The Endocrine System of the human body is very much a part of the information processing method used by the human body. It consists of the hormones which control all aspects of our body function from single cells right through to the entire development and growth of the human body as well as controlling the emotional states.
Hormones are the chemical messengers of the human body and are made by the endocrine glands. Hormones are important because they are used by the body to regulate tissues or organs. The endocrine system is well integrated into the nervous system and the two systems therefore work well together.
Hormones work much like keys. If they are the right shape, they will fit into an organ such as the pancreas and begin to do the work it has been assigned, in this case to control blood glucose levels in the entire human body.
The Endocrine System consists of a network of Hormone Producing Glands:
Hypothalamus: Situated in the brain, it is the main link between the nerves and the hormones.
Pituitary Gland: Also known as the master gland as it involves two glands in one. It controls many other glands. The nervous system controls:
1. Posterior Pituitary which produces 2 hormones:
a. Vasopressin – Regulates water in body’s cells and causes blood pressure to rise.
b. Oxytocin – Used during childbirth for the womb to contract and lactation to begin.
2. Anterior Pituitary: Usually referred to as the master gland as it triggers other endocrine glands into action as it receives the necessary chemical messages in the bloodstream.
Thyroid Gland: Controls metabolism and secretes thyroxin. When overactive, this hormone has the ability to cause to irritability and when underactive it causes drowsiness. This gland also has the ability to store the hormone produced.
Thymus Gland: Three types of hormones are produced here relating to the development of white blood cells (T-cells) which function in the immune system.
Pineal Gland: Located in the middle of the brain and the size of a pea. This gland produces a hormone known as melatonin which is important for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It also plays a role in sexual development. But it is generally in charge of regulating activity levels in the body throughout the day.
Heart: The hormone known as antriopeptin is produced here. This hormone reduces blood volume and pressure and regulation of fluid balance.
Adrenal Gland: Outer layer known as cortex produces steroid hormones which are responsible for regulating sodium, potassium and glucose as well as maintaining fluid balance.
Kidney: Erythropoietin is secreted by the kidneys which stimulates the production of red blood cells within the bone marrow.
Stomach: Produces hormones which aid the digestive system.
Pancreas: Insulin and glucagon hormones are produced by this gland. They aid in the control of blood glucose levels in the body.
Intestines: Also produces hormones to aid in digestion just as the stomach does.
Gonads: Ovary/Testes – These produce oestrogen and progesterone in females and androgens which include testosterone in males.
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