and concentrate on just taking one day at a time. I’ve learned to cope through eating healthy, exercising and trying to get at least 8 hrs sleep a night. It’s no walk in the park, I’ll tell ya. I have to be very strict with myself and stick to my routines. If I’m feeling low and unmotivated I make myself exercise, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I’ve learned this removes a buildup of toxins and gets my happy chemicals moving. I take 6000 units of vitamin D daily and a 100 mgs of a B multi-vitamin twice a day. The doctor gives me injections of vitamin B12 once a month to keep my energies up. It’s very common for individuals with mood disorders to have low vitamin B levels. I also keep close contact with my doctor. I don’t think there is a cure for Bi Polar. I do however think it can be managed. For me it always comes back to quality of life or quantity of life. Everyone is different. Medication helped me when I was very unwell. I’ve learned what works for me.” (Matthew B.)

I do believe we need to find a better way of treating manic depression, rather than through high dosages of lithium and antipsychotic drugs. Even uses of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) and/or stimulants can be linked to the onset of some manic symptoms.  As well, many people on medication for bipolar disorder have complained this kind of treatment has stifled their creative abilities.  Some famous authors suffering from manic depression have said that their suffering is a part of who they are and that without it they couldn’t create. Many turned to drugs and alcohol to counter the effects of their medication or to get relief from their symptoms. In fact people suffering from bipolar disorder are 10 times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than most other people because they turned to these substances to help counter the effects of their medication or to get other relief from their symptoms.

We are all born with genetically programmed instincts, which are located in the primitive brain (limbic system).  The limbic system focuses inward on our survival, our emotions and our nurturing needs. When you feel depressed or anxious, these feelings originate from the limbic system but involve the cortex as well, since depression diminishes our insights and judgments as well as our lack of motivation and attention.

What we think, how we feel, what we assimilate into our beings at every stage of life and at every level has a cumulative affect that directly impacts our states of being, influencing our physical hormones, genetic make-up, neural processing etc. And the condition of our states of physical being also affects our states of mind.

Environmental factors also play a significant role. For example, many people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) later develop bipolar disorder. Repetitive traumas suffered throw the body into a constant state of stress and research shows that stress can induce the hippocampus to remodel itself and shrink. Hormones are also involved. Additional considerations involve head and/or neck injuries.

“World champion boxer Frank Bruno was sectioned for 28 days in a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003 following his marriage break-up. He describes his behavior in the run up to his breakdown: ‘I got confused and snappy and impatient. I couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t function. Losing my wife, seeing my kids less regularly, not eating properly, staying up late, living by myself, getting uptight, wound up, over stupid little things [ … ] It’s like a kettle. I wish I could put a hole in my head and let the steam out.’ “Bipolar Disorder: The Ultimate Guide ~ by Sarah Owen, Amanda Saunders

Although the brain, especially the limbic system is quite complex let’s look at specific areas that are related to our most primitive and potent emotional signals.  It has been proven that the limbic system (emotional reactions and emotional memories) can actually hijack other parts of the brain, especially when so overcome with anger, fear or passion, excitement.  You see the limbic brain jumps in when it proclaims an emergency, even before the neocortex, the thinking brain, has had a chance to reason out what is happening.

“Lithium tweaks many mood-altering chemicals in the brain, and its effects are complicated. Most interesting, lithium seems to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, its inner clock. In normal people, ambient conditions, especially the sun, dictate their humors and determine when they are tuckered out for the day. They’re on a twenty-four-hour cycle. Bipolar people run on cycles independent of the sun. And run and run.” ~ Sam Kean, ~ The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

The brain responds to chemical changes, by adjusting the feelings and thoughts within the physical body. Psychologists have shown us that we can react a whole variety of ways to one single hormone—this mostly depends upon our expectations.  The parts of the brain that are involved in thought, memory and sensations are connected by direct neural pathways with emotional centers—and  with the pituitary gland that controls hormone output.  The pituitary actually suspends from the hypothalamus, which controls emotion, appetite and desire.

There does seem to be a stress loop that connects the adrenal glands, brain, hypothalamus, and pituitary together, which then flows back to the adrenals again, pushing them way out of kilter.  This stress loop also affects the other endocrine glands creating a continual cycle of stress in the body, causing bizarre mood swings, muscle tension, stiffness, eating disorders, depression, heart palpitations, excessive sweating and migraines. Too much cortisol in the blood damages our memories, our learning capabilities and our creativity.  This stress cycle will, if not corrected, eventually affect the immune system.

“If you are suddenly anxious, under threat, or furious about something, your brain via your pituitary gland tells your adrenal glands to pump up production of epinephrine, cortisol and other hormones to put your body into high alert. Once the threat goes away and you “cool off,” the adrenal glands stop their escalation of hormones. However, if your mind ruminates about the anxiety and threatening events, with such thought patterns as “It’s hopeless”; “My life is a disaster”; “things should be different!”, and “This is unfair!” your adrenal glands continue to overproduce cortisol and estrogen. This leads to your pancreas secreting more insulin, and you get symptoms of what is commonly known as “adrenal gland exhaustion.” All is Well ~ Louise L. Hay and Mona Lisa Schulz

Continual high adrenaline (epinephrine) levels cause the repetitive release of insulin increasing carbohydrates to convert to fat in the liver.  Weight gain and obesity add to ill effects to the endocrine system, muscle joints, and digestion, with loss energy and self esteem.  In bipolar people, this is all that is necessary to produce insulin insensitivity and, ultimately diabetes.  These are genuine threats to their health.

“A balance of thyroid hormone in the brain is crucial for maintaining mood stability. If you suffer from a deficit or an excess of thyroid hormone resulting from a dysfunctioning gland, you may even experience clear-cut mood swing disorder. Severe hypothyroidism has even been blamed for causing manic-depression, with poor judgment and hallucinations. Doctors always wonder, however, whether such patients might not have preexisting minor forms of manic-depression, which have become more severe as a result of the thyroid imbalance.

 Hyperthyroidism can also cause mood swings in a person who does not have a preexisting mood disorder. In some people, an overactive thyroid can result in an elated mood called “hypomania” or “mania” depending on whether the elation is moderate (hypomania involves no major behavioral disturbances) or severe (mania is associated with irrational behavior). In some patients, the thyroid condition may not be diagnosed until several years after the onset of the mood swing disorder that it caused  ~ The Thyroid Solution: A Revolutionary Mind-Body Program for Regaining Your Emotional and Physical Health ~ Ridha Arem

LITHIUM AND THE BRAIN

 “Lithium tweaks many mood-altering chemicals in the brain, and its effects are complicated. Most interesting, lithium seems to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, its inner clock. In normal people, ambient conditions, especially the sun, dictate their humors and determine when they are tuckered out for the day. They’re on a twenty-four-hour cycle. Bipolar people run on cycles independent of the sun. And run and run.” ~ Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon

The brain is what helps you to make sense of the world, taking in information from your environment and sending messages throughout your body. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch are not only an essential part of our memories, they help to understand the changes happening around us.  But any change in the brain, even the subtlest change, can have a major impact on our feelings, thoughts and action.

Suppose you were given a chemical that blocked the absorption of the vitamin niacin in your central nervous system. The result would be “instant mental illness,” most likely violence, during which you might smash all the furniture, throw it out the window, then run out into the street and attack a total stranger passing by who had stopped to watch the ruckus.

“For some people, use of antidepressant drugs and/or stimulants can be linked to the onset of some manic symptoms. Research has shown that B complex deficiencies commonly occur in 80 percent of bipolar people. Also, many bipolars are anemic, with low levels of B12 and folic acid, and shown a lower uptake of inositol when compared to a control group. So orthomolecular physicians have now paired the use of lithium with the intake of daily B complex vitamins, which work synergistically with lithium. In this way, high lithium doses can be substantially reduced, thus eliminating many devastating side effects.”  ~ Depression-Free Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue And Anger From Your Life ~ Joan Matthews Larson, Ph.D.

Our blood circulates the love of life from the heart throughout our whole body.  When we are anemic, we are deficient in red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues and removes carbon dioxide.  One of the causes of anemia in manic depressives, is excessive blood cell destruction which can be metaphysically explained as ‘losing one’s will to live. When we feel discouraged, hopeless or helpless we lose touch with our needs and desires—we feel as if we’re withering away.

“The messages we unconsciously give our bodies are thus a determining factor in our state of wellness. Messages based on failure, despair and anxiety are ones that present a negative, dying feeling and will cause the body to react by breaking down the defence mechanisms (that is, the immune system) and preparing for death. Even if our worries and fears are imaginary, the message will still translate into physical illness as our bodies feel endangered and threatened”. ~ Debbie Shapiro ~ The BodyMind Workbook 

Research at the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that bipolar people are hypersensitive to acetylcholine, a chemical that carries memory messages in the brain. They found that cholinergic receptors (the chemical hitching posts on cells that receive acetylcholine) are far more numerous in the brains of manic depressives.

(Acetycholine controls the brain’s speed, creativity, self-esteem, criticism, short-term memory, language, sensory impressions and interpretations, speech, reading and thought. It also controls all muscle contractions.)

One substance that blocks acetycholine is lithium, which we all have in low levels. It is one of the best drugs, at the moment, for treating bipolar depression.  But is it the best treatment?

Psychiatric News outlined the widespread difficulties that lithium causes in an article called “Lithium and Memory Loss.” Besides causing memory loss, the high does of lithium needed to stop manic moods are often toxic to the nervous system, causing tremors in many users. And at high levels lithium suppresses thyroid function and can cause hypothyroidism and mental confusion.

“Scientists have gained insight into why lithium salts are effective at treating bipolar disorder in what could lead to more targeted therapies with fewer side-effects.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313103922.htm

“I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn’t work for me, the answer would be a simple no… and it would be an answer laced with terror.

 But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated…” ~  Kay Redfield Jamison

“Lithium, don’t want to lock me up inside.

Lithium, don’t want to forget how it feels without…

Lithium, I want to stay in love with my sorrow.

Oh, but God, I want to let it go.” ~ – Lyrics from “Lithium” by band EVANESCENCE

NEUROTRANSMITTERS

A neurotransmitter is a brain chemical specifically for communication that happens between brain cells.  It’s incredible that these neurotransmitters can zigzag and flash through the mass of brain neurons at speeds of up to 150 mph carrying your every thought and feelings.  Of the 100 identified, the one’s best known are: acetylcholine, dopamine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin.

Everyday our neuropeptides try to work hard to keep us functioning at a peak performance but chemicals, food colorings, sugar, trans-fats, food preservatives, traffic fumes, second hand smoke, stress, anxiety and lack of sleep slows them down.  One of the best ways to boost your dopamine is exercise, swimming, biking walking and running. Playing board games and computer games help to replenish dopamine too. Walking in nature enhances GABA, and creative writing (poems, songs) help to restore acetylcholine.  Violent movies and loud ‘hard’ music or angry words decrease the production of acetylcholine.

“[An] exciting safe substance that has a lithium-like effect on the brain is the amino acid taurine, which is a calming inhibitory neruotransmitter that naturally blocks the effect of excitatory transmitters like acetycholine. Manic depressives have very low taurine levels when measured in the lab. A taurine deficiency cuases far greater symptoms in women than mean (hypothyroid, lethargy, and depression), and bipolar disorder is twice as common in women. Science also documents hereditary depression in taurine-deficient persons. Taurine has been successfully substituted for lithium (500 mg. three times daily) and, unlike lithium has no side effects.” Depression-Free Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue And Anger From Your Life ~ Joan Matthews Larson, Ph.D.

And from another source…..

“Taurine is an amino acid made in the liver from cysteine that is known to play a role in the brain by eliciting a calming effect. A deficiency of this amino acid may increase a bipolar patient’s manic episodes. In addition, eighty percent of bipolar sufferers have some vitamin B deficiencies (often accompanied by anemia [46]. The combination of essential vitamin supplements with the body’s natural supply of lithium reduces depressive and manic symptoms of patients suffering from bipolar disorder [47]. ~ Functional Foods: The Connection Between Nutrition, Health and Food Science ~ edited by Leah Coles

THE LIMBIC BRAIN

LIMBIC SYSTEM

The main transportation of the nervous system is the brain.  It is the best organized 3 lbs of matter in the known universe.  Tens of billions of tiny nerve cells transmit electrical signals from the nerves to the brain.  And each nerve cell in the brain is connected to many other cells in the brain and is affected by them.  The whole brain hums actively firing in circuits or loops, round and round like a pinwheel, throwing off sparks of energy on each cycle.  Great masses of nerve cells unite together to create a marvelous orchestra which plays thoughts of truth and beauty, which creates creative imagination.

“How do billions of nerve cells within the brain communicate with each other? One way is through the amazing molecules called chemical messengers or neurotransmitters. These substances are made within each nerve cell and are secreted through the synapse, the space between one cell and the next. The “mood pathways” in the brain that we have been referring to consist of the chemical messenger systems that travel through and innervate the prefrontal-limbic complex”. Women’s Moods ~ Deborah Sichel, M.D., and Jeanne Watson Driscoll, M.s., R.N., C.S.

Carl Sagan on the Brain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SHc67Hep48

When symptoms of depression and anxiety occur, they originate from the limbic brain, but they involve the cortex as well, since severe depression is associated with diminished eyesight, poor judgment, lack of motivation and attention—all functions of the higher levels of brain. As the brain evolved over time, the cortex grew larger and we developed the capacity to control our emotions, hold back our anger and modify the impulses coming from the more primitive part of the brain called the limbic.

The cortex is divided into two halves or hemispheres and each holds a different function—though separate, these two halves are joined by a boomerang-shaped band of fibers’ or bridge call the corpus callosum which allows the left-brain and right-brain to talk to each other.

The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and enables us to figure out problems logically, to speak and write, to understand science and numbers.  The right side of the brain controls your left side of the body and is your creative side—this is where your vivid imagination and artistic ability comes from and your love for music.

“Rich connections also exist between the amygdala in the temporal lob of the brain and the stomach. These connections allow our intense emotions—fear, anxiety, anger and rage, threat, intimidation—to be felt in the stomach and abdomen.  Since the amygdala plays an important role in memory, it can also moderate the degree to which adverse or traumatic experiences can produce changes in the GI system.  In animals the amygdala controls whether the animals feel resilient (powerful) or vulnerable in stress situations.  The more helpless the feeling in the face of threat, restraint, and aggression, the greater the individual’s likelihood of developing ulcers”.   AWAKENING INTUITION Mona Lisa Schulz

We are all born with genetically programmed instincts which are located in what’s called the primitive brain or amygdala which in the fight/flight response showers the body and brain with chemicals, quickly turning the stress button ON.  When we sense danger, the autonomic (instinctual) nervous system signals the body to release the hormone adrenaline into the blood stream, providing instant energy to the hearts, lungs, and muscles.  We are pumped up and ready to fight or run.

“A fundamental assumption in this work is that the brain has multiple memory systems, each devoted to different kinds of memory functions. For traumatic memory, two systems are particularly important. For example, if you return to the scene of an accident, you will be reminded of the accident and will remember where you were going, who you were with, and other details about the experience. These are explicit (conscious) memories mediated by the hippocampus and other aspects of the temporal lobe memory system. In addition, your blood pressure and heart rate may rise, you may begin to sweat, and your muscles may tighten up. These are implicit (unconscious) memories mediated by the amygdala and its neural connections”. Joseph LeDoux

HYPOTHALAMUS AND PITUITARY

The hypothalamus controls the autonomic nervous system, regulating temperature, water metabolism, reproduction, hunger and thirst, and our state of alertness. It’s responsible for turning the stress switch on in the body—stimulating the fight or flight reaction, raising the blood pressure, the heart rate, and breathing rate—it also has centers for emotions: anger, fear, pain, and pleasure.

Connected to the hypothalamus, and continually influencing it are the ‘higher’ centers of the brain which give us our senses, memory, creativity and thought.  So theoretically, our hormone cycles could be controlled by the power of pure thought.

