Hormones are the Body’s Messengers.
The body has many different hormones – and glands that produce them!
Glands and hormones have an enormous role to play in the body’s health and well-being. Understanding these roles is important for those looking to protect, manage and improve their health.
What do hormones do, exactly?
- Hormones are the body’s messengers.
- Glands create hormones are part of the endocrine system.
- Hormones produced in one part of the body – and delivered to distant organs and tissues where they act to modify structures, start, stop and regulate all the functions of the body.
- Hormones are like traffic signals, telling your body what to do, and when, so it can run smoothly and efficiently – a process called the cascade effect.
- Effects of hormones depend largely on their concentration in blood and other fluids of the body.
Feedback Control of Hormone Production
Hormone feedback mechanisms, in the blood and lymphatic system, are at the root of most hormone control mechanisms.
A simple example how the hormone feedback mechanism works is the heating system in your home. When the furnace produces enough heat to elevate temperature above the set point of the thermostat, the thermostat is triggered and shuts off the furnace. When temperature drops back below the set point, negative feedback is gone, and the furnace comes back on.
The body uses feedback loops extensively to regulate secretion of all the various glands – and hormones they produce. The main communications pathway in the regulatory system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Hormone cascades are often the result of interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary and the target endocrine gland communicated through the adrenal pathway. In response to the signals from the brain, the hypothalamus secretes neurohormones that effect (stimulate or inhibit) the anterior pituitary gland, which in turn secretes hormones that act on the target cells.
Other cells are capable of converting neural signals into hormonal output called neuroendocrine transductors. Transductors allow the nervous system to direct the endocrine system to produce hormones in response to environmental and psychological stimuli.
Hormones are Produced by Glands in the Endocrine System
Glands in the Head and Neck
- Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods and the release of hormones from other glands; and also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
- Pituitary: Considered the “master control gland,” the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
- Pineal: Also called the thalamus, this gland produces serotonin derivatives of melatonin, which affects sleep.
Glands in the Neck
- Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with metabolism, calorie burning and heart rate.
- Parathyroid: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
- Thymus: produces several hormones, is much more closely associated with the adaptive immune system than with the endocrine system. The thymus serves a vital role in the training and development of T-lymphocytes or T cells – an extremely important type of white blood cell that helps defend the body from potentially deadly pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control response to threats, sex drive and produce cortisol, the stress hormone.
NOTE: Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone” because of the way it affects the body in responding to bio-chemical, physical and emotional stress.
- Pancreas: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
- Ovaries: Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen and progesterone, the female gender hormones.
For women, estrogen (or estradiol) is the main gender hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. During menopause, estrogen level changes cause many of the uncomfortable symptoms women experience.
Progesterone is similar to estrogen but is not considered the main sex hormone. Like estrogen, it assists with the menstrual cycle and plays a role in pregnancy.
- Testes: Only in men, the testes produce the male gender hormone, testosterone and produce sperm. Testosterone is the main gender hormone. It causes puberty, increases bone density, triggers facial hair growth, muscle mass growth and strength.
- Melatonin levels change throughout the day, increasing after dark to trigger the responses that cause sleep.
Hormone and Endocrine System Take Aways
- Diet, lifestyle, hormone feedback control and proper hormone cascading helps produce proper hormone balance and supports the body’s ability to function efficiently.
- Precise control over endocrine function and circulating concentrations of hormones is crucial.
- Small problems with hormones can cause uncomfortable symptoms and serious, life-altering conditions.
- Adding prescription hormone support may further disrupt the orderly functions of your hormones.
Part 2 – Sex Hormones »
Protecting or improving hormone function is neither as complex as it sounds nor a simple as you’ve heard.
There are natural, holistic methods to protect or improve hormone functions. A Certified Natural Health Consultant, Holistic Health Practitioner, like Dr. Frank Lucas, PhD, NHC can help you protect or improve hormone functions.
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|The principles of Holistic, Natural Medicine help you uncover the root cause(s) of your symptoms instead of simply masking them.
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|With more than 20 years of experience helping thousands of people to protect or improve their health, Dr. Lucas can be a valuable member of your healthcare team.