Endocrine System

Endocrine System: Let’s keep it balanced

The endocrine system is a system that isn’t too familiar to most people because understanding it could get a little complicated. Diseases such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are conditions that arise because of imbalance of hormones in this system. Our endocrine system’s main actions are communicating, controlling and coordinating with how the body works. This system works in collaboration with all the other systems in the body.

It helps maintain and control you body’s energy levels, reproduction, growth and development, internal balance of body systems also known as “homeostasis” and responses to surroundings such as stress and injury. What a job ourendocrine system has to deal with. But wait, what exactly are hormones? We hear so much about it in our human body science classes but we only have a slight idea about what it really is and what it does for our body.

Hormones are special chemicals that move with body fluids. Different hormones have different effects on tissues and cells in this particular system. Without your endocrine glands and the hormones that they release, your cells would have no idea when to do important actions. So you have this system to thank for that. Imagine not having hormones to tell your bones that they need to start growing and developing, you’d stay little your entire life. I don’t think anybody would want to have a height of 4 feet and 2 inches when they reach the age of 20 years old right? Your body wouldn’t get the signal to release hormones during puberty. We can’t stay kids forever; everybody has to grow up one way or another and with this system and the hormones that it produces, we can achieve growing up.

Overview of Endocrine System

anatomy and physiology of endocrine system
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We have endocrine glands that come in all different shapes and sizes. Believe it or not, the gland which was given the nickname “master gland” is about the size of a pea. That gland is called the “pituitary gland”. Something that tiny has many functions for this system and without it; it wouldn’t be so complete. This gland is sited beneath your brain and it produces the growth hormone which helps you grow in size. Before going on about the pituitary gland, let’s first discuss the “hypothalamus”. This structure is vital in our system and  is located in the lower central part of the brain and links the nervous and this system together. The nerve cells in this structure either suppress or stimulate hormones from the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus sends out information sensed by the brain such as the temperature outside, light exposure and various kinds of feelings.

The pituitary gland produces the growth hormone, prolactin, thyrotropin and corticotropin. The growth hormone works as is. It helps out in the growth of a person. Without the growth hormone being produced in our endocrine system, conditions such as dwarfism and gigantism may develop. Dwarfism is lacking the growth hormone while gigantism is the over secretion of this hormone. Prolactin activates milk production in woman who recently just gave birth. Throtropin is the stimulator of the thyroid gland to produce various thyroid hormones. Lastly, corticotropin stimulates the adrenal gland to produce certain hormones also.

Another gland included in this system is called the “thyroid gland.” This is located in your neck and has the shape of a butterfly or bowtie. This gland produces hormones that help you stay alert and gives you a boost of energy.

The “adrenal gland” is vital in times of emergency, like when you get sick and when you’re under a lot of stress. In our time, sickness and stress seems to be a problem of our daily lives because of the constant need to keep up with work and personal issues. This gland in our endocrine system helps you do just that. Your adrenal gland produces a hormone that I’m sure you are familiar of called “adrenaline.” This hormone is responsible for the stimulation of the heart-rate, contraction of blood vessels, dilation of air way passages and this is naturally produced during times of high-stress or physically exhilarating situations. Imagine yourself in a burning house with one of your family members that is twice your size laying on the floor.

Since this is a high-stress situation, your body produces this hormone and you feel the need for action and you can do the unimaginable. You rush over to your family members’ side and with all your effort drag him away from the fire and out of the house. Ever hear the term “fight or flight?” This phrase is from the theory that states that animals react to threats to their environment to where the animal fights or flees the situation. This theory was recognized as the first stage of the “general response syndrome” in which it regulates stress among animals.

The “pineal gland” and “gonads” is responsible for the secretion of “melatonin” which is a hormone that helps regulate the wake-sleep cycle. Everybody needs and loves sleep. So by having a problem with this gland, insomnia (sleeplessness) can occur which could be a major problem for people.

Sex hormones aren’t just part of our reproductive system but are also important in our endocrine system because that is where they are produced.  The male’s gonads are the “testes” and secrete a hormone called androgen and testosterone. These hormones’ key role is the sexual maturity and development of the penis, the growth spurt during puberty and the appearance of body hair, deepening of voice and the increase of muscle mass and strength.

On the other hand, the female’s gonads are the “ovaries.” This structure produces eggs and secrete female hormones called estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is responsible for the development of the female’s sexual features which progesterone is the key hormone produced during pregnancy and the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Not many people know that the endocrine system contributes so much in our reproductive system, proves to show that there is so much more knowledge that we still don’t know about our body systems.

The largest gland is the “pancreas” and is found in your stomach. Insulin is one of the hormones that our pancreas produces. Insulin assists glucose (sugar) that is in your blood to enter the different cells in the body. Your cells need these sugars to function properly just like a car needs gas to work. Your body is an amazing machine because it determines how much hormones are set free and it releases it at the right time and that’s thanks to this wonderful system. Imbalances in the production of insulin can result in diabetes mellitus (type I or type II) which could be a major problem.

Like we all know, too much or too little of anything is never good for our health and that doesn’t leave our our endocrine system out. It could even be harmful and cause various problems. Some conditions this system are in-born while others are attained during adolescences because of environmental factors. With the conditions that you can prevent, go ahead and do something about it as early as possible. Natural remedies could be a big help in the prevention of these system problems.

Once you have an illness, you might have to take necessary medications or treatments to stay away from the undesirable affects. You can consider trying out natural remedies if your condition is still manageable. Natural remedies can help resolve and/or lessen your symptoms before needing to seek advice from your doctor.  Like the rest of your body, take care of your endocrine system as soon as you can. It is very much as important to your general functioning and endocrine system as well as the other systems in your body.