The pituitary gland hangs like a little round bag from the hypothalamus and controls the total balance of hormones in the body. We have come to call it the Master Gland of the body, also known as the ‘seat of the mind’. Its frontal lobe regulates emotional thoughts such as poetry, art and music, and the anterior lobe regulating concrete thought and the analytical mind.  You could say it is our mission control center that continually sends messages to all the other glands in our body and regulates our sexual development.

Hormones, like the rest of our bodies are created from the food we eat. In order to create all the hormones we need in sufficient quantities, we have to get enough of the nutrients they’re composed of and to make enzymes and other substances that affect the production, metabolism and functioning of our hormones.

When we are reacting to either food, or a situation, or a person, or to the weather, we are actually responding to a signal that started from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland.  The signal may be in the form of comfort or discomfort, but if we could learn how to listen to these signals that are being sent to us, all the time from within us, then, we’d realize that these signals affect our moods, our behavior, our perceptions, our tastes, our habits, our attraction to other people, our appetites, our urges and so on.  Knowing your body/mind, allows you to ‘tune’ into yourself and of course to others. This allows the pituitary to analyze situations before taking action.

When we’re under stress the brain immediately responds by triggering the release of specific hormones from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal gland areas (HPA axis).  Acute and chronic stress triggers the fight/flight response causing our heart and breathing to increase, and the blood vessels to constrict—adrenaline starts to flow through the body, digestion shuts down as blood is shunted away from the digestive tract and sent to the muscles. Most people after a particularly frightful or angry encounter,feel exhausted. They suddenly feel the need to sleep or pull away from the problem.

During traumatic stress, stress neuropeptides norepinephrine and cortisol disconnect the left-brain “talk” memory systems, but simultaneously turn up the process. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine turns on the domino effect of depression to disease in the body, and acetylcholine turns off the inflammatory cascade.

Elevated levels of adrenaline can also cause an elevation in triglycerides, which are fats in the blood, and elevation of blood sugar…also not good. Elevated levels of adrenaline over time can also cause blood to clot faster (which contributes to plaquing), the thyroid too becomes overly stimulated, and the body produces more cholesterol.

“In the last decade, neurobiologists have reported structural differences in at least two regions of the human brain.  One is the corpus callosum, the mind’s big “telephone” cable, connecting as it does hundreds of millions of neurons between the two hemispheres.  The other is the hypothalamus, the master controller for the integration of many basic behavioral patterns from temperature regulation and appetite to sex drives—involving brain and endocrine functions, Neuroendocrine research also strongly indicates that nervous system differences begin as sex hormones bathe the developing fetus in the womb.  Hormonal differences continuing through childhood—and perhaps even through adult life—affect brain activity and guide performance.  Other studies suggest that men and women may process the same information differently and yet come to the same of similar conclusion.”  Kathryn Phillips

Cortisol stays in the body longer than adrenaline, interferes with digestion and suppresses the immune system allowing tumors if present, to grow faster. Cortisol can create a fearful, threatened feeling that overstimulates our whole system. Unexplained muscle aches, chronic headaches, feeling hopeless or helpless and crying more than usual are signs of chronic overarousal. Anxiety coupled with cortisol has been known to cause unexplained heart palpitations, a nervous stomach, road rage and short temperedness.)

The pituitary happens to sit quite comfortably just above the sphenoid bone, which looks very much like a throne made of wings. Side by side these wings have long been referred to as the ‘Swan’, (although to me they look more like the wings of a bat) and in Grail lore the Swan is symbolic of the fully enlightened being. This is the ultimate realm of consciousness achieved by the medieval Knights of the Swan, such as Perceval and Lohengrin. One of the functions of the sphenoid is to solidify and stabilize our digested memories and patterns with the imagination so that we are able to do what we call visualizing, or inner seeing.

For further information on the pituitary and endocrine glands go here

THE PINEAL GLAND

Resembling a pine cone, the pineal gland, located just above the pituitary gland, secretes the hormone melatonin, a light sensitive hormone known to affect sleep, mood and the reproductive cycle.  Usually levels of this hormone rise at night and subside at dawn. In Part I of this series we learnt that melatonin is associated with Season Affective Disorder (SAD) especially in the darker seasons like Autumn and Winter.

The pineal gland acts in two ways to inhibit the action of the pituitary gland. First, the pituitary gland is responsible for activating adolescence and the beginning of sexuality, and the pineal gland checks the pituitary gland to prevent premature sexual awakening. Second, human thought is regarded as a result of suspended action, and the pineal gland holds back your thoughts from charging recklessly into action. It says whoa slow down and think about the chain of reactions and repercussions caused by the thoughts you want to put into action.   It forces you to submerge (like a submarine whose captain yells dive, dive) deep into your own  subconscious waters, using the perascope to see into your thoughts regarding the surface of your outer reality.  When the external world disappears, we fall back into ourselves, kind of like a falling star or a deep sea diver.  Our whole energy pattern contracts because we’re tuned into our own station.  When we plug into our own broadcast, it magnetizes  “spiritual light” like a beacon stimulating the pineal gland to stand straight up attracting and releasing a tremendous amount of powerful energy!  In order for your desire, good or ill to manifest, the pineal gland must join together with the pituitary to create an eclipse, a conjunction, a merging of these two glands creates an opening  what mystics have called the third eye (a higher form of intelligence)

THE SEAT OF ALL PASSION – THE AMYGDALA

The amygdala’s main role is emotion, including what we call intuition. It plays a major role in dreaming, and religious and spiritual experience, Including telepathy and ESP.

“Our world is only one in a cluster of consecutive worlds, arranged like the layers of an onion. Even though we have been energetically conditioned to perceive solely our world, we still have the capability of entering into those other realms, which are as real, unique, absolute, and engulfing as our own world is.” Carlos Castenadas ~ The Art of Dreaming

In the human brain, the amygdala normally filters out most of reality, yet, when its hyperactivated, you will suddenly be able to experience what is normally filtered out—you will suddenly be able to see and taste sound, you can feel colors, and you can experience realms of reality that are normally suppressed.

When bipolar individuals are manic, passion and enthusiasm for life is not without its dangers.  When the amygdala is in a hyperactive state, manics can be carried along in a reckless pace. When passion veers out of control they experience a highly unrelaxing force that when it overwhelms them, their sense of true passion is lost.

“Then, as time rolls on, my head really speeds up; ideas are moving so fast they’re stumbling over each other and I begin to get this sense of power–power over other people. I begin to feel that what I think and do is of significance to those around me, even to the universe at large. I think of myself as having special insight, as understanding things that others do not, and with a special capacity to lead. I recognize now that these are warning signs.”  ~ Stephan Szabo

The amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the limbic brain is also the brain’s alerting system to stressful and emotional situations. When triggered by stress or anxiety, it alerts several bodily systems—the gut, skin, heart, muscles, eyes, face, ears, and adrenals to be on the lookout for incoming stimuli.  The amygdala notes threats in the environment and decides whether you should freeze, run or fight for your life.  Imprinted onto the amygdala’s memory are massive fears and traumatic incidents that affected you since your birth (even registering unbearable pain in others).  Many of your fears were instigated by your parents in the very early part of your life ‘before’ you developed your ability to think things through.

The amygdala controls the production of neurotransmitters, *serotonin and norepinephrine—low serotonin levels cause us to be impulsive, aggressive, anxious, restless, and depressed—exhibit compulsive habits including overeating and drug and alcohol abuse.

The more active the amygdala becomes, the more you’ll struggle to keep your emotions steady. You may get mad at people for no reason and replay memories and conversations in your head that happened years ago. It’s like every waking moment of your day is spent muttering about something you have no control over.  The amygdala is like a runaway horse, going where it wants, with you barely hanging on—the more you hold on—the more energized the amygdala becomes.  And the stronger the amygdala—the tighter your muscular system becomes and the more tense the mind.

The Amygdala and Hypersexuality

“When that pure, euphoric filling hits I become hypersexual—sex is a no-no word even to the doctors, but we have to talk about it!!!  When I’m manic, I can literally have sex with anything that moves—and the truth is I really couldn’t care less about the other person—it’s a conquest, a game, that’s thrilling and fun—a game that can last for hours or days!!  My biggest problem with this is—I’m married!!” (Bipolar woman) 

“I take antidepressants which is like a chemical neutering because it takes away all my sexual desires. (Peter T.)

