Ed Golson Outdoor Education

endocrine system

This is one of the most ignored systems in our bodies yet it influences almost every cell, organ, and function.  The primary function of this system is to regulate our mood, growth, development, metabolism and other bodily processes by the secretion of different hormones from our glands. The endocrine glands are responsible for releasing over 20 hormones directly into the blood stream. 

The endocrine system is made up of many different glands. Arguably, the most important glands are the hypothalamus, pituitary, and the thyroid glands.

Hypothalamus:  This is a collection of cells located in the lower middle part of the brain.  It is especially important because it links the endocrine and the nervous systems directly.  Another primary function of this gland is to regulate the pituitary gland by either suppressing or stimulating it to secrete hormones.

Pituitary gland: Sometimes referred to as the "master gland," this pea sized gland located just below the hypothalamus produces hormones that regulate many other glands in the endocrine system.  Some factors such as emotions and seasonal changes can influence production and secretion of pituitary hormones.  Divided into two lobes, each lobe regulates the activity of different glands.  The anterior lobe, or the front lobe, regulates the thyroid, adrenals, and reproductive glands.  This means that it can regulate hormones such as: bone growth, milk production in pregnant women, other thyroid hormones, and other adrenal hormones.  In the posterior lobe, or rear lobe, of the pituitary another hormone is released which helps control water balance in your kidneys.  Still yet another very important set of hormones secreted by this gland are the endorphins.  These hormones act on the nervous system to allow you to become more tolerant to pain. 

Thyroid:  This gland, located in the front part of the neck, produces hormones called thyroxine, and triiodothyronine (pronounced: try-eye-uh-doe-thigh-ruh-neen).  These hormones control how fast or slow a cell will burn fuel from food to produce energy.  The more of these hormones you have in your body the faster the cells will burn energy.  Another key process done by the thyroid hormones is regulating bone growth and brain development. 

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