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The pineal gland is a small pine cone shaped chunk of tissue tucked in the middle of the brain. It is part of the endocrine system and produces melatonin, which is responsible for regulating the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythms of animals. Originally thought to be vestigial, the pineal gland's function was discovered in the 1950s in experimentation on cows.
It's also a. *ahem* "well known fact" that people without glands are unable to get angry.
But what it's really known for is being the home for the ghost in the machine. René Descartes identified it as the place where the "mind" interacts with the "brain," or "the principle seat of the soul," in his treatise on dualism. It may look cramped but just as an infinite number of angels can dance on the head of a pin so can many souls kick it in your pineal gland.
This brand of "Cartesian woo" has spawned various forms of pseudoscience in modern times. The pineal gland is a favorite of New Agers and dirty hippies. Many claim that it contains chakras or is the location of the "third eye." Regular consumers of psychedelic drugs may have an obsession with the pineal gland due to their belief that it produces dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogenic drug. This is merely a hypothesis that was proposed by Dr. Rick Strassman. It has not been proved by empirical evidence, but DMT, along with the precursors for its biosynthesis, have been found in rat pineal glands. In 2011, the presence of INMT, an enzyme that biosynthesizes DMT, was also confirmed in the pineal glands of primates.
Other forms of pineal woo include the idea that the pineal gland has become "calcified," through various nefarious agents, most notably fluoride, mercury from vaccines, even chemtrails.  While calcification of the gland can actually happen, and does occur in roughly 50% of the population by age 12 why it happens isn't clear. It's claimed that clearing away your pineal calcification can do anything from enabling you to dream better, think more laterally, enable you to see "the truth" (read: believe in conspiracy theories), to activating psychic powers. These beliefs are the basis for the Alt-Med crowd to push supplements and "detoxing" diets that supposedly will rid your pineal gland of the calcium that accumulates there.
- The Pineal Gland and Melatonin, Pathophysiology of the Endocrine System, Colorado State University
- Aaron B. Lerner, James D. Case, and Yoshiyata Takahashi. Isolation of Melatonin and 5-Methoxyindole-3-acetic Acid from Bovine Pineal Glands. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 235, No. 7, July 1960
- Descartes and the Pineal Gland, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- JASON KORBUS DMT and Our Brain: What the Scientists Say
- Barker et al. LC/MS/MS analysis of the endogenous dimethyltryptamine hallucinogens, their precursors, and major metabolites in rat pineal gland microdialysate.
- Cozzi et al. Indolethylamine N-methyltransferase expression in primate nervous tissue
- Med Health on Pineal gland calcification
- Sample conspiracy forums discussing pineal calcification
- Zimmerman, Robert A. "Age-Related Incidence of Pineal Calcification Detected by Computed Tomography". Radiological Society of North America. http://radiology.rsna.org/content/142/3/659.full.pdf. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- Neuroradiology By Mauricio Castillo, p.161
- Sample of psychic woo