“When hypersexual I keep myself locked up so i don’t do anything stupid or crazy—it’s like i become very promiscuous and then I feel shameful, dirty and filled with regret”(Susan W.)

“Though hypersexuality may present itself as just one aspect in a constellation of problems, it is often the most destructive and challenging part of bipolar disorder—troubling families of young children suffering from juvenile hypersexuality, ruining marriages, generating life-threatening health problems. “The one thing I regret is what I did to my husband,” says Bev, a middle-aged woman from rural Quebec who was diagnosed with bipolar a few years ago. “He was a good man and we would have had a good retirement together.”http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx/522/opening-the-door-on-hypersexuality

THE HIPPOCAMPUS

“The stress response can also literally poison the brain—because it causes excessive secretion of the adrenal hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is released at about the same time adrenaline is.  However it stays in your system much longer than adrenaline does, and that creates a terrible problem.  Cortisol gives your hippocampus, as well as other parts of your brain, a highly destructive ‘toxic bath’.  It can be so destructive that your brain may never again recover absolutely all of its cognitive function.” Brain Longevity by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth

 The amygdala adjoins the hippocampus, known as the ‘library of short-term memories’ which converts short term experiences into long term memories and then stores them in other parts of the brain.  (Your hippocampus is active right now as your reading this.)

The brain receives up to ten billion pieces of information per second.  Negative emotional shocks such as fear, tension, stress, frustration, anger and guilt are stored in the brain and sorted in order by a nervous structure called the reticulate ‘substance’ or ‘formation’. Metaphysical causes of the body happen when emotional residue pours into your organs causing pain and discomfort.

 “A fundamental assumption in this work is that the brain has multiple memory systems, each devoted to different kinds of memory functions. For traumatic memory, two systems are particularly important. For example, if you return to the scene of an accident, you will be reminded of the accident and will remember where you were going, who you were with, and other details about the experience. These are explicit (conscious) memories mediated by the hippocampus and other aspects of the temporal lobe memory system. In addition, your blood pressure and heart rate may rise, you may begin to sweat, and your muscles may tighten up. These are implicit (unconscious) memories mediated by the amygdala and its neural connections”. Joseph LeDoux

Repetitive traumas will throw the body into a constant state of anxiety and stress causing the hippocampus to remodel itself and shrink. There are studies out there saying that antidepressants help the hippocampus grow new cells in people with Bipolar, PTSD and other emotional traumas.

THALAMUS

The thalamus is the key relay station or distribution center, transporting incoming information from all parts of the nervous system.  It’s important for processing all sensory data (taste, pain and memory) except smell. “Thalamus” means “couch” in Greek: it is where the cerebral hemispheres sit.

When the thalamus isn’t working as it should, it’s most likely because we are feeling disconnected from our ‘true self’. When we lose touch with our authentic self we feel as if everything in life is piling on top of us.  Life is messy, chaotic and very confusing. This loss of self is an underlying problem with several types of addictive and compulsive disorders such as alcohol and mind alerting drugs.

There is no doubt the earth’s changing energies are intensifying our emotions and feelings. The news tells this to us daily with more and more violent crimes. More antidpressant pills are being taken more than ever. More people are in prison, and more people suffer from serious mental illness than ever before.  I think the root of our problems are literally from anything that upsets the safety of our world—a world that is continually changing.  The earth’s magnetic field has a mutual relationship with both the sun and moon and with all the life forms of the ‘biosphere’ (plants, bacteria, fish insects, mammals).  Although this field is subtle it influences the behavior of every living organism.  We are no exception as we contain an auric field generated by the beating of our hearts and by all our body processes…but our body rhythms respond to fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field—and our bodies are polarized—the head end negative and the tail or feet positive—similar to a battery.

“Fleeing the raw, wounded places in ourselves because we don’t think we  can handle them is a form of self-abandonment”. John Welwood

If you grew up in a troubled family, more than likely you had to hide your true self to survive and what we call the ‘false self’ dominated most of your life. You soon learned that you could never win the full approval of your parents, no matter how much effort you put forward.  Nothing was ever good enough and you never felt quite accepted and you never learnt to accept yourself either—everything you did was a perfect performance for someone else.  This mask is who we pretended to be in an atmosphere of abuse or neglect from within or, later, outside the family.

I do believe, though, that the ‘child within’ still has needs, and from time to time will peep out or show itself through manic behaviors or violent explosive emotions—often hurting the child or someone else.  If these behaviors continue, they could result later in life as eating disorders, compulsive gambling, religious addiction, workaholism, mental illness and family violence.

INTRODUCING PART III ~ Bipolar

Inside each of us is a variety of subpersonalities (archetypes) (eg., the hero, the victim, the nurturer) that contribute to how we respond to life experiences.

In Part III on Manic Depression we’re going to look at astrological charts of three different people diagnosed with manic depression who’ve worked very hard on  themselves and continue to do so through the aid of self-help groups, books, divination, therapies and frequent visits to their doctors.

We’re going to look at several different aspects, including the association of the moon with one’s home, family life and mother, motherhood and long-term bonds and behaviors.  Anatomically the moon represents the stomach, thus it emphasizes a direct link between what we eat and how we feel. It also provides clues to what may be “eating” at us. Psychology rarely studies the role the moon and how it plays in respect to changing moods or the sensations these give rise to, especially with people with bipolar.  Each of us responds to the moon’s cycle in our own unique way and looking at the moon phases, we can learn from them.

Astrology and numerology are a form of divination containing an internal communication network providing us with clues to our mental, physical, and emotional framework; they help us understand our body’s present state including all its past history. Step by step they point us in the right direction, guiding us through the healing process.

To be continued….

ravenstarshealingroom@gmail.com

Great Links….

This blog takes you to into the heart of a bipolar  https//bruisedbybipolar.wordpress.com

Excellent Lecture on the Limbic System ~ Sex, Hallucinations, Emotions, Memory, PTSD, Amygdala    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7nXiXQb2iM   

What is Lithium   http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?  Section=About_Medications&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=51&ContentID=20820

Bipolar Disorder and Highly Sensitive People    mentalhealthtalk.info/bipolar_hsp

Bipolar Disorder and Brain   http://www.brainexplorer.org/bipolar_disorder/Bipolar_Disorder_Aetiology.shtml

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INTRODUCING THE SEVEN ENDOCRINE GLANDS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS

“During the course of our research into the role of the chakras in health and disease, over 200 cases were observed clairvoyantly, and in a large number of these the disease was found to be related to the endocrine glands…..

Studies of the etheric chakras showed that whenever there were severe abnormalities in their colors, rhythm, direction of movement, brightness, form, elasticity and texture, this indicated a serious condition, probably resulting in the development of the disease, either in the endocrine glands related to that center or in that part of the body to which the center provides energy.” The Chakras and the Human Energy Fields by Shafica Karagulla, Dora Van Gelder Kunz

It is no secret that the endocrine glands have an intimate connection with the chakra system. The seven chakras or centers of energy have been seen as whirling cone-shaped vortices, which receive and distribute vital energy (lifeforce/prana) throughout the physical body. Each chakra also corresponds to a different endocrine gland and these glands govern specific parts of the physical body and areas of psychological and spiritual development. We know from the previous articles in this blog, on the subtle anatomy that the physical body has an aura of subtle fields known as the etheric, astral (mental/emotional) and causal bodies. We also know that damage to one or more of the subtle bodies through physical or emotional trauma can filter down from the aura to the etheric and physical level, creating a wide range of physical and mental ailments. All four levels of being, (etheric, astral, causal and physical body) are supposed to work together, encouraging and supporting each other.

More and more, science is proving what the mystics and ancient healers have been trying to tell us: there is no separation between the etheric system, endocrine system, nervous system, blood system and immune system; they all interact together at many levels. Each one spins a web of connectors not only to each other but to every other being and with the universe as well. Throughout our lives we learn by trial and error about our own physical presence on this earth and the effect that our presence has with others.

