The human body is one of the most complex and intriguing mechanisms in the world. There are various processes that occur each second within our body to keep us healthy and alive. Among them, the endocrine system is responsible for the secretion of essential hormones, and here are some interesting facts about it:
1. What is the Endocrine System?
Similar to the nervous system, it is a messenger system; however, instead of relying upon neurons and electrical signals, the endocrine system uses hormones, a form of chemical messengers. It comprises eight ductless glands; the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal body, ovaries, and testicles that regulate sleep, metabolism, and reproduction. All the said tasks are carried out by these glands, releasing hormones directly into the circulatory system.
The study of the endocrine system, including its functionality, specific hormones, and diseases, is called endocrinology. Any disorders experienced as a result of the endocrine system’s failure come under endocrinology as well. Also, a person dealing with endocrinology is known as an endocrinologist.
3. An Ancient Study
It may seem that endocrinology is a relatively new form of study; however, it has been practiced for thousands of years. It is said that it dates as far back as 200 B.C., and ancient Chinese used to extract hormones primarily from the urine and used to create medicines by combining it with other chemicals.
4. Osteoporosis and the Endocrine System
Interestingly, a patient suffering from osteoporosis is often referred to an endocrinologist despite it being a disease that causes bones to lose density, making them vulnerable to fractures. This is because osteoporosis occurs due to hormone imbalance. It is often seen that women tend to develop osteoporosis after menopause, as the level of estrogen drops in their bodies. Moreover, people experiencing hyperthyroidism also experience problems with their bones.
5. Diabetes Testing
Presently, there are numerous devices that can check the blood sugar levels in mere minutes and without any pain. Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to regulate the level of glucose in the blood, and this excess sugar is excreted from the body in the urine. The first physician to ever mention diabetes was Hippocrates, also known as the Father of Medicine. Shockingly, he diagnosed his patients with diabetes by tasting his patient’s urine. This technique, despite its bizarreness, was one of the most accurate ways to diagnose diabetes.
6. Origin of the term “Hormone”
Presently, it may appear as if the word ‘hormone’ has been around for ages; however, it only came into existence in the early 1900s. Previously, it was believed that neutral reflexes triggered the release of certain chemicals but in 1902, William Bayliss and Ernest Starling, two English physiologists, discovered that the pancreas was responsible for the secretion of said chemicals. Later, the name hormone was given to these chemicals.
7. Hormones from other organs
While a majority of hormones are secreted from the endocrine system, it is not responsible for the release of every hormone. The stomach also releases two hormones known as ghrelin and gastrin, these two are responsible for inducing hunger and secretion of gastric acid, respectively. Additionally, estrogen and progesterone are secreted by the placenta during pregnancy.
8. Iodine and Thyroid
The thyroid is located just below Adam’s Apple, and it is almost in a butterfly shape. Interestingly, the thyroid requires iodine to function properly and iodine deficiency can result in goiter, a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes inflamed, causing cough and difficulty in breathing. Under a program, companies started fortifying their salt with iodine, resulting in the eradication of this disorder.
9. The Uniqueness of Pancreas
The reason why the pancreas is often studied when it comes to understanding hormones is that it functions both as an endocrine and exocrine gland. Insulin and glucagon are directly released into the bloodstream via the pancreas, similar to the endocrine system; however, it also releases pancreatic juices directly into small intestines via ducts, just like the exocrine glands.
10. Rooster Test
In 1849, Arnold Adolph Berthold, a German zoologist, concluded that hormones affect the blood which, in turn, affects the body. To make it absolute, he castrated roosters’ testicles, making them lose their aggression and desire to mate; however, upon re-implanting them, all the symptoms were reversed.
11. The Hardcore Hormone Replacement Therapy
12. Stress and Hormones
The endocrine system is shifted into a higher gear once we encounter stress. Depending on the type of situation, certain hormones are released in excess. For instance, under physical stress, the secretion of growth hormone is boosted.
13. Not limited to Humans
This system is not only found in humans but is also found in other vertebrates, such as dogs, cats, bats, pigs, lizards, and more. While they may not have the exact eight glands, they all possess the hypothalamus-pituitary axis that is essential for the endocrine system to exist.