Pituitary—A Miniscule Master

Your body is run by a tiny gland the size of a pea. How is this possible?

by Dr. Tommy Mitchell on January 1, 2013; last featured November 22, 2020
Featured in Answers Magazine

Your body is run by a tiny gland the size of a pea. How is this possible? And what lessons does this arrangement teach us about our own Master?

Tucked away at the base of your brain, behind your sinuses, is a pea-size gland called the pituitary. People once mistakenly thought this little organ simply made mucus when your nose runs. Now it is called “the master gland” because it controls most of your other endocrine glands—the organs that secrete chemical messengers to keep your body working properly. The pituitary controls many things, such as your skin cells’ production of pigment and the growth of your bones. It secretes ten different hormones (chemical messengers) into your blood to direct these and many other vital body functions.

Without your pituitary, your bones wouldn’t know how big to grow, your kidneys wouldn’t know how much excess water to get rid of, and your body’s metabolism wouldn’t be able to adjust to stress. One hormone stimulates the mother’s womb to contract at the end of her pregnancy so that she can give birth, while another promotes milk production for the new baby. These same hormones also have many other jobs that are important in both males and females. Prolactin, for instance, doesn’t just promote lactation (milk production) but has over 300 other known functions. While most of these hormones are manufactured in the pituitary, a few are made in the nearby hypothalamus and transferred to the pituitary for storage and release.

The hypothalamus is actually the “master” of the pituitary, which hangs on a little stalk below the hypothalamus. In this stalk are blood vessels devoted to transmitting chemical messages between these two glands. The hypothalamus, besides making a few of the pituitary’s hormones, also makes seven different releasing hormones to control many pituitary functions.

Both the hypothalamus and the pituitary constantly monitor things like temperature, blood pressure, and various chemicals in the blood. These vital body functions are all influenced by the pituitary hormones. Thus the pituitary and hypothalamus work together to monitor how the body responds to each of the pituitary’s chemical instructions. They then make adjustments as needed by again increasing or decreasing the amounts of hormonal messages they secrete.

The master gland and its master, the hypothalamus, are a marvelous example of the Creator’s intricate design. They are part of a finely tuned system to monitor, control, and coordinate the complex orchestra of processes required to keep you alive and well. All the parts of this intricate system had to be in place and working together properly for Adam’s and Eve’s bodies to function correctly when God created them six thousand years ago.

By way of analogy, the pituitary and hypothalamus remind us of Jesus Christ’s relationship to us and to God the Father. Jesus is our Master, if we are Christians, and someday every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. Yet Jesus always obeyed God the Father. Jesus even told God the Father, in John 17:8, “I have given to them the words which You have given Me.” As Jesus always obeyed the Father, we should gladly obey Jesus, for He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). That is the Creator’s design for our abundant life and well-being!

Dr. Tommy Mitchell was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, earned his MD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and practiced medicine for over 20 years. He was a speaker for Answers in Genesis until the Lord called him home in 2019

Answers Magazine

January – March 2013

Learn about our culture's newest tactics in the battle for kids' souls, and discover what you can do in your home and church to reclaim our youth for Jesus, the Creator. In addition to this special section of three articles, you'll find all the creation content you expect from Answers magazine, including a look at Lucy, the famous ape; animals with "sixth senses"; ancient and modern reefs; and intriguing findings about the animal kinds on Noah's Ark.

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