“The importance of this glandular system cannot be over-estimated. It is a replica in miniature of the septenary constitution of the universe and the medium of expression and the instrument of contact for the seven ray forces, the seven Spirits before the Throne of God. Around this at present unrecognized truth the medicine and the healing methods of the future civilization will be built.” Alice Bailey, Esoteric Healing

The day you were born, your spirit descended into matter, ready to face a new set of circumstance, or circumstances similar to those of a previous life, if the lesson had not been learned. At the moment of your birth, your body chemistry was set, directly related to the position of the planets at that point in time. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, (main controller of the endocrine system) react to your thoughts, emotions and knowledge (placement of the planets, houses), that let the other glands know what the brain is planning and wanting the body to do. These special glands also have a thinking capacity all their own, you could say, that our endocrine system is an amazing group of different beings, each with their own history and experience, each with their own attitude, emotions and responses. With no exception, these glands are united by a very strong bond and linked by a shared history, each reacting to the other by way of the nervous system (mediated by neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and neurohormones). They are constantly eavesdropping on your thoughts and feelings and listening to the conversation you are having with yourself—every second of your life!

If you are familiar with the many Edgar Cayce readings, (the sleeping prophet) he stated the endocrine glands are repositories of past life memories emotionally charged and repressed. As we become more aware of ourselves, through dreams, meditation, self-healing, astrology, etc., these past memories come to the surface, appearing as symbols, giving us clues to hidden parts of our personality and to emotional problems/illnesses we are experiencing in this lifetime.

The endocrine system is made of glands situated throughout the body that secrete hormones or chemical messengers directly into the bloodstream. Circulating around the body in the blood, they continually bathe our tissues, stimulating changes in body cells. Each hormone has a variety of different effects, depending on the cells they are acting upon. Each gland and its chemical function has a part to play in the whole and with its own personality, character and agenda. The endocrine glands contain hidden aspects of yourself, which at times we all have had trouble seeing or accepting.

“Hormones are essentially tiny chemical messengers that spark communication processes throughout your body. They play an enormous role in influencing almost every aspect of your well-being, including your thoughts and feelings. Whether you feel the need to sleep, warm up, cool down, eat jelly beans, grab a coffee or have a quickie, your desires and actions can be traced back to your hormonal activity.” Dr. Natasha Turner

When we are reacting to either food, or a situation, or a person, or to the weather, we are actually responding to a signal that started from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland. The signal may be in the form of comfort or discomfort, but if we could learn how to listen to these signals that are being sent to us, all the time from within us, then, we’d realize that these signals affect our moods, our behavior, our perceptions, our tastes, our habits, our attraction to other people, our appetites, our urges and so on. Knowing your body/mind, allows you to TUNE into yourself and of course to others. This allows the pituitary to analyze situations before taking action.

The most powerful chemicals created in the body come from the endocrine glands. This highly complex and sophisticated system is…. “controlled by the nervous system through the hypothalamus. This structure at the base of the forebrain has intimate connections with the pea-sized pituitary gland, to which it is adjacent. The pituitary gland releases a great variety of hormones that fan out within the body, stimulating actions in the other endocrine glands. In this sense, the pituitary is known as the master gland of the endocrine system, although the hypothalamus is the real power behind the throne”. Wayne Weiten

THE PITUITARY is a pea-sized gland that hangs like a little round bag from the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls emotion and appetite. Though the pituitary is tiny in size, it plays a major role in the functioning of your whole bodily system. It is constantly influenced by the higher centres of the brain, which give us our senses, memory, creativity and thought. It governs the lower base of the brain, the ears, nose, left eye, medulla and nervous system. Its color is indigo and its note on the musical scale is “A” .

Astrologically, the planets I associate with the pituitary is Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter, for its wisdom and intuition and Saturn for its intelligence and reason. This idea seems to works well with the 6th chakra, known as the Ajna or ‘Third Eye, which when opened represents telepathy and knowing. This chakra is depicted with two indigo lotus petals, one representing the ego self and the other, the spiritual self. It is at this centre that the masculine and feminine energies merge, initiating a spiritual awakening. The pituitary points to the earth and is our connection between spirit and earth, it is the ‘meeting place’ of both body and mind.

The pituitary produces nine hormones of its own and regulates our sexual characteristics, growth, blood pressure, fertility, metabolism and numerous other activities. It takes its orders from the hypothalamus, stimulating the other 6 endocrine glands (pineal, thymus, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, and sex glands) through the autonomic nervous system to produce their hormones. (The autonomic nervous system is a part of the nervous system that is ‘not’ under our conscious control—it is responsible for certain functions such as heart rate, breathing and muscular contractions of the internal organs)

An unbalanced pituitary can affect the performance of the pineal, thyroid, thymus, adrenals, ovaries, and testes glands, causing one’s whole life to be affected. When our brain is thrown badly out of balance from a hormonal imbalance, everything can go out of control. We’re going to do an extensive study on the endocrine system and the emotional/physical effects they have on the body. We’ll look at weight gain (obesity), Cushing’s disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), depression, bi-polar, prostrate problems, asthma, allergies, insomnia, diabetes, heart problems, cancer, Cushing’s disease, etc., but first we need to know and understand the performance of each one and how they work together.

Our hormones are constantly rising and falling, caught up in the fluctuations of the earth’s natural cycles (spring, summer, fall, winter) and, our own fluctuating thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes about ourselves. The PINEAL GLAND (so-called because it looks like a pine cone), is associated with the crown chakra or ‘third eye’ (clairvoyance, vision) which is related to our personal understanding of the universe and spirituality. It responds to light. This light not only reflects our vital energy, it also reflects the Light of wisdom, compassion, healing and understanding. When the pineal is active and healthy, we become sensitive to the higher frequencies of light and subtle energy bodies.

The pineal gland is situated just above the ears and adjacent to the eyes, at the center of the brain. Esoterically, the pituitary gland points to the earth; the pineal gland points upward to spirit. This endocrine gland responds positively to the musical note ‘B’, the color violet and associated with the planet Neptune. The reason I chose Neptune is because of its association with empathy, inspiration and insight, bliss, romance, spiritual yearning and even hallucinations, loss of identity and mental confusion. Both Neptune and the pineal gland are associated with dreams and with the chemical known as melatonin.

During the day, the pineal gland releases the hormone serotonin and at night the hormone melatonin. Serotonin keeps us awake during the day, it influences our appetite, boosts our energy levels and makes us feel relaxed and good about ourselves. If serotonin levels are low, you’ll find yourself craving for sweets or constantly wanting to binge on foods. We tend to eat to make ourselves feel better…and it works because the more carbohydrates we eat, our serotonin levels go up! The problem is, the more weight we put on, the more serotonin it takes to elevate our mood.

Low levels of serotonin have been linked to such conditions as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel, overeating, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive behavior, autism, PMS, migraine headaches, schizophrenia and even erratic behavior.

Melatonin is secreted when darkness falls. It makes us drowsy, calm and ready for sleep. Production of this hormone usually occurs while you’re sleeping. If you sleep with a light on or light floods into your room, it can effect the production of melatonin. Melatonin also works with the growth hormone from the pituitary gland. As you sleep and your body cools, growth hormone is released into the bloodstream, repairing tissue, skin, bone and muscle, preparing you for a new day.

But too much melatonin (usually winter months or in areas with little sun) can affect our personality, sexual and reproductive functions as well as our appetite. It has been associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is known to create symptoms of lethargy, irritability, overeating, low self-esteem and mood changes…it’s where we just want to sleep all day.

