Your Pituitary: The Leader of the Band


Our endocrine system is one bedazzling piece of work. And from its home behind the bridge of our nose, the pituitary gland leads the band, keeping all the parts in tune with each other.

Your pituitary gland controls all your hormones, which means the entire endocrine system–pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, parathyroids, pineal, thymus, testes and ovaries–and the latest additions, body fat and bones.

Here’s peek at how it works: The hypothalamus, which unites the endocrine system with the nervous system, notices that the thyroid gland needs put out a shot of hormone. So, it sends a shot of TRH to the pituitary, telling it to send a shot of TSH to the thyroid, and then the thyroid pulses out a shot of thyroid hormone.

Once the thyroid hormone is released, the hypothalamus says “enough already” and sends a stop message to the pituitary, which sends a stop message to the thyroid.

When everything’s going along, singing a song, this relay happens all day, all night, providing however much thyroid hormone you need for your activities at the moment

But if the pituitary falters, things go badly. Medicine has always insisted that pituitary problems are rare, but, in fact, rarely check.

If your pituitary gets into trouble, plan on waiting about twenty years before you get a diagnosis. That’s what happened to me, and doctors didn’t help. But let me assure you that a faltering pituitary isn’t the end of the world if you don’t want it to be.

What makes the pituitary falter?
•    The Pituitary Network Association studies show that one out of five people has a pituitary tumor, usually benign, that can affect pituitary function.

•    Concussions cause pituitary damage.

•    Candida, mold and other fungi.

•    Too much iron plays havoc with the pituitary.

•    Infections can leave behind problems.

•    Environmental toxins, such as fluoride, whack at all our body parts.

•    A low-fat diet thumps the endocrine glands, including the pituitary.

•    Excessive estrogen, a huge problem that’s gaining ground daily, piles on.

•    And on, and on.

How does the pituitary work?
The pituitary has three sections: Anterior, intermediate and posterior lobes, each with different functions.

The intermediate lobe went unmentioned for years.  Then it got promoted to “probably unnecessary.” Now they’re thinking the intermediate lobe controls the show, but with no clue as to how that works.

The posterior lobe stores the oxytocin and vasopressin created by the hypothalamus, emitting them as needed. Vasopressin controls the body’s fluid level. Oxytocin plays a role in physical coordination, the ability to make social connections, and on, and on. Oxytocin’s probably the most astonishing thing you never heard of.

The anterior lobe keeps the rest of endocrine gang going, sending out TSH to kick the thyroid into gear, ACTH for the adrenals, luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones for the gonads, etc. We get our growth hormone–and a lot more–from the anterior lobe, too.

They can test for pituitary tumors with an MRI. Beyond that, your pituitary will probably never get tested. Medicine checks individual endocrine glands, assuming the problem’s there, not in the pituitary.

But testing is not as cut-and-dried as it’s cracked up to be. For instance, doctors assume low thyroid is a thyroid problem, but it could be a pituitary or hypothalamus problem. Maybe the pituitary can’t respond to the hypothalamus. Or maybe the hypothalamus isn’t talking.

They could test the hypothalamus to see if it’s sending out hormones for the pituitary to act on, but they don’t. And they could test the levels of pituitary hormones, but again, they don’t–except in research settings.

Symptoms of pituitary malfunction mimic other endocrine glands–overwhelming fatigue, hair loss, brain fog, etc.–but a few symptoms get more specific.

A lack of growth hormone shows up noticeably when children fail to grow; the same lack in adults means excessive aging.

Loss of underarm and pubic hair suggest pituitary problems. As do joint stiffness, constant hoarseness, epic mood swings and loss of memory. Since each of these symptoms can arise from other health issues, you’ll probably need a cluster of them–and a sales pitch–to stir a doctor’s interest.

Medicine’s lack of interest can be pretty daunting, but I’m here to tell you that self-help works; it gave my life back to me.

And it can do the same for you. But it’s not about magic bullets or one-size-fits-all approaches. Our unique bodies get miffed when we treat them casually. There they are, yelling their lungs out to tell us what they need, and we don’t pay attention!

My Moving to Health program ( leads you step-by-step to understanding what your body is telling you and what to do about it. And the best part is your body always speaks truth; you only need to learn its language.

God is good,
Bette Dowdell

About the author: Bette Dowdell defines determination. In a really deep health ditch, with doctors who didn’t help, she got her Oh-Yeah! attitude in gear and researched her way out. She never intended to be a health expert, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. You can subscribe to Bette’s free e-mails on how to solve health problems at

Bette Dowdell
A drunk driver pretty much destroyed my health a month before my first birthday. Doctors said I was fine--for years. Finally realizing my health was up to me, I started researching. I got out the health ditch I was in, and found my future: Giving people the information they need to understand how to take control of their own health. It's been an amazing journey, and I look forward to all that is yet to come.