Our Glands, Part 1: The 3 Lower Chakras
It is simply amazing how tiny little mini organs that secrete small amounts of chemical messengers called hormones can have such a huge effect on our health and well being. We have two main types of gland exocrine and endocrine. Endocrine glands release chemical substances directly into the bloodstream or tissues of the body.The chemical substances released by the endocrine glands are known as hormones. Exocrine glands release chemical substances through ducts to outside the body or onto another surface within the body, like salivary glands or stomach acid producing glands.
I’m going to focus on the main hormone producing endocrine glands that correspond to the 7 main chakras that go upwards along our spines. It is as if the gland is the physical body of the energetic vortex of an vibrational consciousness we call chakras.
At the base chakra level is the sexual glands or gonads, testes in males, ovaries in females.
The testes (or testicles) are a pair of sperm-producing organs that maintain the health of the male reproductive system. The testes are known as gonads.
In addition to their role in the male reproductive system, the testes also have the distinction of being an endocrine gland because they secrete testosterone—a hormone that is vital to the normal development of male physical characteristics. It is actually in the brain, from the hypothalamus and pituitary that tells the testes how much testosterone to produce.
During puberty, testosterone is involved in many of the processes that transition a boy to manhood, including: Healthy development of male sex organs, Growth of facial and body hair and the Adam’s apple, Lowering of the voice, and Increase in height and muscle mass.The importance of testosterone is not limited to puberty. Throughout adulthood, the hormone is integral in a variety of functions, such as: Maintaining libido, Sperm production, Maintaining muscle strength and mass and promoting healthy bone density
The testes are outside the body because cooler temperatures are helpful for sperm production. Isn’t amazing that the testes produce millions of these tiny tadpoles and perhaps only a few in a lifetime will pass on their genes to the next generation.
All forms of exercise may increase your testosterone levels. Weight lifting and high-intensity interval training are the most effective. Don’t overeat and don’t restrict calories too much for too long. Try to eat balanced amounts of carbs, fat and protein. Minimize stress and thus cortisol levels, optimize vitamin D levels, as well as the mineral zinc. Get plenty of restful, high quality sleep. If your levels are low then ashwagandha, ginger, horny goat weed, Mucuna pruriens, shilajit and tongkat ali all have shown to help.
In the female gonads, the ovaries secrete hormones, they protect the eggs a female is born with and they release eggs for possible fertilization. They produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are regulated by the hypothalamus that stimulates the pituitary.
A female baby is born with all the eggs that she will ever have.This is estimated to be around two million, but by the time a girl reaches puberty, this number has decreased to about 400,000 eggs stored in her ovaries. From puberty to the menopause only about 400–500 eggs will reach maturity, be released from the ovary, called ovulation, and be capable of being fertilised in the fallopian tubes of the female reproductive tract.
There is a cycle where one egg with mature each month and release progesterone in higher amounts and estrogen in lower amounts. These hormones prepare the uterine lining for potential pregnancy. If not fertilized, the hormone levels drop and the lining of the womb falls away in what we call menstruation. When all the eggs and their surrounding follicles are gone, then menstruation ceases and we have what is called menopause.
Some foods that help raise estrogen levels are flax seeds, soy which have isoflavones which may explain why Japanese women have much lower rates of breast cancer, fruits, including dried fruits, nuts and red wine. For Progesterone have more beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, nuts and pumpkin. Some of the most common herbs for menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats are black cohosh, red clover, chaste-tree berry, dong quai, evening primrose, ginkgo, ginseng and licorice.
O the spiritual level you can help your base chakras and thus your gonads and their hormones by grounding, such as being barefoot on grass, soil or sand, getting physical with exercise, and enjoying a satisfying sex life. Visualize light coming from the earth, through roots connected to your feet and into your base chakra and then to your gonads.