Melatonin is mainly found in the brain, skin, heart and genitals. It can affect mood swings, menstrual cycles, estrogen levels, sperm levels and ovulation. When too much of this hormone is in our system, during daylight hours, we can suffer mental confusion and depression, insomnia, nightmares, skin problems, fertility problems and many other health complications. People suffering from these ailments tend to have large amounts of cortisol, a hormone produced from the adrenal glands, in their bloodstream. Too much cortisol has toxic effects to the billions of nerve cells in the brain, particularly the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is particularly vulnerable to stress and stress hormones. Some researchers have reported that high cortisol levels are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease…..While cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, they often soar when a person is faced with a stressful situation. Studies have shown this stress also affects memory….[for instance] people taking cortisone pills which change into cortisol in the body were not good at remembering a list of words as people taking placebo pills.” The Encyclopedia of Alzheimer’s Disease by Carol Turkington, Deborah R. Mitchell

The pineal gland is a biological clock and is highly sensitive to the solar activity of the Sun as well as the Moon’s phases. Our bodies operate on a 24 hour clock, regulated by sunlight, which controls the day/night levels of serotonin and melatonin. As we know, melatonin is important in regard to the health of our immune system as well as the healing process, which takes place while we sleep. Melatonin declines as we age. This is possibly because the pineal gland slowly withers and calcifies as we grow old. Taking melatonin supplements can help but too much can cause some negative side affects, interfering with the natural rhythms of the body. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, breath work and other spiritual practices not only help to regulate the serotonin/melatonin balance, they also help us to understand there is a life force, an energy that flows through us. They also help us to develop our spiritual sight and keep the pineal gland and endocrine system healthy and strong.

From the endocrine glands in the brain (hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal) we move down to the THYROID GLAND located in front of the neck below the adam’s apple, larynx or voice box. Its two sides look very much like the wings of a butterfly. This endocrine gland responds to the musical note ‘G’, the color blue and sits in the 5th or throat chakra. The throat chakra rules the arms, hands, throat, mouth, voice, lungs, cervical vertebrae and respiratory system. Not only does this chakra govern communication, willpower, truthfulness and creativity, it provides a link or bridge between the spirit and personality. If you suffer from sore throats, dental problems, speech impediments and the inability to express yourself creatively, this chakra may be imbalanced. A weak or overpowering voice, problems listening to others and hearing and speaking the truth are indications this chakra is blocked too. The neck is the link between the mind and body.

“The throat center is the organ specifically of the creative WORD. It registers the intention or creative purpose of the soul, transmitted to it by the inflow of energy from the ajna center; the fusion of the two energies, thus brought about, will lead to some type of creative activity. This is the higher correspondence to the creativity of the sacral center. In that center the negative and the positive creative energies are embodied in the separate male and female organisms and are brought into relation in an act of creation, consciously undertaken, though as yet without much definite purpose.

The dense physical externalization of this center is the thyroid gland. This gland is regarded as of supreme importance in the well-being of the average human being of today. Its purpose is to guard health, to balance the bodily equilibrium in certain important aspects of the physical nature, and it symbolizes [155] the third aspect of intelligence and of substance impregnated with mind. It is in reality connected with the Holy Ghost, or the third divine aspect in manifestation, “over-shadowing” (as the Bible expresses it), the Mother, the Virgin Mary. The para-thyroids are symbolic of Mary and Joseph and the relation they hold to the over-shadowing Holy Ghost. It will eventually be determined that there is a close physiological relation existing between the thyroid gland and the pineal gland, and between the para-thyroids and the two lobes of the pituitary body, thus bringing into one related system the entire area of the throat and of the head.” Esoteric Healing by Alice Bailey

The thyroid gland is one of the most sensitive organs in the body producing hormones that control the metabolic processes in all the cells of the body. These hormones have an impact on your energy, muscle strength, growth and development, and nervous system.

“This gland is not only involved in keeping our hormones aligned, it also keeps all the organs in the body balanced and running smoothly. It also regulates our metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

An illness in the body could indicate a thyroid problem. Also, if your autoimmune system is out of whack this can also be the thyroid. Hormone failure can also indicate problems with the thyroid, adrenals and ovaries. Thyroid dysfunction is NOT something to ignore. If you suspect a problem, please check it out before more harm is done.”

I wrote this in a previous article called Zooming in on the Thyroid. Clicking on the link https://ravenstarshealingroom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/zooming-in-on-the-thyroid/ will guide you to this article and help to understand how the thyroid works and the different illnesses caused when it is out of balance (e.g., hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, weight problems, ADD/ADHD, high cholesterol, tonsillitis, speech problems such as struttering, goiter, dwarfism and problems with excess estrogen, etc.)

Another link on the thyroid in this blog is here https://ravenstarshealingroom.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/emotionally-psychologically-and-spiritually-decoding-the-thyroid/

Stress, illness and poor diet can easily affect the thyroid gland. The thyroid uses foods such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals as fuel. This gland coverts food into energy, not only controling the body’s growth and temperature, it also controls every cell in the body as well. Your skin, complexion and even your outward appearance is affected by the thyroid. It’s the engine of your body and when it goes into low gear, the whole body is affected.

The astrological planet I’ve associated with the thyroid is Mercury. The reason I chose Mercury is because of the 5th chakra’s involvement with mental development. It’s also related to thoughts and belief patterns you use in when communicating, your indentity and your creativity. Mercury in the positive sense is about flexibility and adaptability to understand a variety of different options and reaction to change. In mythology Mercury was known as the quicksliver mind; he was imaginative, communicative and as Carl Jung said, able to get one in touch with his or her creative gifts. Mercury also had the ability to touch the unconscious and spirit as well. Clarivoyance and telepathy can be developed in this area.

We now move to the PARATHYROID GLANDS, four very tiny small shaped discs embedded in the back of the thyroid gland with one behind each of the upper and lower poles of the ‘thyroid wings’. Interestingly, the parathyroid glands and the pancreas (organ and a gland) are not controlled by the pituitary, they act independentally, which means they are not influenced by any ‘outside’ stimulus. The parathyroid glands, like the thyroid respond to the musical note ‘G’ and are situated at the 5th or throat chakra area. Right now I’ve associated Mercury with the parathyroid glands. The reason being, Mercury is the planet that controls your metabolism. If your metabolism is high, your bodily system is dominated by the adrenal system and the thyroid. If your metabolism is slow, it’s dominated by the parathyroid gland and the pancreas and the sedating hormone calcitonin. When the parathyroids are active, the heart rate slows down, decreasing oxygen supplies, metabolism and energy.

“Your parathyroids support your pancreas, liver and ovaries and are regulated to calm down your thyroid.” Pamela Levin

From the above statement we begin to understand that the parathyroid and thyroid actually work in opposition to each other, for example, in color healing orange stimulates the thyroid gland but depresses the parathyroid glands….indigo stimulates the parathyroids and works as a depressant for the thyroid. But when these two are balanced like a see-saw or teeter totter affect, they work together to make sure the calcium levels in your blood are balanced.

The parathyroid glands also affect one’s mental development and polarity in the body. The parathryoid glands secrete parathormone (parathyroid hormone, PTH) that controls the body’s calcium levels in the blood, which are important for healthy bones and teeth and proper brain function. When calcium levels drop, the parathyroids go into action by secreting parathormone. Parathormone signals the kidneys not to flush calcium out in the urine. If there is too much calcium in the blood it can affect our nerves, cause hand spasms (tetany) in some people, or even depression, tiredness and irritability. Sometimes the cause is just from taking too many calcium supplements, other times it can be caused by a much larger issue. The parathyroids are often overlooked by doctors. The parathyroids out of whack can cause body weakness, nausea, constipation, thirst and even possibly kidney stones. Since alternative healers are not allowed to diagnose, we usually recommend a client see their doctor and have blood tests done on his or her hormone levels.

Below the thyroid and situated just above the heart sits the THYMUS GLAND. The thymus gland’s main function is to produce hormones that guard against infection and keep your immune system strong. This gland reaches its maximum size in early childhood and begins to shrink as we mature in age.

The thymus gland can indicate the all around condition of the endocrine system and is related as well to how rapidly we age. Even though it does shrink as we mature it continues to produce hormones against the many viruses, bacterias, parasites that invade our system. In fact, as you’ve been reading this article, you body has already created around four million new immune cells and hundreds of thousands of antibodies which are now coursing through your bloodstream. Even if you are a healthy person, there may be thousands of viruses in your blood and only a few of these are known by scientists and doctors.

It’s only been recently this gland has been explored more. One reason is that it was thought to be only involved in the growth process and the development of immunity in childhood. Now there is more research being done on this gland which has been given the name, ‘the throne of immunity’. It has also been called the ‘gateway to the chakras’ and other endocrine glands because of the intense interchange of energy between the etheric system and the physical body.

