How Cannabis Affects The Pineal Gland
The pineal gland has a profound impact on the brain. Its sensitivity has led to speculation that it is the “third eye” referred to in mythology. It is worth investigating what sort of impact cannabis has on this part of the brain.
“The third eye” appears as an iconic symbol in Ancient Egyptian art. The Hindus also symbolised a third human eye with a ceremonial red dot or “bindi” on the forehead. This is said to mark the location of the Ajna chakra, a centre of energy for the subconscious mind. It is said to be humanity’s link to the spiritual realm, with philosopher René Descartes calling it “the seat of the soul”. Wasn’t much of Descartes’ medical research roundly discredited even during his lifetime? In short, yes. However, the long answer allows for the nuance that chakras do appear to correspond to important physiological locations throughout the body.
In the case of the third eye, the pineal gland not only appears there as an important neurological organ; it is in fact a light-sensing organ structurally similar to the eye. Okay, maybe there is something going on here. The pineal gland is important to many disparate cultures for its spiritual significance. It is named for its pinecone shape, a symbol that appears throughout the art of Assyrian, Greek, and other cultures. Claims about its powers range from attuning one’s mind with God or even telepathic communication. Let’s look at what the science has to say about the powers of the pineal gland. If it does serve some important function, then it is also worth exploring how cannabis can impact this part of the brain.
THE PINEAL GLAND
The first thing to look at is this whole “third eye” thing. Is it actually that similar to the eyes we see with? Or could it be some vestige of an eye that was previously there? Or has yet to fully evolve? Slow down. Let us consider how the name “pineal” relates to the gland’s pinealocytes. These are cells that respond to light. They are connected to the hypothalamus of the brain. This is where the governance of our circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, comes from. The hypothalamus communicates the presence of darkness to the pinealocytes, forming part of human perception of day and night. So it does form an important component of human perception. In other animals, it is even directly connected to the eye.
Many vertebrates across the mammal, reptile, and fish kingdoms have evolved a pineal gland. Others have evolved not to have one. In the case of the New Zealand reptile the tuatara, the pineal gland is directly connected to a literal third eye! Technically, the parietal eye is the correct gland to call a third eye. This gland appears on the tuatara’s head with a lens, retina, and cornea of its own. This connects to the pineal gland, as do the glowing third eyes of various deep-water fish. From an evolutionary standpoint, the pineal gland is clearly important to circadian rhythm, hormonal regulation, and things like that. But what else does it do for humans? And how would it be affected if said humans enjoyed some cannabis?
THE IMPACT OF CANNABIS ON THE PINEAL GLAND
The pineal gland receives blood flow directly from the rest of the body through the posterior cerebral artery. Since the blood is not processed through the blood-brain barrier, psychoactive chemicals hit the pineal gland much quicker. This makes it very sensitive to psychoactive chemicals such as DMT or cannabinoids. The pineal gland regulates healthy sleep through the production of melatonin. This is an important function to not mess up. Overconsumption of cannabis, as the definition of “excess” suggests, could have an adverse impact on this and other aspects of your health. It’s safer to moderate your cannabis use. If you are using cannabis, what can you expect to happen to the pineal gland?
The pineal gland is connected to the endocrine system and the endocannabinoid system. So as part of the network of cannabis’ influence, it helps the flow of cannabinoids to cannabinoid receptors. Perhaps your trippy dreams are the impact of cannabinoids regulating the depth and duration of your sleep. It has been suggested THC may reduce melatonin, which would adversely affect sleep. Yet so many people use cannabis to help get to sleep. Other effects of cannabis relieve worries and physical tensions that hamper sleep. The science around the relationship between cannabis and sleep requires further study.
SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY
Whether or not cannabis boosts some spiritually significant function of the pineal gland is down to perspective. An altered state of consciousness can be triggered by activity of the pineal gland during meditation. Meditative and psychedelic states are also known to arise through cannabis use. Cannabis has been used as a sacrament in far-flung religious ceremonies from Hinduism to Rastafari. There can be profound feelings of personal insight or connectedness with the world when taking cannabis. Does this sense of contentment come from the underestimated power of opening our third eye and stimulating the pineal gland? Or is this just the way one thinks when high? Stoners have a range of beliefs from the spiritual to the sceptical. Therefore, each person’s experience will vary. One thing we can all agree on is our fascination with the power of cannabis.
The pineal gland is said to be the third eye of mythology, but how does it interact with psychoactive cannabis?
Baking Your Chakras | The Use Of Cannabis In Meditation
Tuesday 17 September
To many people, meditation in all its many forms represents one of the greatest cultural achievements of humanity. They see it as a time-proven path to spiritual growth and self-development. Others regard it as an unscientific new-age craze, commercialised by the global ‘mindfulness’ movement and robbed of all dignity in the process. Still other people, however, claim that cannabis can help people explore te path of meditation in a better way. Obviously, that’s the best way to grab our attention here at the Cannabis Info Centre… We decided to see what we can find out about cannabis and meditation, without being judgmental if possible.
To be fair, you could say that meditation and smoking weed have a lot in common. For starters, they are both activities directed at achieving mental or psychological results. On top of that, both practices are frowned upon by level-headed and, let’s say, ‘serious’ people, who dismiss cannabis culture and meditative techniques as fads, or pastimes for hippies and confused hipsters. Another interesting connection is the roots they share, reaching back to spiritual practices of ancient India and beyond, and it’s also safe to say that both represent industries that make billions of dollars worldwide every year. There are positive similarities too, though: in fact, there are people who believe that cannabis can actually be a way to strengthen your meditation practices.
The crucial idea in using cannabis for meditation seems to be harmony. Cannabis can improve your mental and physical balance, resulting in a state of harmony that is conductive to meditation. After all, meditation can be seen as just another way to balance your mind and body, so the effect of cannabis can help you get there more easily, without the distractions and outside influences that disrupt your zen moments. There is a catch, though: getting stoned out of your mind will not help your mindfulness at all. You could simply fall asleep while trying to meditate if you get too baked, as you can’t remain ‘grounded’ without the right intention needed for proper meditation practices.
The thing to keep in mind is that every person responds differently to various strains of cannabis, and that meditation affects every person differently, too. You will want to aim for a slight buzz to help you relax and feel comfortable during meditation; not getting so high that you forget about meditation altogether. Try different strains and be sure to keep your dosage low. Hybrid strains containing moderate levels of THC and plenty of CBD would be a good place to start. Try different types of cannabis and different quantities as you go, perhaps also experimenting with various meditation techniques, to find out what works best for you.
It Works Both Ways
The connection between cannabis, meditation, and a balanced mind can work the other way around, too. If you have practiced meditation before, your experience can come in really handy if you happen to smoke too much weed or bite off more edibles than you can chew. If you feel that familiar sense of paranoia or the Fear setting in, try to counter it by turning to meditation. Sit down, slow your breathing, and focus on that relaxed breathing pattern. Let the anxiety go. It will help you stabilize your racing mind, and you will notice that your sense of paranoia and fear will dissipate into the background.
Don’t Make Your Meditation Depend On Cannabis
A word of warning is in place here: be careful not to rely too heavily on cannabis for your meditation efforts. If you get to the point where you feel you can’t meditate properly without using cannabis first, you’re on the wrong track. This is where dosage and a sense of proportion come in. Meditating while high is similar to the notion of microdosing, where you use just enough to make you feel more relaxed and slightly buzzy, but not enough to get stoned out of your mind. This is about mindfulness, remember? Smoke too much, and you get a state of mindlessness instead. Even though the great zen masters talk about achieving a state of ‘no-mind’, baking your chakras into submission is not the way to get there.
A Few Precautions
Okay, so now you know that mild dosages of cannabis may help improve your meditation experience. If you are planning to try the combination for the first time, or if you’re into meditation but not into weed, make sure you take the following precautions before you go ahead. As any experienced stoner will tell you, it is important to eat before smoking cannabis. If you prefer to meditate in the morning, have breakfast first. Also, make sure you are properly hydrated for a positive experience – drink plenty of fluids. Find a nice quiet spot to meditate to facilitate that relaxed state of mind you’re looking for. And perhaps most important of all, be chill. Meditation is not a race: you get better at it at your own pace, and nobody is keeping score. If cannabis doesn’t help your meditation, just skip it. Practice in short, five- or ten-minute sessions and expand from there. You’ll feel more balanced, relaxed, and focused for the rest of the day. And if you prefer not to use cannabis for your meditation, that can be a real bonus: you’ll still have that stash lying around for your personal enjoyment when your day is done!
The effect of the combination of cannabis and meditation is one that differs from individual. To reach the perfect balance one needs to experiment.