Your pituitary gland may only be about the size of a pea but it plays many important roles in your overall health. The gland is found behind the nose, connected to the base of the brain. It influences many different hormones which is why pituitary gland health is very important. While there are other important glands, the pituitary gland controls most hormonal function within your body, thus earning its nickname, the ‘Master Gland.’
Because the pituitary gland is connected directly to the brain, any fluctuations or disorders are immediately communicated to the brain. In response, the brain then adjusts the level of hormones your body makes. If there is a disorder with your pituitary gland, it has a ripple effect that impacts your entire endocrine system! One of the most common causes of pituitary dysfunction is a pituitary tumor (which is benign in most cases but may be malignant in some rare cases).
Hormones Impacted by the Pituitary Gland
- Growth Hormone
- Regulates growth and physical development
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
- Stimulates and regulates thyroid hormone production
- Follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone (FSH)
- Produces hormones including testosterone and estrogen which encourage sperm/egg production
- Stimulates and control’s milk production
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone ( ACTH)
- Stimulates and controls cortisol production
Common Symptoms of Pituitary Dysfunction / Pituitary Disorders
Though pituitary disorders are considered rare, pituitary dysfunction may go undiagnosed and thus, untreated. Recognizing common pituitary dysfunction symptoms an assist you and your doctor in determining whether or not you have pituitary dysfunction.
- Unexplained Fatigue / Exhaustion
- Mood Changes
- Increased irritability
- Vision problems
- Changes in menstrual cycles in women
- Erectile dysfunction
- Unexplained weight loss / weight gain
- Poor Memory
- Sleep problems
- Sensitivity to cold
- Decreased appetite
- And more…
What is Hypopituitarism?
If you have pituitary dysfunction, it may be diagnosed as ‘hypopituitarism.’ Mayo Clinic offers a clinical description of hypopituitarism, “Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder in which your pituitary gland fails to produce one or more hormones, or doesn’t produce enough hormones…Hypopituitarism is when you have a short supply (deficiency) of one or more of the pituitary hormones. These hormone deficiencies can affect any number of your body’s routine functions, such as growth, blood pressure or reproduction. Symptoms typically vary, based on which hormone or hormones you are missing.”
While Mayo Clinic goes on to note that, if diagnosed with hypopituitarism, you will need medication for the rest of your life, there are natural and holistic ways to treat your body’s pituitary dysfunction.
Natural Treatment of Pituitary Dysfunction
The type of treatment you undergo will depend on the cause of your pituitary dysfunction. Traditional treatments include cortisol replacement therapy, thyroid hormone therapy, sex hormone therapy (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), human growth hormone (HGH) therapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and more. By determining the root cause, we are able to holistically treat the dysfunction.
First, any good naturopathic treatment will take a holistic approach including making lifestyle adjustments such as dietary changes (including the addition of healthy fats for reduced inflammation), improving quality of sleep, relaxation techniques, exercise, and more. Beyond lifestyle changes that almost anyone can make with the assistance of a naturopath, there are also holistic treatments that may also help treat pituitary dysfunction.
Dietary supplements may treat and relieve symptoms of pituitary dysfunction, including L-arginine, copper, probiotics, adaptogen herbs, glycine, antioxidants, and more. If you are concerned you may have a pituitary disorder or pituitary dysfunction, consult your naturopath to get necessary testing and begin a holistic treatment plan so that you can feel your best!