Endocrine System

The endocrine system is made up of several organs called glands. These glands, located all over the body, create and secrete (release) hormones.

Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in the body by carrying messages through the blood to the organs, skin, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell the body what to do and when to do it.

Endocrine System

Parts of the Endocrine System

The endocrine system is made up of organs called glands. Glands produce and release different hormones that target specific things in the body. You have glands all over the body, including in the neck, brain and reproductive organs. Some glands are tiny, about the size of a grain of rice or a pea. The largest gland is the pancreas, which is about 6 inches long. The main glands that produce hormones include:

  • Hypothalamus: This gland is located in the brain and controls the endocrine system. It uses information from the nervous system to determine when to tell other glands, including the pituitary gland, to produce hormones. The hypothalamus controls many processes in the body, including the mood, hunger and thirst, sleep patterns and sexual function
  • Pituitary: This little gland is only about the size of a pea, but it has a big job. It makes hormones that control several other glands such as the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries and testicles. The pituitary gland is in charge of many different functions, including how the body grows. It’s located at the base of the brain.
  • Thyroid: the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It’s responsible for the metabolism (how the body uses energy).
  • Parathyroid: These four tiny glands are no larger than a grain of rice. They control the level of calcium in the body. For the heart, kidneys, bones and nervous system to work, you need the right amount of calcium.
  • Adrenal: You have two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. They control the metabolism, blood pressure, sexual development and response to stress.
  • Pineal: This gland manages the sleep cycle by releasing melatonin, a hormone that causes you to feel sleepy.
  • Pancreas: the pancreas is part of the endocrine system, and it plays a significant role in the digestive system too. It makes a hormone called insulin that controls the level of sugar in the blood.
  • Ovaries: In women, the ovaries release sex hormones called estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Women have two ovaries in their lower abdomen, one on either side.
  • Testes: In men, the testes (testicles) make sperm and release the hormone testosterone. This hormone affects sperm production, muscle strength and sex drive.


The endocrine system continuously monitors the amount of hormones in the blood. Hormones deliver their messages by locking into the cells they target so they can relay the message.

The pituitary gland senses when the hormone levels rise, and tells other glands to stop producing and releasing hormones. When hormone levels dip below a certain point, the pituitary gland can instruct other glands to produce and release more. This process, called homeostasis, works similarly to the thermostat in the house. Hormones affect nearly every process in the body, including:

  • Metabolism (the way you break down food and get energy from nutrients)
  • Growth and development
  • Emotions and mood
  • Fertility and sexual function
  • Sleep
  • Blood pressure

Sometimes glands produce too much or not enough of a hormone. This imbalance can cause health problems, such as weight gain, high blood pressure and changes in sleep, mood and behavior. Many things can affect how the body creates and releases hormones. Illness, stress and certain medications can cause a hormone imbalance.


    Dozens of conditions can cause issues in the endocrine system. These conditions can lead to health problems all over the body. Some of the most common disorders are:

    • Diabetes: This endocrine disorder affects the way the body uses the energy from the food you eat. Diabetes develops when the pancreas doesn’t make enough of a hormone called insulin, or insulin doesn’t work as it should.
    • Thyroid disorders: Several conditions can affect the function of the thyroid gland.
    • Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. Hyperthyroidism occurs when it creates too many hormones.
    • Hypogonadism (low testosterone): In men, hypogonadism can cause erectile dysfunction. It can also cause memory and concentration problems, changes in muscle strength and low sex drive. It happens when the testes do not produce enough of the sex hormone testosterone.
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A hormonal imbalance causes women with PCOS to have irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, excess acne and weight gain. It can lead to diabetes, increased risk of metabolic syndrome and infertility.
    • Osteoporosis: When a woman’s ovaries don’t produce enough estrogen, bones become brittle and weak. Although it is more common in women, men sometimes have osteoporosis when testosterone levels get too low. People with an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism) may also have weak bones.

    Detoxing The Endocrine System

    • Consumption of probiotics like yogurt and fermented vegetables can imbrove the balance of hormones in the body.
    • A sauna bath for 15 minutes can help detoxify the body.