No longer than a pea, the pituitary gland plays a critical role in the endocrine system, overseeing the function of all the other glands. The pituitary gland is situated beside the hypothalamus area of the brain and attached by nerve fibers. From its seat at the bottom of the brain, it produces hormones vital to life processes. Acupuncture can aid healthy pituitary function. Before seeking complementary or alternative treatment for pituitary conditions, consult with your primary health care provider and an endocrinology specialist.
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Pituitary Gland Issues
Because the pituitary gland produces hormones, problems affecting the gland can disrupt the processes carried out by hormones, including the functioning of the ovary and testes, milk production after pregnancy, skin pigmentation, and the proper functioning of the adrenal gland and thyroid glands. Symptoms that demonstrate irregular hormone levels can indicate pituitary gland problems. The most common cause of pituitary dysfunction is a pituitary tumor.
Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine. Whereas Western science often identifies disease at a cellular level or in terms of contagion, TCM understands disease as an imbalance in vital energy, known as qi. An acupuncturist triggers healing by stimulating specific points of the body with thin needles. These points correspond to energetic pathways, known as meridians, and when activated, they can remove blocked energy or restore balance. Though Western medical science has a different framework than TCM, scientific testing regularly demonstrates acupuncture's effectiveness. With regard to the pituitary gland, one general effect of acupuncture is the release of hormones from the pituitary gland that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Acupuncture and the Pituitary
TCM explains imbalances and disease in terms of contrasting pairs of qualities, such as heat and cold, dampness and dryness, lack and excess. For example, pituitary problems may be explained in terms of lack and excess. Deficiency in the pituitary gland causes distraction, lassitude, a muffled voice, late puberty, enlarged breasts, premature balding, and the retention of water and fat in the skin. Excess in the pituitary gland results in larger than usual nose, chin and feet, tallness, thick hair, abundant urine, small breasts, early puberty and dry skin. Of the many points associated with the pituitary gland, the Spleen 2 is used for increasing height and the Large Intestine 1 is useful for strengthening the pituitary and the thyroid glands.
Multiple scientific studies have identified the potential beneficial effects of acupuncture on pituitary function. Researchers at Shanghai Medical University published a study in "Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutics Research Journal" that found electroacupuncture regularized the secretion of various hormones. According to a 2011 study published in the journal "Cellular and Molecular Biology," acupuncture at the Heart 7 point might reduce anxiety-related disorders caused by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Endocrinology Health Guide: The Pituitary Gland
- MedLine Plus: Pituitary Disorders
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Introduction to Acupuncture
- eMedicineHealth; Medical Acupuncture; Joseph Sciammarella
- "Chinese Acupuncture;" Georges Soulie de Morant; 1994
- "Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutic Research;" Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis; B.Y. Chen; 1997
- "Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology;" Effect of Acupuncture on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal System in Maternal Separation Rats; H.J. Park; June 2011