What: The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones. These hormones are sent into the bloodstream to the various tissues in the body. They send signals to the tissues and tell them what they are supposed to do. Your body depends on these hormones to perform an array of important tasks including essential functions, like respiration, metabolism, reproduction, sensory perception, movement, sexual development and growth.
The bones, kidneys, liver, and heart are organs with secondary endocrine functions. Accordingly, the entire body is affected by the health of this particular system. If these hormones are under or over produced your body is at a higher risk for diseases and disorders that can drastically affect the longevity and quality of your life.
In order to take good care and protect your endocrine system, it’s helpful to know where each gland lives in your body (see graphic above) and what they do to support your optimal health.
- Pineal Gland:
- What it does: This gland produces melatonin which affects sleep.
- If the pineal gland is impaired it can cause disrupted sleep patterns.
- What it does: The hypothalamus is the head of all the endocrine glands (even your pituitary gland) and is responsible for body temperature, hunger, and moods. It also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
Imbalance or damage to your hypothalamus can cause fluctuations in body temperature, disrupted sleep cycles (insomnia), appetite irregulation, mood disorders, hypopituitarism (adrenal insufficiencies, hypogonadism, growth hormone deficiency), and sex and gland difficiencies that can cause infertility and problems with erections.
- What it does: Considered the "master control gland," the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
If your pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone, a child could experience stunted physical growth. If it’s producesses insufficient follicle-stimulating hormone it can cause problems with sexual function, menstruation, and fertility.
- What it does: This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
- Low levels of calcium in the blood can cause dental problems, cataracts, alterations in the brain, and osteoporosis.
- What it does: This gland produces hormones that make sure a person develops a healthy immune system.
- An adult can live without their thymus but if the thymus doesn’t work properly in a child it can result in T-cells in blood and lymphoid tissue to be depleted. Failure of the immune system can cause gradual, fatal wasting disease.
- What it does: This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
A poorly functioning pancreas can cause digestion problems and diabetes.
- What it does: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
If your thyroid isn’t working properly you might experience; depression, anxiety, fatigue, dry skin, changes in appetite (weight gain), changes in sex drive, fluctuations in body temperature, unpredictable bowels, insomnia, change in your periods, infertility, pain in extremities and muscles, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol.
- What it does: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
A poorly functioning adrenal gland can cause low blood pressure, low blood sugar and high levels of potassium in the blood. This is a life-threatening combination.
- What it does: Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
Hormonal imbalances can cause early menopause, primary ovarian insufficiency (ovaries stop working properly before a woman is 40 years old), and ovarian cancer.
- What it does: Only in men, the testes produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produce sperm.
Hormonal imbalances can cause changes in muscle and bone mass, sperm production and sex drive.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
Some of the factors that affect endocrine organs include aging, certain diseases and conditions, stress, the environment, and genetics. While you can’t control aging and genetics, there are some things you can influence, like stress levels and environmental exposures.
We always recommend annual checkups and talking to a doctor if you notice changes in your body and/or mood. Along with regular doctor visits and a therapist you love, it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to keep things working their best.
When you exercise the pituitary releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) while the thyroid emits hormones that regulate blood pressure. When possible, exercise outside to get as much vitamin D as possible which supports good mental health.
- For the Pineal Gland:
- Foods rich in vitamin B5 and B6 (lentils, sweet potatoes, tuna and turkey) support your Pineal Gland in the healthy production of melatonin.
- For the Pituitary Gland:
- Foods rich in vitamin D and E (meats, fish, eggs, nuts, leafy greens) support Pituitary function as well as your adrenals, hypothalamus,
- For the Thymus:
- Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, selenium, and zinc support the thymus.
- For the Pancreas:
- Olive oil supports the Pancreas. Too much red meat, butter, mayo and pastries can compromise proper function.
- Foods that minimize inflammation also support the pancreas.
- For Support of Male Reproduction:
- Zink (in oysters and other seafood), walnuts, almonds and whey protein support healthy male reproduction.
- For Support of Female Reproduction:
- Non-animal protein like nuts & beans, plus high fat dairy support healthy female reproduction.
- For the Thyroid:
- Thyroid superfoods include iodine rich roasted seaweed, salted nuts (Brazil, macadamia, hazelnuts), baked fish, dairy, and fresh eggs.
The products you use to clean your home and the beauty products you put on your skin and hair have ingredients that could disrupt your endocrine system and bring things out of balance. As much as possible, hold these products to a high standard and only invest in clean, organic ingredients.
The ingredients in our loba's are not only clean but they also support a healthy and balanced endocrine system.
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THE LAVENDER LOBA
The lavender loba is essential to a good night’s sleep. The lavender encourages your Pineal Gland to produce and secrete melatonin while the scent relaxes and calms your mind.
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THE FRANK + SHEA
Among many things this loba supports healthy, young-looking skin. It naturally promotes collagen production so you don’t rely on endocrine disrupting ingredients found in most anti-aging products.
We hope this post helps you make sense of your endocrine system and what you can do to support its healthy function. As always, visit your doctor if you have any concern about your body or mental health and lean on our LOBAS to moisturize your skin, support your entire system, and feel (and smell) great in the process.
xoxo - TLL