With a teenaged daughter in the house, I find it hard to say that hormones are a good thing. But hormones and the glands of the endocrine system that produce them influence almost every cell, organ, and function in our bodies.
Hormones regulate our mood, growth, development, tissue function, reproduction, and metabolism. They are the body’s chemical messengers, transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another, and are influenced by factors such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in the blood.
Here are a few examples:
- Growth hormone – stimulates the growth or bone and other body tissues
- Prolactin – stimulates milk production in women who are breast feeding
- Oxytocin – triggers uterine contractions during labor
- Endorphins – chemicals that act on the nervous system to reduce sensitivity to pain
- Antidiuretic hormone – helps control body’s water balance through its effect on the kidneys and urine output
- Thyroid hormones – controls the rate cells burn fuels from food to produce energy
- Parathyroid hormone – regulates the level of calcium in the blood
- Corticosteroids – regulates salt and water balance in the body as well as the body’s response to stress, metabolism, the immune system, and sexual development
- Epinephrine – increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body experiences stress
- Melatonin – helps regulate the wake-sleep cycle
- Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone – regulate body changes during sexual development, the production of eggs and sperm, and are involved in pregnancy and the menstrual cycle
- Insulin and glucagon – work together to maintain a steady level of sugar in the blood and keep the body supplied with the fuel for energy
Too much or too little of a certain hormone and the body is dangerously out of balance. (Just think about conditions like diabetes or congenital adrenal hyperplasia where the body can’t hold onto salt because it doesn’t make certain hormones.) Through an intricate system of checks, balances, and constant feedback, the endocrine system keeps us living in the safety zone.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV)
Creation declares there is a place of safety where we should live … with warning signs when we’re out of balance.
What about you? Is your life out of balance? Do you recognize the warning signs? How do you stay in the safe range?