At the second chakra is the all important adrenals glands that sit like mini pyramids atop our kidneys. The central portion is called the medulla. It makes adrenaline and noradrenaline, also known as epinephrine and norepinephrine. They control the “fight or flight response” putting your body on “high alert.” They increase the heart rate, increase blood pressure, increase the amount of oxygen you breathe in, and temporarily improve the eyesight. Adrenaline also causes the liver to release extra glucose or sugar, into the bloodstream to provide instant energy. Things that cause the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline and noradrenaline include anxiety, pain, upright posture, exercise, and cold.
The outer cortex makes a number of different hormones that help control the heart, kidneys, GI tract, bones, genitalia, and immune system. These hormones control carbohydrate metabolism, muscular integrity, hemodynamic changes, and sexual maturity. One type of hormone is cortisol which is a stress hormone, but decreases the immune system. Aldosterone controls amount of fluid the body holds onto, thus blood pressure, as it directly affects the heart and blood vessels. And they produce androgens and estrogen that control the growth development of the gonads. Getting stress under control is the best way to protect your adrenals.
For your adrenal glands if you are not vegetarian you can add oysters, organic turkey and grass fed organ meats. Leafy greens are great including swiss chard and spinach which have the original “Chill pill” magnesium and asparagus which is high in sulfur and folate. You may want to add magnesium supplements as well. Have good quality fats daily like avocados, kefir, coconut oil and wild caught fish like salmon, anchovies, herring and sardines. Chamomile tea helps decrease anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms in just a few weeks. Rooibos tea, which is not from the tea plant but an African bush, can balance cortisol. The main herbs that help the adrenal brain axis are ashwagandha, eleuthero ginseng, holy basil, and rhodiola rosea.
Since the adrenals are connected to the seat of the soul chakra, it is important to connect to your soul anchored in your body here. Sometimes inner child work is necessary to work on the roots of why fear and anxiety affect you and thus your adrenals. Learn to have fun and enjoy being in a physical body through pleasure and a sense of freedom.
At the solar plexus level is the pancreas.
The pancreas is a yellowish 8in long fish shapes gland behind the stomach. It has an exocrine part that produced digestive enzymes, including trypsin and chymotrypsin to digest proteins; amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates; and lipase to break down fats.
The endocrine component of the pancreas consists of cells called islets of Langerhans, that create and release important hormones directly into the bloodstream. The main ones are insulin, which acts to lower blood sugar, It is like a key that opens cells to allow sugar in to burn for fuel as well as glucagon, which acts to raise blood sugar, by mobilizing a starch stored in the liver called glycogen.
Very common is having hypoglycemia where blood sugar can be too low which can produce many symptoms such as headaches, trembling and unclear thinking. One sign you have it, is if when you are tired and then eat something you get more energy. This means the blood sugar was going down and then up from the food, but when blood sugar and pancreatic hormones are balanced, you should have steady energy and just feel fullness after eating, not more energy.
Of course we all know that if you have diabetes, you may not produce insulin and thus have to rely on taking injections for the rest of your life. But there is also something called insulin resistance, where the cells are not accepting insulin and sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance can lead to full blown diabetes and the need for insulin, so exercise especially with aerobic and resistance training. Also lose weight, and eat less unhealthy fat, sugar, and red meats, and processed starches, and more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and lean poultry. Eat more foods with soluble fiber such as legumes, oatmeal, flaxseeds, vegetables like Brussels sprouts and fruits like oranges.A lack of sleep can make insulin resistance worse. Lower your stress levels. Herbs and spices including fenugreek, turmeric, ginger and garlic have shown promising results for increasing insulin sensitivity as well as cinnamon. Have green tea as well as apple cider vinegar. For some with pancreas issues it is wise to avoid many carbs including grains. When blood sugar is low try having sweet vegetables like winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes instead of sugar and flour products which raises blood sugar too fast, then there is a roller coaster where the pancreas secretes more insulin and the blood sugar plummets again.
For the solar plexus or 3rd chakra make sure you work on anger issues and work at making peace the normal state of your emotional body.