The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a wide range of functions. These control many different bodily functions. Hormones are produced by glands and sent into the bloodstream to the various tissues in the body. They send signals to those tissues to tell them what they are supposed to do. When the glands do not produce the right amount of hormones, diseases develop that can affect many aspects of life.
Here are the major glands of the endocrine system and their main function :
- Hypothalamus – Maintains the body’s haemostasis and regulates body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.
- Pituitary Gland – Composed of 2 lobes, the anterior, which secreted hormones involved in the body’s growth and development, and the posterior, which secretes hormones that increase the reabsorption of water into the kidneys.
- Pineal Gland – Responsible for the production of melatonin, which plays a major role in the body’s sleep wake cycle.
- Thyroid – This butterfly shaped gland produces 3 major hormones : calcitonin, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). They help regulate the body’s energy and metabolism.
- Parathyroid – The parathyroid, also referred to as the hypophysis, secretes hormones necessary for calcium absorption.
- Thymus – The thymus controls production of T-cells (white blood cells) and plays a vital role in the body’s ability to fight diseases.
- Ovaries/Testis – The male and female reproductive organs release hormones responsible for blood circulation, mental visor, and sex drive. Ovary secretes oestrogen and progesterone, which play a key role in the health of the female reproductive system. Testis secretes testosterone which is vital for physical development, bone density, and libido in males.
- Pancreas – Aids in the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Responsible for the production of insulin and glucagon, which regulate the level of glucose in the blood.
- Adrenal Gland – Produces hormones that allow the body to react to stress, such as adrenaline and cortisol.