A Brief Look at Hormones

Hormones can be thought of as the “couriers” of our bodies. In other words, they are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the bloodstream. In turn, these substances will tell the body to perform certain tasks. Some of the most basic (and important) of these include:

  • Maintaining the reproduction of cells.
  • Allowing our bodies to grow when we are young.
  • Modifying our thought patterns and regulating our moods.
  • Aiding in proper digestion.

In fact, most processes within our bodies are governed by these clever substances. It should come as no great surprise that if there is an imbalance or one is not present, grave consequences can occur. Let’s take a closer look.

Where do Hormones Come From?

Every hormone within the body is secreted from an area that is known as an endocrine gland. These glands are located in various areas throughout the body. Some of the primary glands include the pituitary gland, the thyroid glands, the thymus, the testes and the ovaries.

How do They Work?

These chemical messengers are programmed to enter into a certain site within a cell. As only a specific hormone will fit into a specific place, this concept can often be thought of as a “lock-and-key” model. Only a very small amount of hormones are capable of triggering a massive response (such as the adrenaline released during a fight-or-flight situation). It therefore makes sense that too much of a hormone can lead to unwanted consequences and too little can also have a pronounced effect.

Some of the most common hormones are adrenaline and epinephrine (these both give us energy amongst other effects), serotonin (mood regulation), melatonin (helps us sleep) and testosterone (necessary for proper male development and sexual function).

What if a Hormone is Not Present?

There are times when the body will not be able to produce a hormone. This could be due to an accident, a medical condition (such as a cancer that requires the removal of a gland) or a simple deficiency. In any of these instances, doctors will often recommend a treatment known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). By taking oral or intravenous doses of the hormone required, the body will be able to maintain homeostasis (keeping itself in balance).

These are some of the most basic facts in regards to hormones and how they work. While they are only present in tiny amounts, the effects that they have upon our bodies are quite profound.