The Pineal Gland- Located at the Intersection of Science and Spirituality

The pineal gland is small but mighty and the title of “master gland” is well deserved. This gland is capable of receiving environmental stimuli and converting it to action potential (Most, 2020). It literally can transform the light/dark into a totally different form of energy. Wisneski and Anderson explain that the pineal gland is the “root of orchestration and modulation” and “hormonal products affect all of the classic body systems” (2009). Commonly people know about the pineal gland’s role in sleep/wake cycles. Descartes thought of the pineal gland as the seat of the soul (Most, 2020).

In addition to this distinction, many eastern religions refer to the pineal gland as the mystical third eye (Wisneski & Anderson, 2009). Our entire circadian rhythm depends on the pineal gland regardless of its mystical or spiritual properties. It is commonly known that the pineal gland is in charge of our sleep/wake cycles, by way of melatonin production. Jess, the sleep expert here at Integrative Alchemists, will be discussing the natural sleep rhythms and the use of over the counter melatonin supplements in future blog posts.

In the world which some deem ‘pseudoscience’, it is thought that the pineal gland is the home of DMT, referred to as “the spirit molecule”. This is the compound found in psychedelics like ayahuasca, which has become a very popular drug/ritual for spiritual seekers in recent years. There is also some thought that DMT is responsible for the sensory perceptions of people who have had near death experiences. A whole book is devoted to this by Dr. Rick Strassman, titled simply DMT, The Spirit Molecule. If you don’t have time for a whole book, then check out this documentary. Perhaps some of this thought is creeping into main-stream science as there was recently an article from Michigan Health Labs which reported that they isolated naturally occurring DMT in normal rat brains (Malcom, 2019). 

Is the pineal gland a subject on which science and spirituality can actually agree? Maybe so!  -Bridgette

Related: Sleep and Hormones


Malcom, K. (2019, June 27). ‘Mystical’ Psychedelic Compound Found in Normal Brains. Retrieved February 7, 2020, from (Links to an external site.)

Most, H. (2020). Psychoneuroimmunology:The science of how our brains and bodies are linked. [powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from

Strassman, R. (2001). DMT The Spririt Molecule. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press. 

Wisneski, L. & Anderson, L. (2009). The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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