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  • Writer's pictureDavid Hurley

Hormones - The chemical soup inside you!

So a bit of a divergence again, a delve into our bodies and what keep us alive, hormones the chemicals that drive every process, action, reaction and activity within our bodies. But these are nothing without the Neurons that activate the hormones and help to drive and regulate us, so this time Hormones, next time Neurons and after that who knows what? I want to try and make this little subset about five or six articles long but let's just see. So here we go ........


So What Are Hormones?


We all think of Hormones as the chemicals that emerge in teenagers bodies about the age of thirteen, making them spotty, moody and objectionable, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We all have them inside us, from the day we are born, to the day we die, literally keeping us alive and driving every single thing that goes on inside us and that we do.


Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate different functions in your body. Several glands, organs and tissues make and release hormones, many of which make up your endocrine system.


Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it. Hormones are essential for life and your health and when these go wrong ……. So do you!


With hormones, a little bit goes a long way and because of this, minor changes in levels and production can cause significant changes to your body and lead to certain conditions that require medical intervention and or serious illness.


Scientists have identified over 50 hormones in the human body so far but have also identified dozens of other functions that they know are driven by Hormone activity but haven’t discovered the how.


Hormones control many different bodily processes, including:

Metabolism.

Homeostasis (constant internal balance), such as blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, fluid (water) and electrolyte balance and body temperature.

Growth and development.

Sexual function.

Reproduction.

Sleep-wake cycle.

Mood.

Etc. etc. etc ………….


What Do Hormones Do?


Hormones are chemical messengers that affect and manage hundreds of bodily processes. Often, a bodily process involves a chain reaction of several different hormones, produced by one gland and passed to one or more Neurons for application or use.


A hormone will only act on a part of your body if it “fits”, if the cells in the target tissue have receptors that receive the message of the hormone. Think of a hormone as a key and the cells of its target tissue, such as an organ or fat tissue, as specially shaped locks, if the hormone fits the lock (receptor) on the cell wall, then it’ll work, the hormone will deliver a message that causes the target site to take a specific action or produce another chemical or hormone.


Your body uses hormones for two types of communication.


The first type is communication between two endocrine Glands or Neurons: One gland releases a hormone, which stimulates another gland to change the levels of hormones that it’s releasing. An example of this is the communication between your Pituitary Gland and Thyroid. Your pituitary gland releases Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which triggers your Thyroid Gland to release its Hormones, which then affect various aspects of your body.


This type of Hormone is called a Releasing Hormone and is a messenger, telling other Glands and parts of the body to change what they are doing or change chemical compounds. In some cases they also react with Neurons to create activity.


The second type of communication is between an Endocrine Gland and a target organ. An example of this is when your Pancreas releases Insulin, which then acts on your muscles and liver to help process Glucose.


Which Body Tissues Make Hormones?


Specialized Glands that make up your Endocrine System make and release most of the Hormones in your body. A Gland is an organ that makes one or more substances, such as Hormones, digestive juices, sweat or tears and are responsible for releasing Hormones directly into your bloodstream.


Your endocrine system consists of the following glands:


Hypothalamus.

Pituitary Gland.

Pineal Gland.

Thyroid.

Parathyroid Glands.

Adrenal Glands.

Pancreas.

Ovaries.

Testes.


But not all organs and tissues that release Hormones or Hormone-like substances are considered part of the Endocrine System, other body tissues that release hormones include:


Adipose Tissue (fat tissue).

Kidneys.

Liver.

Gut (gastrointestinal tract).

Placenta.

Hypothalamus. Your Hypothalamus is a small region of your brain that connects to your Pituitary Gland through the pituitary stalk and it releases several Hormones that control your Pituitary Gland.

Your Hypothalamus makes the following hormones:

Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone.

Dopamine.

Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone.

Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone.

Oxytocin (your hypothalamus makes oxytocin, but your pituitary gland stores and releases it).

Somatostatin.

Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone.


Pituitary Gland:

Your Pituitary Gland is a pea-sized gland at the base of your brain, behind the bridge of your nose and directly below your Hypothalamus. It consists of two lobes: the posterior lobe and the anterior lobe, your Pituitary gland releases several hormones — many of which control the functions of other Endocrine Glands.


The anterior pituitary makes and releases the following six hormones:

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH or Corticotropin).

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH).

Growth Hormone (GH).

Luteinizing Hormone (LH).

Prolactin.

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

  

The posterior pituitary releases the following hormones:

Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH, or Vasopressin).

Oxytocin.

 

Pineal Gland:

Your pineal gland is a tiny gland in your brain that’s located beneath the back part of the Corpus Callosum (nerve fibers that connect the two parts of your brain). It releases the hormone Melatonin, which helps control your sleep-wake cycle and is also responsible for skin pigmentation and a whole host of other functions.


Thyroid Gland:

Your Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your neck under your skin. Your Thyroid’s main job is to control the speed of your metabolism (metabolic rate), which is the process of how your body transforms the food you consume into energy.

Your thyroid releases the following hormones:

Thyroxine (T4).

Triiodothyronine (T3).

Reverse Triiodothyronine (RT3).

Calcitonin.

Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine are often collectively called “Thyroid Hormone.”

 

Parathyroid Glands:

Most people have four pea-sized Parathyroid Glands located behind their Thyroid Gland (the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck). Sometimes, your Parathyroid Glands are located along your Oesophagus or in your chest. These are known as ectopic (in an abnormal place) Parathyroid Glands.

Their main job is to release Parathyroid Hormone (PTH), which is responsible for the calcium balance in your blood and bone health.

 

Adrenal Glands:

Your Adrenal Glands, also known as Suprarenal Glands, are small, triangle-shaped glands that are located on top of each of your two kidneys and are responsible for the production of:

Cortisol.

Aldosterone.

DHEA and Androgens.

Adrenaline (Epinephrine).

Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine).

 

Pancreas:

Your Pancreas is an organ in the back of your abdomen (belly). It’s part of your digestive system and Endocrine System.

The Islet Cells (endocrine cells) in your Pancreas make the following hormones:

Insulin.

Glucagon.


Ovaries:

People assigned female at birth (AFAB) have two ovaries — each located on both sides of their uterus below the opening of the fallopian tubes. In addition to containing the egg cells necessary for reproduction, the ovaries produce the following hormones:

Oestrogen.

Progesterone.

Testosterone.

 

Testes:

People assigned male at birth (AMAB) have two testes that hang in a pouch outside of their body below their penis. The Testes are part of the male reproductive system and produce sperm and the Hormone Testosterone.

 

Adipose Tissue (fat tissue):

Adipose tissue is commonly known as body fat. It’s located all over your body, including under your skin, around internal organs, between muscles, in bone marrow and breast tissue. Adipose tissue makes and releases the following Hormones:

Leptin.

Adiponectin.

Plasminogen activator Inhibitor-1.

Oestrogen.

Angiotensin.


Kidneys:

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that filter your blood. They’re part of your urinary system, but they also produce hormones, including:

 Erythropoietin.

Renin.

The active form of vitamin D (vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin, it’s a Prohormone, which is a substance that your body converts into a Hormone).


Liver:

Your Liver is an essential organ and gland, performing hundreds of functions necessary to sustain life. It’s considered part of your digestive system, but also produces Hormones, including:

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).

Angiotensinogen.


Gut (gastrointestinal tract):

Your Gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long, connected tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus. It’s responsible for digestion. Scientists are currently studying the hormones that your gut makes and their effects. These hormones include:

Ghrelin.

Somatostatin.

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).


Placenta:

The Placenta is a temporary organ that develops in the Uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to the developing Foetus, the placenta produces the hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone to maintain the pregnancy.

 

What Happens When It All Goes Wrong?


Dozens of medical conditions are caused by hormone issues. For most hormones, having too much or too little of them causes symptoms and issues with your health. These imbalances often require treatment. Some of the most common hormone-related conditions include:


Diabetes, including Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes.


Thyroid disease, including hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels).


Irregular menstruation (periods), caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhea and anovulation.


Female infertility.


Male infertility — more specifically, low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).


Obesity.


The bottom line: Without Hormones we would die, plain and simple, but like a lot of things inside our bodies it's all connected, with Neurons the Hormones couldn't be utilised, Muscles wouldn't function and a whole host of other processes and communication that goes on inside us without us ever knowing. We are truly fascinating.

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