The human body is like a machine, which is controlled by two major systems: the nervous system and the endocrine system. The nervous systemh elps us to adjust to the external environment with the help of sense organs. The endocrine system brings about changes in the metabolic activities of all the body tissues. These two systems are diverse in their functions, but coordinate their activities so that the internal body harmony and balance is maintained. The Hypothalamus, a major nerve centre in the brain, provides the link between the brain and the endocrine system.
The endocrine glands present in our body make up the endocrine system. The endocrine glands are ductless glands which secrete their hormones into the extra cellular space around the cells. Thereafter, hormones are passed into the capillaries, and then further transported by the blood. These glands do not work independently. Each has a marked influence on the other.
The hormones secreted by the endocrine glands and tissues are in small quantities. The amount of hormone released is determined by the body’s needs. The insufficient quantity (hyposecretion) or excess production (hypersecretion) of hormone, both cause abnormalities in the body. The hormones are specific in their action. The response, brought about in an organism by a particular hormone, cannot be induced by another hormone. Usually, hormones produced in one species show similar influence in other species. The detailed description of the important glands is as follows:
1. Pituitary Gland: It lies in the brain attached to the Hypothalamus by a stalk like structure. Structurally and functionally, it is divided into anterior lobe and posterior lobe. Both the lobes secrete hormones. But the most important hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland is growth hormone. This growth hormone, as the name indicates, helps in growth. If the gland secretes insufficient hormone, it leads to dwarfism. If it is hyperactive and secretes more hormone than required, it leads to another kind of abnormality called Gigantism, in which there is abnormal increase in the length of bones.
Another important hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland is Vasporessin. It controls the amount of water excreted in urine. If the hormone produced is less or insufficient, the kidney tubules cannot reabsorb the water and the person suffers from frequent urination. This is a disease called diabetes insipidus. Apart from the two hormones described here, the pituitary gland produces lot of other hormones which regulate so many body activities. Therefore, it is often referred to as the ‘Master Gland.’
2. Thyroid Gland: The thyroid gland secretes thyroxin hormone. It is an iodine containing hormone which exerts a marked effect on the central nervous system, growth and development. The hormone regulates organic metabolism and helps in energy balance. All protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism is influenced by thyroxin. Since the overall effect is to increase metabolism, they increase the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). The energy produced raises the body temperature. It also affects growth and development and increases the reactivity of the nervous system.
Mineral metabolism takes place with the help of parathyroid gland present on the thyroid gland. Excess release of thyroxin hormone accelerates the body activity, speeding up the heart and making the brain restless. It causes diseases like Exopthalmic Goiter. Less thyroxin leads to apathy and weight gain. It causes diseases like simple goiter. If it is produced in less quantities in children, it causes Cretinism. As iodine is necessary for the formation of thyroxin, it can be added to the common salt to prevent its deficiency. This is necessary in the hilly regions where soil contains very less or no iodine.
3. Adrenal Gland: The body consists of two adrenal glands, each located superior to each kidney fitting like a cap. It is also called ‘Supra renal gland’. Each adrenal gland is structurally and functionally differentiated into two regions: the outer adrenal cortex and the inner adrenal medulla. Each region produces different hormones.
The most important hormone secreted by adrenal medulla is adrenaline or epinephrine. The function of adrenaline is to influence carbohydrate metabolism, increase contractibility of skeletal muscles, help the body to adapt to various extreme influences like overcooling, fasting, trauma, etc. This hormone is called emergency hormone as it prepares the body to face the emergency situations like public speaking. The final dash to win a race is under the influence of adrenaline. This helps in situations like fight or flight.
The adrenal cortex secretes many hormones, the best known is cortisone. In general, the cortical hormone influences carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism and regulates salt and water balance in the body, adapts the body to stresses in extreme heat or cold, burns, inflammation.etc. Certain cortical hormones behave like sex hormones. They are both male and female hormones and occur in both the sexes. If there is an overweight of cortex in young children, this will lead to premature sexual maturity. If there is an overweight of adrenal cortex in a mature woman, she develops certain male characteristics such as beard and deep male voice. The condition is known as adrenal virilism. If the overgrowth occurs in mature men, they may develop some feminine characteristics such as enlargement of breasts.
4. Pancreas: It secretes digestive juices which help in digesting food. It also has special cells called Islets of Langerhans which secrete hormones. The cells are of different types called beta, alpha, and delta cells. The beta cells secrete insulin which is the most important hormone. It promotes glucose utilization by the body cells. It stimulates deposition of extra glucose of the blood as glycogen in liver and muscles.
Insufficient secretion of insulin causes diabetes (Diabetes mellitus). Mellitus means honey, referring to the passage of sugar in urine. A diabetic person has high concentration of sugar in blood which is excreted along with urine. Oversecretion of insulin from the pancreas may show reverse effect. Sugar level in the blood is lowered and the brain may enter a state of coma if the level becomes too low. Glucose is secreted by alpha cells. It stimulates the breakdown of glycogen in the liver to glucose, thus raising the sugar level in the blood. Sometostatin secreted by gamma cells (also secreted by hypothalamus and certain intestinal cells) inhibits secretion of insulin and glucagons.
5. Gonads: Testes and ovaries. Like pancreas, the gonads are also dual in function. In addition to producing sperms and ova, they release certain important hormones called sex hormones. They show their conscious effect at the time of puberty, when secondary sexual characteristics appear. The changes, common in both sexes, include development of hair in the pubic region and in the armpits. Males have testes which produce male sex hormones and females have ovary which produce female sex hormones.
Control of hormonal secretions: The amount of hormone released by an endocrine gland is determined by the body’s need for that particular hormone at any given time. The product of the target tissue exerts an effect on the respective endocrine gland. This effect may be positive (i.e. a message ‘secrete more’) or negative (i.e. a message ‘do not secret more, slow down’). Thymus Gland behind the heart, quite big in children up to the age of 12-14 years, gets reduced in size in adults. It is supposed to be helpful in growth.
6. Pineal Gland: Pineal Gland is also an endocrine gland. The pineal gland has yet to be understood by medical scientists, for they cannot assign any definite physiological function to it. But, yoga and other holistic healers say that this gland is the link between the gross physical body and the more subtle psychic body.
7. Hypothalamus: Though hypothalamus is not part of the endocrine system, it has a great role in the body, as it controls body temperature and pituitary gland. It is present in the forebrain of the central nervous system. It is almost at the floor of the brain and includes an X-shaped optic chiasma, a hollow conical infundibulum, and a hypophysis or pituitary body. Hypothalamus is the seat of regulation of body heat.
Reiki for Control of Endocrine Glands and Hormones
We have already seen the position of seven major chakras and the associated organs in our body. If we observe, we will find that at the position of each chakra in our body, there is an endocrine gland present. As the endocrine glands maintain the coordination in the body, we can term the chakra or the endocrine gland as the energy centre of the body. Listed below are chakras and their corresponding glands.
Sahasra : Pituitary
Ajna : Hypothalamus (Though hypothalamus is not an endocrine gland, it controls the endocrine glands)
Vishuddha : Thyroid gland
Anahata : Thymus gland
Solar plexus : Pancreas
Swadhisthana : Gonads
When we give Reiki energy to a chakra, it means activating the endocrine gland at that place. With Reiki treatment, the endocrine gland receives right amount of energy and becomes balanced to produce right amount of hormone. There is neither ‘hypo’ nor ‘hyper’ secretion. If the hormones are secreted in sufficient quantity, the body maintains good and normal health. No abnormalities are there.