In order to keep your body functioning properly, a number of bodily systems have to work together.
Some of these we take more notice of than others – for instance, you use your musculoskeletal system every time you walk, run, lift something, or jump, and likely notice if a movement seems difficult or your muscle seems stiff.
Every time you eat or drink, you are actively engaging your digestive system.
Generally speaking, if you are hungry, or have eaten too much, or eat something that has gone bad, this system does a pretty good job of letting you know.
Other systems will go about doing their thing quietly, running in the background and you often won’t notice unless something is going wrong.
The endocrine system is one of these.
Its primary role is keeping your hormones in check, and we often don’t pay too much attention to it until there is a problem.
Today we will look at some of the key glands of the endocrine system, and some of the illnesses which can affect them.
What is Your Endocrine System?
The endocrine system is made up of all of the glands in the body which produce hormones.
These hormones dictate how your cells and organs function and affect all manner of things, including stress management, weight regulation, and sexual function.
What Organs Are In Your Endocrine System?
Today we will look at the key organs and glands which make up this system, and what can happen if they stop functioning properly.
Keep reading to learn more.
1. Your Thyroid
Located at the front of your neck, just underneath your Adam’s apple if you have one, the thyroid is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly.
It produces the hormones T3 and T4 which control your metabolism, and issues can occur when your body produces too much, or too little thyroid hormone.
Common Illnesses Of The Thyroid
Illnesses related to hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone being produced) include:
● Graves’ disease
● Thyroid nodules
● Thyroid cancer
If the body is not producing enough thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) illnesses which could occur include:
● Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
● Wilson’s temperature syndrome
2. Your Pancreas
The pancreas is part of both your endocrine system and your digestive system.
As part of the digestive system, it creates enzymes which digest food.
For its endocrine function, the pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, hormones which regulate the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
Common Illnesses Of The Pancreas
When the levels of pancreatic hormones are off-balance, some illnesses and diseases which may develop include:
● Type 1 diabetes
● Type 2 diabetes
● Acute Pancreatitis
● Chronic pancreatitis
● Hereditary pancreatitis
● Pancreatic Cancer
3. Your Reproductive Organs
Reproductive organs include the ovaries and the testes.
Common Illnesses Of The Reproductive Organs
Some diseases and disorders which can affect the testes include:
● Testicular cancer
● Prostate cancer
● Testicular torsion
Additionally, illnesses which can affect the ovaries include:
Some things which can affect both the testes and the ovaries are delayed puberty, precocious puberty, and infertility.
4. Your Adrenal Glands
As the name suggests, the adrenal glands, which are located on top of the kidneys, produce adrenaline, as well as cortisol.
If you’ve ever heard of the “fight or flight” response, it’s adrenaline which is responsible for this reaction.
Cortisol has effects on blood pressure, immunity, and metabolism as well as other things.
Common Illnesses Of The Adrenal Glands
Illnesses which can affect the adrenal glands include:
● Adrenal cancer
● Adrenal incidentaloma (masses or tumours on the adrenal gland)
● Addison’s disease (underactive adrenal gland)
● Conn’s syndrome
● Cushing’s disease
5. Other Endocrine Glands
Today we looked at some common illnesses and diseases of some of the major glands of the endocrine system, however, we didn’t have time to review all of the other glands.
Here is a quick rundown of other glands of this system:
● Hypothalamus: lines the endocrine system with the nervous system
● Pituitary gland: this is the “master gland” which helps control all other glands
● Pineal gland: The pineal gland produces melatonin, which helps you sleep
● Parathyroid: Controls levels of calcium and phosphorus, impacting bone health
● Thymus: Creates white blood cells, which help the immune system develop.
Why Is Endocrine Health Important?
As you can see, the endocrine system is responsible for a number of important functions in the body.
As you age, hormonal shifts can help explain things such as why your metabolism seems to slow as you get older, or why some people develop osteoporosis in old age.
Being aware of the endocrine system, and the effect factors such as stress, sleep, and lifestyle habits can have on your hormones can help you to ensure everything runs smoothly for a long, happy, and healthy life.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Are you worried about your endocrine health?
Perhaps you have been experiencing symptoms and can’t pinpoint the cause.
Or you are worried because you know there is a family history of certain endocrine disorders.
Maybe you have recently received a diagnosis, and are looking for natural ways to manage your illness.
Whatever the issue, Annex Naturopathic can help.
Contact us today to book an appointment.
One of our qualified naturopathic doctors will work with you to get to the root of any issues you are experiencing, and offer natural solutions to help manage your illness.
Yours in Health,
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND