Hormones and Health

Each part of your body – from your brain to your skin, your heart, your kidneys, and your muscles – has a specific job. They take direction from your endocrine system to get the work done. The glands of the endocrine system send out hormones that tell each part of your body what work to do, when to do it, and for how long. Hormones are vital to your health and well-being.

Sometimes hormones get out of balance. That can lead to problems like diabetes, weight gain or loss, infertility, weak bones, and other problems.

Hormones regulate the body’s biochemical reactions for everything the body does and makes.

A balanced hormone presence will decrease the symptoms of aging (aging skin, memory loss, fatigue, aches /pains / stiffness, shortened life-span) and restore vitality, sexuality, a slim figure, a good attitude, healthier bones, a healthier heart, and a sharper brain.

Present in all multi-cellular organisms, a hormone is a “communication device” – in the form of a chemical messenger that transports a signal via the bloodstream from one or more cells to other cells in the organism, to affect a change in the receiving cells. Only a small amount of hormone is required.

Different hormones work together to regulate many body functions, including:

  • Mood / Stress response
  • Tissue function
  • Reproduction /Sexual function
  • Growth and development
  • Metabolism E.g. Mineral metabolism

Hormones must be in balance. When your hormones are in balance you will:

  • Sleep well
  • Have energy in abundance
  • Have a strong sex drive
  • Have an efficiently functioning immune and digestive system

Conversely, when your hormones become imbalanced, a number of symptoms can present, including:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Most hormone imbalances develop over time, as a consequence of lifestyle patterns – only a few imbalances result from endocrine organ malfunctions.

Chronic stress resulting in CORTISOL imbalance is often the culprit – not only is CORTISOL the primary hormone for responding to stress, it is also primarily involved in helping your body convert food into energy, normalize blood sugar and maintain your immune system’s inflammatory response. Unbalanced CORTISOL also deregulates female hormones. Thus, for example, hormonal symptoms experienced by women before, during and after menopause are largely avoidable by attending to lifestyle choices that affect stress on the body.

The response to stress that will interfere with hormonal balance is triggered by emotional, dietaryor painful/inflammatory events – for example, work stress, financial worries, relationship problems, poor diet (e.g. Too much sugar, refined carbs, processed food and damaged fats, not enough good fats, antioxidants and water), exposure to toxins.

Correcting a hormone imbalance requires an holistic, lifestyle approach before even considering any sort of hormone replacement:

That done, ensure your adrenal hormones are in balance – weakened adrenals will not allow your hormones to attain balance.

The Endocrine Glands

Endocrine tissues or glands contain specialized cells that synthesize, store, and release hormones directly into the bloodstream – in contrast to exocrine organs that secrete their substances into ducts. However, there are a few exocrine organs that also have endocrine gland function, secreting hormones directly into the blood stream.  E.g. the pancreas, kidneys, liver.

The endocrine glands are central to regulating and normalizing all the body’s interconnected systems – of great significance, is a small gland in the brain, called the hypothalamus, which is the link between the endocrine and nervous systems.

  • THE BRAIN sends messages to the hypothalamus . . .
  • THE HYPOTHALAMUS then sends messages to the nearby pituitary gland (by secreting, so called, Releasing Hormones . . .
  • THE PITUITARY then produces hormones that stimulate Target Glands . . .
  • TARGET GLANDS then secrete their own hormones

A number of glands that signal each other in sequence are often referred to as an axis, E.g. the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Hormone-producing cells produce one of three types of hormones:

  • Amines (water-soluble, produced from amino acids) – for example:
  • Thyroid hormones – THYROXINE (T4), TRIIODOTHYRONINE (T3);
  • Catecholamines – produced by sympathetic nervous system activation, they include EPINEPHRINE (ADRENALINE), NOREPINEPHRINE and DOPAMINE, controlling autonomic arousal, fight-or-flight stress response, and reward response.
  • Polypeptides g. pituitary ACTH, INSULIN,parathyroid hormone);
  • Steroids (fat-soluble, produced from cholesterol) – include
  • Glucocorticoids: g. CORTISOL
  • Mineralocorticoids:    g. ALDOSTERONE; involved in sodium retention;
  • Sex steroid hormones: Androgens (E.g. TESTOSTERONE), estrogens (E.g. ESTRADIOL) and progestagens (E.g. PROGESTERONE);
  • Sterols: Vitamin D (E.g. CALCIDIOL, CALCITRIOL).    Closely related, also considered steroid hormones). 

Exocrine organ hormones

Some exocrine organs contain an endocrine gland portion and a duct portion.

  • Endocrine gland portion secretes hormones directly into the blood stream – g. the pancreas secretes the hormones INSULIN, GLUCAGONs and somatostatin; the liver secretes INSULIN-like growth factor hormones IGF-1 and IGF-2;
  • Duct portion secretes substances via ducts that lead into the bodily environment external to the gland – E.g. the pancreas secretes pancreatic juice to aid digestion; salivary glands secrete saliva. The mammary glands produce milk, but no hormones.