The human body, from an evolutionary perspective, is a marvel. It has many organs and organ systems that work together seamlessly. Nevertheless, there are plenty of variables that can go wrong, resulting in repercussions of varying severity. Hormones are one among the many important variables that affect the various processes of the body. However, we first need to understand what are hormones, how they are secreted, and the functions they fulfil.
How Do You Define Hormones?
Hormones are known as chemical messengers of the body as they are responsible for many processes – from growth and development to metabolism and mental health. Hormones are usually released from special glands called endocrine glands which are located across many locations in the body. Each of these endocrine glands produces specific hormones which perform specific functions in the body. Now you know that what are hormones. Let us explore some of these hormones.
Hormones of the Human Body
Endorphins are one of the “happy hormones” produced by the body. They are called so because the body produces these hormones to relieve pain and/or stress. Interestingly, this hormone is also the reason for the “runner’s high”, a feeling of euphoria accompanied by reduced anxiety after a strenuous bout of aerobic exercise. Endorphins are structurally similar to morphine – a class of drugs which are considered natural painkillers. The pituitary gland, as well as the hypothalamus, produces endorphins.
Oxytocin is also one of the many other “happy hormones” produced by the body. However, oxytocin is more appropriately called the love hormone because it is usually released during kissing, cuddling or sex. Moreover, this hormone is very important for childbirth and breastfeeding. It also required to build trust between a mother and her child. Oxytocin is secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain.
Also known as the “fight or flight” hormone, adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal glands, which are located on top of both the kidneys. As the name states, adrenaline is produced when the body senses that it is in stress. The hormones act on various parts of the body, preparing to either fight or flee in dangerous situations. When adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, the rate of heartbeat increases, blood pressure increases, and the pupils enlarge. As stated before, adrenaline is released only during times of acute stress and/ or life-threatening situations.
Insulin is an important hormone produced by the pancreas – a gland which is present behind the stomach. Diabetes is a medical condition caused when the pancreas does not secrete sufficient amounts of insulin or the body is unable to utilize it properly. Without treatment and proper care, diabetes is essentially a death sentence. It can progress and lead to many other medical conditions, affecting many organs and eventually, the quality of life. However, advancements in modern medicine and medical technology have been able to reduce the mortality rates of individuals suffering from diabetes through artificial insulin and insulin delivery techniques.
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