“The thymus gland produces T-cells, which deal with bacteria, viruses, parasites, cancers, allergies, and release the T-cells into the blood system. It also produces specific hormones that help deal with infection and immunity. When excessive stress or trauma cause an increase in hormones released by the adrenal glands, these in turn inhibt the production of the thymus hormones, leaving you more susceptible to infection and illness.

The thymus is also known as the seat of fire because of its close connection to the heart. For instance, when you are in love, feel confident or have an open and positive frame of mind, you will find it quite hard to get ill, as your T-cell count will be high. Conversely, when you feel depressed, lonely, or sad, your T-cell count drops and you can catch cold or get ill quite easily.” Deb Shapiro

Our immune system is not totally controlled by the brain and pituitary gland. It is a sensory organ as well, transmitting chemical messages about bacteria, viruses, harmful chemicals, dead tissue, dust and even cancer cells which spontaneously arise every day in everybody and must be disposed of.

The word thymus in Greek means soul or personality, which fits well, atrologically, with the brilliant clear light of the Sun, the ‘core’ of your self-expression and personal identity. The thymus gland responds to the Musical Note F.

The PANCREAS lies behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes to break down carbohydrates, fat, proteins and acids. It produces insulin to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. Our brains run best when the amount of glucose (digested sugar) in the blood is balanced with the amount of oxygen. It is the pancreas’ job to produce insulin in order to escort this glucose into cells where it can be ‘burned’ and use as fuel for energy. Insulin also helps the muscles and other tissues to obtain the sugar needed for their activity. Too much sugar, can damage its ability to function.

“…..sugar depletes the body of specific nutrients including B complex vitamins, magnesium, chromium and other minerals. Ingested sugar destroys the germ killing capacities of the white blood cells for approximately four hours.” Dr. Jacqueline Krohn, The Whole Way to Allergy Relief and Prevention

Sugar isn’t all bad. The body, genetically and evolutionarily was designed to crave sweets….the main reason for this is because it doesn’t or hasn’t the ablity to manufacture vitamin C. In the study of primitive man, we learnt they not only hunted animals but gathered berries and fruits as well. Fruits and berries gave them the fuel they needed for energy as well as vitamin C and also the fibers present in fruit. But in our day and age, we consume sugar in hundreds of different forms (e.g., cereals, snacks, cakes, juice, ice-cream, carbonated drinks) and too much sugar can cause the body to go into crisis mode.

When we consume sugar, insulin is released from the pancreas, usually a small amount is all that’s needed to do the job. Under normal circumstances, our sugar levels flunctuate all the time, but when we eat a sugar loaded meal or snack, the pancreas panics and overreacts, producing large amounts of insulin. We still get that sudden burst of energy but the high insulin production drops it just as quickly lowering our sugar levels to below average, creating a condition called hypoglycemia. If there’s too much insulin in the blood, it can cause a condition called hyperinsulinemia. This condition can lead to problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.

Insulin also influences the sodium levels in our body and too much can cause us to retain water causing our bodies to swell. An excess of insulin in men can cause their testerone levels to be converted to the feminine hormone estrogen which increases fatty deposits in the abdomen and breasts…this is caused by an enzyme called aromatase which is stored in the body’s fat cells. It can also cause hair loss and affect their sex drive. In woman, too much insulin and the same enzyme, aromatase can cause their estrogen levels to covert to testosterone. This too increases fat stored in the abdomen as well as their breasts to sag and shrink; acne, and abnormal hair growth is also possible, especially in the facial area.

“The need to be loved is a secret hunger for the Pancreas. Eating is a social act that has deep emotional meanings. Early in life food somehow got mixed up with love and caring — we started eating because we felt undernourished and/or didn’t get enough nurturing. There are also some of us who eat to feed the hungers caused by stress or loneliness. All this has an impact on our pancreas, affecting our energy, our attitudes and blocking our metabolism.

The Pancreas is also extremely vulnerable to intense emotions and feelings caused by a reaction to an outer event. In fact both the spleen and pancreas react to serious events that can affect us for life. These two organs absorb most of our severe shocks.”

This is quoted from another article I wrote on this blog called https://ravenstarshealingroom.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/diabetes-balancing-the-sweetness-in-your-life/ Reading this may help to understand the metaphysical and physical aspects of the pancreas. The pancreas is connected to the third chakra or solar plexus, responds to the musical note ‘E’ and is associasted with the planet Venus.

“…….Venus represents what you like and dislike. Venus’ cycle comes into play in our astrological chart around 10 months of age. After a lifestyle of the ‘same stuff’ , we start wanting something else.

Venus also represents your sense of ’taste’ what you like and don’t like, and taste is also tied into early memories of what’s nice and not nice, what’s beautiful and not beautiful as well as our Self Worth and Personal Values.”

This is a previous article I wrote on Venus…. https://ravenstarshealingroom.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/how-venus-influences-your-life/

The ADRENAL GLANDS are two small, somewhat flat glands, located at the top oc each kidney in the lower mid-back of your body. The adrenal cortex or outer part of the adrenal gland, is essential for life, producing the hormones adrenaline, cortisol and even sex hormones. These hormones help to balance the levels of salt and potassium in the body, maintain proper blood pressure and keep the kidneys working well.

If we were to take a closer view, the right adrenal gland can look triangular in shape, the left one often crescent shaped. The triangle symbolizes fire, the masculine principle and the Trinity, which represent your aspirations, potentials and truths. The crescent Moon represents the feminine principle and the continual cycle of changes, movement and renewal. Together the adrenals represent the energetic balance of your inner and outer life as well as your emotions. Without the adrenals we would die. They are our strength to continue to push on even when the odds are against us. Unfortunately the stress levels in our lives can takes it toll on these two little glands and buildup up to a danger point causing burnout and a wide range of neurological and physical ailments. Continual high adrenaline levels raise the blood pressure to dangerous levels, which in turn can damage the heart. We’ve already read about cortisol and the dangers it can cause to the hippocampus, causing such illness such as Alzheimer’s.

Bodily stress can come from anywhere, it can be triggered physically, biologically, chemically, psychologically or when the body feels threatened.

“Physiologically, emotions are themselves electrical, chemical and hormonal discharges of the human nervous system. Emotions influence—and are influenced by—the functioning of our major organs, the integrity of our immune defences and the workings of the many circulating biological substances that govern the body’s physical states. When emotions are repressed……this inhibition disarms the body’s defences against illness. Repression—dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm—disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protector.” WHEN THE BODY SAYS NO by Gabor Mate, M.D.

Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS is a motor neuron disease, a stress related illness that causes the nerves that control muscle movement to gradually die. My friend’s mother passed away recently from this terrible disease. I’d like to look at this disease with you, down the road, and its metaphysical causes in reference to the above statement.

In Part 1 of the Endocrine System, we talked of the HYPOTHALAMUS and its close ties with the parasympathetic and the sympathatic systems. It is the nerve fibers of the sympathetic system that ends in the ADRENAL GLANDS. In fact the energy producing systems of the body are the adrenal, thyroid glands, the parathyroid glands and the pancreas. Both the adrenal system and the thyroid gland are dominated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system, which we discussed earlier. We know this system controls our heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, hormonal balance and metabolism. The sympathetic nervous is associated with two hormone stimulants, adrenaline (also known as epinephrine and closely related to norepinephrine) and cortisol. Adrenaline and cortisol are released to bring you to a heatened state of awareness….when they think there is a threat to the body, they sound the alarm! When this happens the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the release of sugar/glucose from the liver, to get your blood pressure up. Your digestive system literally comes to a halt so that all your energy can diverted to the muscles, which become tense and prepared for action. With your nerves on edge, you’re ready to respond to the fight or flight reflex.

“The stress response can also literally poison the brain—because it causes excessive secretion of the adrenal hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released at about the same time adrenaline is. However it stays in your system much longer than adrenaline does, and that creates a terrible problem. Cortisol gives your hippocampus, as well as other parts of your brain, a highly destructive ‘toxic bath’. It can be so destructive that your brain may never again recover absolutely all of its cognitive function.” Brain Longevity by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth

There does seem to be a stress loop that connects the adrenal glands, brain, hypothalamus, and pituitary together, which then flows back to the adrenals again, pushing them way out of kilter. This stress loop also affects the other endocrine glands creating a continual cycle of stress in the body, causing muscle tension, stiffness, eating disorders, depression, heart palpitations, excessive sweating and even migraines. Too much cortisol in the blood damages our memories, our learning capabilities and our creativity. This stress cycle will, if not corrected, eventually affect the immune system.

Exercising, dance, massage, yoga, breathwork, reiki and healing all help to relax the muscles and allow the blood and oxygen levels to return to normal.

Sometimes our most negative emotions such as anger and fear will be extracted by the kidneys causing urinary tract infections and problems with the bladder.

I think most astrologers agree the planet Mars is what rules the adrenal glands. Mars governs our creative force and power, it wants to act on something and respond. Mars is a definite expression of our creativity added with passion, strength and confidence. It is a planet that is self-reliant, brave, instinctual, erotic and willful. Mars is definitely passionate but not exactly tender or always aware of another person’s feelings. The problem with this planet’s warrior-like energy is its impulsiveness. It can get carried away and make hasty decisions and later on regret its actions. The adrenals respond to the musical note ‘C’ on the music scale.

The GONADS or SEX GLANDS (reproductive glands) are among the most subtle and power chemicals in nature. Scientists are still trying to get a handle on how these glands affect the whole human brain-body system. Although scientists are skeptical of the sex glands and the so-called kundalini energy, they can’t deny that male and female energies become heightened, balanced and attuned during orgasm. And although the word sex makes us think of sexual intercourse, the act itself is only a tiny portion of what is known to be sexual. Its energy infuses life and influences everything we do.

“Sexual energy underlies every act of individual expression. It is a creative force, the influence of which extends far beyond sexual activity to include thought, feeling, behavior, dress. Sexual energy informs art, music, fashion, even architecture and automotive design. It is an all-pervading force.” Christopher S. Kilham

Unfortunately, when our sexual energy is blocked or not flowing well, it affects our entire system. Not recognizing or transforming or lifting up this energy can interfere with the body’s naturally healing process and block spiritual development as well. To generate this energy can only be done by the power of one’s will and through intense concentration. Life itself is an array of sensual experiences, if only we would realize our inner potential, we could also actualize our dreams.

Men and women who suffer from hormonal problems most likely suffer from too much or to little testosterone and too much or too little estrogen. Testosterone like estrogen is obtained from a substance called cholesterol (surprised, I was too). We all need cholesterol in our blood to produce DHEA, adrenal and sex hormones. In some cases doctors have worked so hard to reduce a person’s cholesterol, it has interfered with their hormone function and their immunity.

“Many people who take cholesterol lowering medication experience a reduction in their libido; this makes sense as their body is less able to produce sex hormones. Low levels of sex hormones may also contribute to erectile dysfunction and aggravate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as tender, aching muscles…..People with low cholesterol die earlier than those with normal to high levels, and they seem to have higher rates of cancer” Cholesterol, The Real Truth by Sandra Cabot and Margaret Jasinska

But there is also twist in all this, as the liver eliminates toxic estrogens in the form of cholesterol, which can damage the liver. High estrogen levels can also affect the gallbladder and slow down the excretion of bile. In woman this can make them more susceptible to gallbaldder stones than men.

If you are a male with high amounts of testosterone, this too could compromise your immune system, which means you may not be well protected from viruses and bacteria that invade your body. High testosterone levels have also been known to cause narrowing or hardening of the arteries or heart disease and problems with your prostrate. Men are also suffering from too estrogen in their system. The testicles are supposed to produce testosterone and a very small amount of estrogen. But with more animals being fed estrogen-like hormones there is more estrogen being found in a man’s blood. Too much estrogen can affect the muscular system of the body, making them flabbier than usual. High levels of estrogen in men, can also cause weight gain, breast growth, love handles around the waist, headaches, mood swings, hypertension, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s etc…

Low testosterone can also cause heart disease, dry skin, fatigue, loss of muscle tone (especially in the arms and legs), depression, problems making decisions, impotency, sleep apnea, loss of bone density, etc…

In women, estrogen is produced by the ovaries and also in smaller quantities from the adrenal glands and the placenta. Estrogen levels rise each month as a woman begins to ovulate, stimuated by hormones from the pituitary. Progesterone rises after ovulation in hopes of fertilizing the egg and if fertilization doesn’t occur, it falls dramatically and then menstruation begins, caused from the shedding of the uterine lining. Then all this build up again as a woman’s hormone cycle begins again. Many of us woman have suffered from the emotional roller coaster of our hormonal cycles. The dramatic flunctuations of estrogen and progesterone can cause, headaches, cramps, water retention and bloating, swollen breasts, acne, fatique, insomnia, joint pain, as well as overwhelming feelings, moods and depression. All these along with emotional stress have been given the name Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS.

And if that isn’t enough to contend with, we also have to contend with menopause, which causes hot flashes, loss of sexual desire, painful sex as well as vaginal and urinary infections. There is also a link with menopause and heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Both the ovaries and the testes are dependant on and sensitive to the hormones secreted from the hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus communicates with the pituitary and the pineal gland that has been said to control our biological clock. These glands send signals to the body to begin puberty, fertility cycles and sexual arousal. But sometimes certain kinds of stress can make the uterus and ovaries react, having a sudden affect on the pituitary gland’s hormonal production and cause a woman’s menstrual cycle to go completely out of whack.

The gonads or sex glands sit in the 2nd or sacral chakra, but we should add the 1st chakra to them as well. The musical note is ‘D’ and the planet I assocate with this area is Pluto. Pluto represents the subconscious, the underworld, excretion, reproduction, chemical processes, regeneration, cellular change and tissue destruction.

Most of the people I’ve seen in the years have been concerned with weight gain, fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), depression, lack of interest in sex and feelings of being run down. In healing, I’ve been trained in a variety of alternative healings, however Reiki is most definitely at the top of the list and can be used with all types of healing applications. I’ve trained many nurses and massage therapists who find Reiki enhances their healing and intuitive abilities. As well, astrologers, naturopaths, psychics, tarot readers, yoga instructors and many more have found this ancient practice an asset to themselves and their clients. A healthy energy flow enhances and influences our health, affecting everyone and everything around us.

In Reiki, the hand positions are related to the locations of the chakras and the endocrine glands. Reiki energy has an accumulating effect in the endocrine glands, which helps to keep our immune system in top-working order. When enough energy has accumulated, then the chemical reactions of the glands push the immune system into different cycles of the healing process.

When a person has had a long-term imbalance, there is usually not enough energy to trigger the immune system, the “condition” seems stuck, which can have an impact on our health. But, when additional energy is introduced, then the immune system can draw upon it, kicking the body’s defense mechanism into a higher level of healing, breaking up the trapped energy and allowing the body to regain its balance. By doing the specific hand positions with Reiki a practitioner can give the fastest “charge” to the glands that are responsible for maintaining ‘health’, and accelerating the healing process.

I tried my best to explain the endocrine glands in a simple but concise way to help you to recognize these ‘tiny beings’ are an essential part of your health and nature. Out of your own life experiences these glands have documented your habits, attitudes, perceptions, traumas, challenges, feelings, thoughts, memories, and unresolved issues or situations to make you aware of what’s getting in the way of your health and progress. Pain and suffering cannot be avoided no matter how much we try. Pain is a built-in warning mechanism, a wake-up call, telling us something in our lives need to change. It is my and your responsibility to learn what our bodies are trying to teach us so we can avoid illness and continue evolving.

Now that we have studied the endocrine system from the top to the bottom, let’s approach them again in a metaphysical way and study each illness independantly affected by their imbalance. This way we can understand and take the positive steps needed to physically, nutrtionally and psychologically empower and heal ourselves.

Great links….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Z1zsR9lFM&feature=related

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_basics/endocrine.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrMi4GikWwQ

http://www.livestrong.com/stimulate-pituitary-gland/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k-UKR2vGsk

 

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