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Overview Of The Endocrine System

Written by: Deanna Goodson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The endocrine system is comprised of several organs, referred to as glands. These glands, which are located all over the human body, create and secrete hormones. Hormones are just chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body. They carry messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and even cells. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it.

thyroid gland near stethoscope on table.

What does the endocrine system do?

The endocrine system monitors, on a continuous basis, the amounts of hormones in your blood. As mentioned previously, hormones deliver messages by locking into cells they target in order to relay those messages. The pituitary gland is the master gland of the endocrine system. This smallish portion of the brain is located at the brain’s base and works in conjunction with the hypothalamus.

The pituitary gland senses when your hormone levels rise and tell your glands to stop or start producing hormones, depending upon the situation. It’s important to note that, when hormone levels dip below a certain point, this gland instructs other glands to produce and release more of the necessary hormones. This is a process referred to as homeostasis and it means that the human body wants to remain in balance.

What processes do hormones affect in the human body?

Hormones affect nearly every process in the human body, including, but not limited to:

  • Metabolism,

  • Growth & Development,

  • Emotions & Mood,

  • Fertility & Sexual Function,

  • Sleep,

  • And Blood Pressure.

Some glands may produce too much (hyper) or too little (hypo) of a hormone. These imbalances can sometimes lead to significant health problems like weight gain, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances. There are many factors that affect how your body creates and releases hormones, such as illness, stress, and certain medications.

What are the different parts of the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is made up of organs called glands. These glands produce and release different hormones that target specific things in the body. Glands are present all over the human body, including in your neck, brain, and reproductive organs. Some glands are small while others are large. The smallest gland – the pituitary gland – is the most powerful. The largest gland is the pancreas and is located near the kidneys.

The main glands that produce hormones are:

  • Hypothalamus – this is located in your brain and controls the endocrine system. It uses information from your nervous system and tells other glands, including the pituitary, when to create hormones. The hypothalamus controls many bodily functions such as mood, hunger, thirst, sleep and sexual functions.

  • Pituitary – also located in the brain, the pituitary gland is small – only about the size of a pea ‒ but it has a very big job. It makes the hormones that control several other glands in the endocrine system such as the thyroid, the adrenals, the ovaries, and the testes. The pituitary gland is in charge of many functions, including how your body grows.

  • Thyroid – butterfly in shape, the thyroid is located in the front of the neck. It’s responsible for the metabolism, which, essentially, is how your body handles energy. Energy is generally in the form of calories and having an overactive or underactive thyroid can affect weight, mood, and more.

  • Parathyroid – these small glands are as small as a grain of rice. We have four parathyroid glands. They control the level of calcium in the human body. In order for your heart, kidneys, bones and nervous system to work properly, you need to have the right levels of calcium.

  • Adrenal – humans have two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. They help regulate metabolism, blood pressure, sexual development, and stress responses. Many people think of flight, fight or freeze responses when they think of the adrenals, which produce adrenaline and cortisol.

  • Pancreas – as part of the endocrine system, the pancreas plays a significant role in digestion. It makes insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in your blood. Diabetics have a pancreatic dysfunction that causes them to have marked swings in insulin levels, sometimes with fatal results.

  • Ovaries – these are located in the female reproductive system. The ovaries are where progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are created. Women have two ovaries in their lower abdomens, one on either side.

  • Testes – in men, the testes, aka testicles, make sperm and release the hormone testosterone. This affects sperm production, muscle strength and libido.

As you can see, the endocrine system is rather complex. It works in conjunction with good nutrition. If you want to schedule a free, 60-minute consultation with me, I’d be happy to chat with you.

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Deanna Goodson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Deanna Goodson is a professional life and mental health coach, nutritional counselor, and writer. She received her coach training at Rhodes Wellness College in Canada and received an ACC credential from the International Coaching Federation in May of 2019, which was recently renewed. As a mental health coach, Deanna is well-versed in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Emotional Freedom Technique, aka Tapping. Deanna is also a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and has a certificate in Emotional Eating Psychology (EEP). She follows an intuitive eating approach for her clients and helps them repair their relationship with food.



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