What if your body's pineal gland were not functioning properly due to a Pineal Gland Cyst/Tumor (hereafter referred to as "PGCT")?
My horror story begins back in 1997 when I started battling a long and painful war with my body. At age eight (8) I was diagnosed with dysmenorrhea (heavy, irregular, painful periods) which may not sound like the scariest of monster names, unless you are a woman. I was placed on multiple medications to ease the pain and heavy blood flow. Since I can remember my hormones have been... well, off. I had pubic hair at age 6! I remember this like it was yesterday. I begged my mom and dad all spring for this one piece, school bus yellow, swimming suite. Many of you can relate to what I'm talking about; as a child I'm sure there was that one dress, or GI Joe, or pair of sparkly shoes, or sleek sneakers that you really, really, really wanted. So you begged and pleaded with your parents for that article or item until you were blue in the face.
Well, after months of begging and pleading with my parents until I was blue in the face, my wish was granted, and my parents bought me my beautiful yellow suite! That summer, my parents drove the family from Kelowna, BC, to Vancouver, BC, for what reason I do not remember, but we stayed at a Best Western with a HUGE swimming pool, that I remember perfectly.
Later that evening, after dinner, my sister and two (2) brothers and I threw on our swimming suits/trunks and skipped our way gleefully down to the lagoon... known to Best Western as the "family pool".
I remember running, jumping, and belly flopping into the bright blue water. I was screaming and yelling - having a total blast in my prized yellow suite! I ran out of the pool, jaunting after one of my older brothers, when all of the sudden my mother's eyes locked onto mine. Her face went white and sternly she yelled, "COME HERE!".
My stomach sank and my anus opened like curtains at a theater, "oh darn, I shouldn't have been running and screaming like that... oh man, I'm going to get into so much trouble".
My mother's face went from white shock to red embarrassment the closer I got to her. I grudgingly reached my folks where my mother was holding out a towel and quickly covered my waist. My poor mother was stunned, "I'm so sorry Lasha but your father and I didn't know that you were... well, that you had... ummm, how do I say this. You can't wear that swimming suit because it shows off hair that you shouldn't be showing off to others. Do you understand?"
I was so embarrassed, I had not given much thought to the pubic hair that appeared "down there", I was just a child. I figured it was the norm and everyone had hair there. From that day on my body hair made a dramatic entrance, HELLO, and kept on growing in places that it shouldn't have been; my face, my nipples, and my stomach. Growing up with so much hair, especially as a little girl, it made me feel like the "Wolfman". In Elementary, life was pure embarrassment due to early onset puberty and lack of medical knowledge by my family physicians. As I grew up I had very painful periods, missed weeks of school every month, fell behind in classes, missed out in social activities with friends, developed severe pressure headaches, and then cysts started to pop up in random parts of my body. Every time I saw any doctors, of any sort, for any problem, it felt like I was always being told the same thing, "it's a woman thing, just related to your periods, have a baby and your hormones will level themselves out".
Then came November 2016 when I was diagnosed with a PGCT, in the middle of my brain, which was pressing on the tectal plate causing me "mass effect". All of the pain and suffering I had been going through for all these years made me stop and think, "what if these PGCTs effected the Melatonin levels in the body? What if these PGCTs are causing other hormone related issues such as, autoimmune disorders and central nervous system disorders?"
Melatonin plays a crucial part in regulating sleeping patterns, it is the main hormone needed in the luteal phase of a women's menstrual cycle, PGCTs have been linked to early onset puberty, Melatonin also fights cancer (science has started to use this hormone as a cancer treatment due to it's amazing healing properties), and stops the development of tumors or abnormal masses within the body.
Many research papers suggest that PGCTs begin before birth and that many brain cysts form during the first few weeks when a baby is growing in the womb; that means, since birth the pineal gland has been obstructed, not functioning properly, that's a long time for a gland to not function the way it was meant to... Sometimes, I sit around and conjecture with Dr. Oppenheimer about all the, "what ifs" that pop into my mind.
What if there were a HUGE correlation between PGCTs (with regards to the pineal gland's inability to function properly) and the body's Melatonin levels, when it comes to the development of central nervous system (Fibro, ME/CFS) and autoimmune disorders? What if???
Melatonin plays a crucial role in regulating our sleep patterns. It has been studied and researched, with findings stating:
"Even if the pineal gland is switched "on" by the clock [our internal clock telling our bodies it's night time], it will not produce melatonin unless the person is in a dimly lit environment."
In medical communities, Melatonin has been known as the, "Dracula Hormone" because it only comes out at night. Jeez, Wolfman, Dracula, all I need is Vincent Price and we could all start a horror film here HA HA. Melatonin stays in a person's system for up to 12 hours, allowing for a full night's sleep, in a healthy adult. But, what if you aren't a healthy person? What if you have a cyst on your pineal gland? What if that cyst/tumor were causing your pineal gland to not function properly?
According to a peer reviewed medical paper by NCBI, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health entitled, "Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder and Melatonin Secretion Impairment in a Patient With Pineal Cyst" it states:
"We report the case of a 14-year-old girl with a wide non-compressive pineal cyst, associated with the inability to control her sleep-wake schedule.... Melatonin curve showed a blunted nocturnal peak, lower total quantity of melatonin, and prolonged melatonin secretion in the morning, with normal temperature profile and sleep parameters."
