The Endocrine System & Aging
Many of the disorders connected with
aging are caused directly by changes in the level of the hormonal
secretions manufactured by the hormone producing glands.
What are hormones? They can be
best described as chemical messengers which serve to regulate
important functions within the human body, including growth
and aging, reproduction and metabolism. These chemicals are
carried in the blood-stream to various targeted cells, in
order to stimulate them to specific activity.
The major glands are
pituitary, pineal, thyroid and para-thyroid, thymus, adrenal,
pancreas, ovaries and testes; and they are all concerned with
manufacture of hormones. In addition to these glands, some other
organs of the body produce hormones as a secondary function,
e.g. the kidneys primary function is to filter blood, but they
also contain endocrine cells that secrete hormones.
The pituitary, a pea-sized gland, regulated by a part of
the brain known as the hypothalamus, exercises control over
most hormonal activity. Some hormones work on cells all over
the body, such as thyroxine, manufactured by the thyroid gland,
which regulates the metabolic rate.
Other hormones have
specific functions, such as the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH)
which acts upon specific cells in the kidneys only; adrenaline,
manufactured by the adrenal glands is the chemicals
that acts to produce a heightened state of response at moments
of stress; the sex hormone level rises sharply, during puberty,
and in women, drops after menopause; insulin, produced in the
pancreas, regulates the glucose level in the bloodstream.
The thymus, a small, yellowish triangle located below the breast
bone, controls the performance of the T-cells & B-cells
of the corpuscles that make up the immune system, so crucial
to the healthy functioning of the body after puberty the thymus
gland begins to shrink, until it virtually disappears.
Sometimes a chain reaction
is created. For instance, the pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating
hormone, TSH, which acts in turn upon the thyroid gland to produce
Metabolism , which encompasses a wide range of chemical processes
that take place within the body, is largely controlled by hormonal
activity. Metabolic disorders may be caused by over-production
or under-production of a particular hormone, and can have wide
ranging effects on the body's internal chemistry. Some metabolic
disorders are due to faulty or blocked chemical pathways which
cause build-up of chemical deposits within the body, instead
of their elimination from the body system , leading to serious
Hormones also regulate the balance of chemicals in the blood.
If there is too much or too little, secretion is automatically
increased or decreased until the correct level is restored.
The parathyroid hormone, for instance, is responsible for maintaining
correct calcium levels in the bloodstream.
Given below are some of the hormones which affect the bodyís
day to day functioning:
- Growth Hormone (GH)
stimulates growth of bones, cartilage, muscles. GH also affects
- Parathyroid Hormone
- Calcitonin regulate
calcium and phosphate levels in blood stream
- Thyroxine (T3 &
- Thyroid Stimulating
Hormone (TSH) affects the rate at which tissues use energy
Hormone (ACTH), is another Hormone which affects body metabolism
- Corticosteroid Hormone
(production controlled by Corticotropin manufactured by the
pituitary) & Cortisol help the body adapt to physical
& emotional stress by boosting blood glucose levels
- Cortisol also prevents
inflammatory conditions in the joints.
- Aldosterone Hormone
helps to maintain blood pressure by regulating excretion of
salt through the kidneys
- Epinephrine &
- Norepinephrine Hormones
(manufactured by the Adrenal Glands) increase heart rate and
blood flow to muscles in stressful moments
- Insulin (lowers glucose)
- Glucagen (raises glucose)
(both produced by the Pancreas) regulate glucose levels in
- Testosterone the main
male hormone is produced throughout life, and is controlled
by hormones secreted by the pituitary gland
- Estrogen &
- Progesterone, the female
sex hormones, are produced by the ovaries
Stimulating Hormone (FSH) &
Hormone (LH) stimulate secretion of testosterone and development
of sperm in men, and ovulation & secretion of estrogen
stimulates breast development during pregnancy
stimulates contractions during labour
Hormone (MSH) causes skin cells to produce melanin, which
is responsible for pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes
(anti diuretic hormone) is produced by the kidneys and controls
regulates sleep patterns
(DHEA) produced in the adrenal glands, is one of the 150 hormones
to be synthesized by these glands.
- Human growth
The Fountain of Youth &
Your Hormones (article)
Much research is being conducted in the field of
hormonal activity and the functioning of the glands. Yet questions
and uncharted areas abound.
The one factor that
is clear is that it is the neuro-endocrine system's various
secretions that dictate the rate of aging within our bodies.
Supplements of growth
hormone, melatonin and DHEA (a hormone from the adrenal glands
which works to support the immune system) have been experimentally
used as anti-aging therapy. But the benefits lasted only as
long as the supplements were ingested.
The rate of age-related decline in the
human body systems, and its consequences, are determined by
a combination of factors.
as genetics, may be outside our control. But itís up to us to
make our own lifestyle choices.
functions are inter-reliant.
However, the nervous
system is the most complex system in the body and regulates
thousands of activities simultaneously. It is the source of
our consciousness, creativity, communication, experiences and
emotions. It also controls every bodily process. From automatic
functions like breathing, salivating and blinking, to thinking,
seeing and playing games of skill; whether voluntary or involuntary,
there is no activity which by-passes the nervous system.
Intricately enmeshed with the functioning of all the systems
is the endocrine system, the collective name for the hormone
producing glands and cells
we can find a way to keep our hormones flowing, and the glands
working at the optimum level
throughout the span of our lives, we would have found
the 'fountain of youth'.
And YoungAgainForever is pleased to bring you the Fountain of