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The Pineal and Geomagnetism

Over the past decade there has been some intrest in the effect of the EMF on the functioning of the pinal gland. Most of the experiments have been performed on animals of various sorts, and we should be wary of generalising to humans. However, the tiny body of research that has been done with humans in no way contradicts the animal research. What follows is a section of research culled from the neurochemical literature that best illustrates the findings with regard to the effect of the EMF on pineal activity.

1. Semm et al (1980), Semm (1982), Barr et al (1983) and Cremer-Bartels et al (1983) have shown that the EMF affects electrical activity of pineal cells, and that the activity of the pineal enzyme Hydroxy-indole-O-Methyl-transferase (HIOMT) is strongly dependent on magnetic field changes, such that decreased magnetic intensity and reversed horizontal component decrease HIOMT activity. HIOMT is involved in the production of melatonin from serotonin (Prozialeck et al, 1978). A lot of experiments not only change the intensity of the magnetic field but also the horizontal component, and this too produce changes in the activity of pineal enzymes (Olcese, Reuss and Semm, 1988).
2. Walker et al (1983) found that artificial magnetic fields, differing only slightly in strength from the EMF, inhibited the melatonin biosynthesis in rat pineals at night by inhibiting NAT (serotonin N-acetyl-transferase) activity. It seems as if the CHANGE in MF is the important factor, because animals habituate to artificial fields. (NAT is one of the enzymes involved in the synthesis of melatonin from serotonin.)
3. In apparent contradiction which has yet to be clarified, Cremer-Bartels et al (1983; 1984) found that melatonin synthesis is affected by changing magnetic field strengths and that the retina is also affected. In particular they state that NAT increases concomitantly with exposure to increased EMF, and decreases with decreased EMD, whereas HIOMT decreases with both increased and decreased magnetic field strengths. Therefore, the suggestion is that NAT alone is important for synchronising the pineal with the EMF, and its rhythmic activity persists for at least three days in constant darkness, whilst HIOMT seems to be more implicated in the alteration of consciousness with a change in magnetic field whatever the direction. Reuss and Semm (1987) found that rotating the magnetic field's horizontal component also resulted in decreased NAT activity and therefore decreased melatonin production in pigeons.

As a result of these findings, Cremer-Bartels et al (1984) state that: The general biological role of melatonin may be interpreted as translator of enviromental conditions. They conclude: The determinations of the enzymes involved in the melatonin biosynthesis clearly revealed that 50% increased or decreased EMF affects the melatonin biosynthesis in birds in vitro and in vivo ... the natural EMF variations may be suggested to be the Zeitgeber of diurnal oscillations of NAT in the pineal gland and retina.

4. There is some suggestion that magnetic field effects on the mammalian pineal depend on retinal activation by light (Reuss and Olcese, 1986; Olcese et al, 1988). Reuss and Olcese (1986) report that not only pineal HIOMT but also retinal HIOMT is affected by magnetic fields. Pineal NAT and melatonin content in rats is inhibited by nocturnal exposure to a short-term very intense (100 microTesla) MF when the rats are kept in red light at night time. If the rats were in darkness when exposed to the MF their enzyme level was not affected and was anyway lower than that of those in red light. Though this could be an artifact of the experimental method it is worth bearing in mind. As both the retina and the pineal are enervated by the autonomic nervous system the suggestion is that it is this system which is influenced by alterations in magnetic field strength.
5. However, Wever (1973) showed that shielding the EMF desynchronised circadian rhythms in humans significantly, even when light perception was not excluded. This suggests that the magnetic component of regulation of circadian rythm is just as important as light. When an animal is kept in constant darkness it is found that its circadian rhythm carries on, but on a 25-hour cycle. Since the Moon circles the Earth once every 25 hours and affects the EMF (Leaton, Malin & Finch, 1962) it is possible that this is one aspect of the various factors which govern our circadian rhythm. Work with oysters, plants and salamanders all indicates a sensitivity to the lunar rhythm (Brown, 1954; Brown et al, 1960). There are other studies on humans that suggest that people being kept in constant darkness show a variety of bio-rhythms (Callaway, 1992). Early days yet!
6. Olcese et al (1985) suggest that there is a magnetic window and the body does not respond to fields whose strength is greater than or far lower than this window, which is around Earth-strength, but this seems to be true only for mammals and not for birds, where some of the experiments have used 50%-increased or decreased magnetic field strengths. And yet Reiter et al (1988) found that rats exposed to high-voltage (10,65 and 130 kV/m exposure) 60-Hz electric fields from conception to 23 days of age exhibited reduced peak night-time pineal melatonin content. Adult rats exposed to electric and magnetic fields show reduced night-time melatonin. Thus high-voltage fields, to which we are all exposed when near electricity pylons, abolish the night-time pineal melatonin rhythm in rats and could possibly affect us also in a similar manner.

Thus, the pineal gland, and particularly its enzymes NAT and HIOMT, which are involved in the production of melatonin and serotonin-related hallucinogens, is definitely affected both by magnetic and electric fields, such that decreased EMF results in decreased melatonin production, and a short-term intense change in magnetic field strength in either direction inhibits melatonin production. This could possibly underlie Persinger's apparently contradictory results noted above in which he sometimes finds a correlation with days of low EMF and sometimes with sudden increase in EMF. It appears to be the change in EMF that is the important factor affecting HIOMT so that potentially psi-conducive-state-of-consciousness hallucinogens are made in the brain through this pineal enzyme.

Since melatonin affects a wide variety of endocrinal and neuronal functions within the body, anything which affects the pineal gland will have wide-ranging effects. I hesitate to mention specific behavioural effects of melatonin, but it is considered to be a major component of our biological clock, and so is implicated in such diverse effects as jet-lag and depression, control of reproduction and other aspects of sexuality, and is a regulator of stress together with adrenals and the thyroid (see Roney-Dougal, 1989; 1991 for a fuller discussion of this).

There are strong resons to believe that the melatonin-serotonin neural activities are linked with psychosis (Halaris, 1987; Smith, 1978). Recent research has shown a clear link between long dark nights in winter, depression and melatonin (Arendt, 1985). There is a possibility that the converse is also true; long light days in summer, psychotic mania and serotonin. Thus a reduction in melatonin production through the use of artificial daylight lamps reduces levels of depression. Serotonin has been linked not only with some aspects of psychosis but also with the action of psychedelics, which were originally called psychotomimetic. Although there are no clear experimental studies that correlate certain psychotic states with increased psi, there is a considerable amount of speculation in the literature that this is the case. If so, then we have here a clear physiological rationale for such a correlation. This aspect will be explored more fully in a future paper.

Although, to my knowledge, there has been no specific research yet on the production of beta-carbolines in the pineal in relation to geomagnetic effects, it is highly probable that their synthesis will be similarly affected, since they are made in the pineal gland from serotonin (Uemura et al, 1988). As it is speculated that beta-carbolines assist in the production of dreams (Callaway, 1988) and that pinoline is a psi-conducive neuromodulator (Roney-Dougal, 1986; 1988) all this research suggests that through the pineal gland we have a physiological means by which the EMF can change our inherent sensitivity to psi awareness.