What if our PGCTs were effecting our pineal gland's ability to function properly? From the above peer reviewed medical paper they go on to state:
"The role of the pineal cyst in the aforementioned alteration of melatonin secretion and free-running disorder remains controversial, but our case supports the utility of monitoring sleep/wake, temperature, and melatonin rhythms in the diagnostic work-up of pineal cysts...."
With statements like, "melatonin secretion.... remains controversial" it is clear that the pineal gland's functions and uses in the body still remain a mystery.
Melatonin is an essential hormone utilized during the "luteal phase" of a women's menstrual cycle; it increases progesterone production and supports Growth Hormone secretion. Low Melatonin levels have been associated with infertility issues, making conception difficult, but when the follicular fluid in a woman's body contains high levels of Melatonin more eggs and better quality eggs are produced. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (hereafter referred to as "PCOS") has been linked to low levels of Melatonin - how interesting! Not only does Melatonin effect the production of progesterone, it also effects the health and quality of the eggs a woman produces 375 days prior to ovulation, and low levels of Melatonin have also been linked to PCOS.
What if PGCTs are causing the pineal gland to not function properly? What if the pineal gland's ability to produce Melatonin is inept? Worldwide, medical communities don't know enough about the pineal gland, it's function(s), or the hormone(s) it produces to understand the effects it has on a person's body. Not enough research, information, or funding has been put into what the ramifications are for PGCTs and the havoc they reek on a person's body (especially in the long term).
PGCTs have been linked to early onset puberty. My childhood horror story is only one of many; a case report entitled, "Precocious Puberty and Pineal Cyst – An Uncommon Association" states:
"A 5 year old boy was brought by parents with history of rapid increase of height, enlargement of the external genitalia, and appearance of pubic hair, voice change and presence of acneiform lesions over face for last two years....Estimated bone age [of the boy] was 12 years. (MRI) images showed a 1.1 × 0.8 × 0.7 cm cyst in the pineal region."
The above case report goes on to say:
"To conclude, we present an unusual association between precocious puberty related to pineal cyst. The underlying etiological association is unclear and this case exemplifies the *enigmatic role of the pineal gland in puberty."
What if PGCTs effect more than the medical communities have ever imagined? What if PGCTs, that little rice size pineal gland (which in my case is a walnut size but don't worry it's "stable"), were the master hormone conductor in the body - the silver bullet, the garlic clove, the HOLY WATER? Could Melatonin be the lurking nemesis in the foggy night, or the clown under the bed, or the psychotic serial killer driving around make-out-point preying upon unsuspecting couples? What if Melatonin and these terrifying monsters of PGCTs were the missing link between Fibromyalgia, ME/Chronic Fatigue, PCOS, and so many others?
Melatonin also fights cancer and it even stops the development of tumors or abnormal masses within our bodies. In a peer reviewed medical paper by NCBI, entitled "Melatonin attenuates the TLR4-mediated inflammatory response through MyD88- and TRIF-dependent signaling pathways in an in vivo model of ovarian cancer" it states:
" Mel[atonin] is an indoleamine produced by the pineal gland, with maximal secretion at night. The nighttime surge of mel has been suggested to serve as a "natural restraint" for tumor initiation, promotion, and progression. Mel has been indisputably implicated as a therapeutic agent, including in the treatment of reproductive cancers. Due to its versatility, mel has been recognized as having antioxidant, oncostatic, and immunomodulatory properties. Numerous reports have shown that mel modulates early and late.... signaling during inflammation, thus resulting in changes in the expression of genes.... Furthermore, some cytokines and factors displaying immunotherapeutic potential have been associated with mel and are under investigation as adjuvant therapies for cancer."
I find it interesting that Melatonin is being researched, funded, and used to treat tumors, cancers, and inflammation throughout the human body. But, when the pineal gland itself, which produces this spectacular, life saving, hormone, is engulfed in a mass of abnormal cells (effecting the gland's ability to function properly and do it's job) the medical communities brush people off and tell them "your PGCT is an incidental finding, none of your symptoms are associated with the cyst, go away". As well, if you're a woman I am sure you have heard this from your doctors many times, "it's a woman thing, probably just related to your period". Period!? Just like that evil doer in a Scooby Doo film, "you meddling kids, nothing to see here, go away!".
We have established that Melatonin is produced from the pineal gland. A lot of research suggests that people are born with PGCTs, which means their pineal glands have been flawed even before they were born; yes, low levels of Melatonin have been associated with infertility; correct, PGCTs has been shown to be associated with early onset puberty; and, Melatonin has been found to help fight against inflammation, tumors, and cancers throughout the human body. So what am I missing here?
What if PGCTs were the Loch Ness Monster, the Big Foot, or the Yeti of the medical communities?
Wouldn't it be great to find out if there were a connection between all of this? My playful point is that unless more research, education, and funding is put into place we will never know what this miracle gland is capable of? What if???
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog today and I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Please, feel free to leave me a comment down below, let me know your thoughts and opinions. I'd love to hear from you.
Wishing you all a lovely day filled with lots of laughter, joy, and relaxation.
Cedars-Sinai, Brain Cyst: