Article Review: Pineal Gland Calcification
It is a bit embarrassing how much I have read about pineal gland calcification. Over and over again I have patients who are concerned about brushing their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste because they are scared that it will harm their pineal gland. So I read up on it to see if there is any truth to their fears. I have done this so much, I figured why not start summarizing this literature.
So let's start with the infamous pineal gland calcification.
There is a very comprehensive review on pineal gland calcification. You can find it here: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/23/2/301
This is a deep dive into what pineal gland calcifications are, theories as to why they occur, and suggestions on how to prevent and to potentially remove them. There are over 300 articles cited in this literature review, which is a massive undertaking.
They describe the pineal gland as a secretory organ which "primarily synthesizes melatonin" but is also responsible for the creation of peptides such as DMT, and steroids such as testosterone to a lesser extent.
Although the gland is highly vascular, they propose that the calcifications are actually synthesized in the gland, as opposed to as a result of filtration. They review both viewpoints of whether these "acervuli" are pathological in nature, or are part of the normal metabolic processes of the gland. For example, people with Alzheimer's and schizophrenia tend to have higher levels of pineal gland calcification, but..... it is also found in neonates, and there is plenty of research showing that these calcifications "failed to impact the melatonin production and its circadian rhythm".
In terms of how these calcifications are formed, the authors describe it as an organized secretory process, similar to bone production but with a chemical composition more akin to enamel and dentin, due to a high concentration of hydroxyapatite. They review various proposed cellular pathways to the formation of these calcifications, both from pinealocyte and non-pinealocyte origins, but conclude that they "cannot definitively answer this question". They do offer three potential pathological mechanisms: 1) chronic vascular inflammation 2) brain tissue hypoxia 3) intracranial pressure. Do note that there is not a single mention of fluoride as a causative agent in this section of the article.
As for removing these calcifications, they review surgical transplantation of pineal glands, and also the direct application of chelators to the gland, which is obviously something reserved for lab animals. Therefore, they conclude that in humans it may be best to "retard it's calcification or to recover the function of the calcified gland".
And here is where they lose me...15 pages and 290 references into a scientifically dense microbiological and histological evaluation of the pineal gland, they finally mention fluoride. It was not described in any of the previous hundreds of articles looking at proposed mechanisms of pineal gland calcification, but they recommend avoiding fluoride because was found in calcified glands of geese and in aged humans...without a further discussion of these articles. These calcifications are composed of hydroxyapatite, so it makes sense for fluoride to be bound to it! After hours of complex reading, it is horribly disappointing to see the authors just toss in these, now classic, articles without reviewing the causation/correlation discussion. And it is invariably these few lines that are always quoted to me by people who are concerned with fluoride in their toothpaste, when they in no way prove that fluoride is actually causing these calcifications.
This article is an amazing review for anyone looking to learn more about the pineal gland and it's function, but in no way does is support the avoidance of fluoride toothpaste due to risks of pathological calcifications.
We will review the goose study and the Luke et al study another day.....
Thanks for reading. Check out that article if you have a couple of free hours to review brain chemistry.