Although we rarely think about the endocrine system, it influences almost every cellular function in our body.
The endocrine system plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.
The endocrine system includes the areas in our body that regulate and produce hormones. Hormones act as messengers that allow our cells to communicate and produce a coordinated effect. Without our endocrine system, various parts of the body would work independently from one another.
Some of the organs that produce hormones include: the pineal gland (aka “the third eye), the thyroid, the pancreas, the ovaries and testes and the adrenal glands. The hormone levels fluctuate through the day and are released in a pulsating manner throughout the hour, day and month. This release is set by the circadian rhythm.
Melatonin can be considered the re-set button for the circadian rhythm as it allows the body to recover and repair from daily activities. Melatonin is produced during the stage of deep sleep, making good healthy sleep critical for balancing the endocrine system.
What are the top factors that unbalance the endocrine system?
1. Inadequate sleep.
2. Environmental pollutants like exhaust and paint fumes, pesticides, heavy metals, smoking and estrogens found in water bottles and makeup.
3. A lack of Vitamin D from not getting out in the sun. Vitamin D is a potent modulator of the endocrine system, especially with the sex hormones.
4. Stress will cause a consistent rise in cortisol from the adrenals. This will alter neurotransmitter production and will deplete nutrients needed to produce other hormones and neurotransmitters.
These stressors will steal the production line away from other needed hormones and burn through key nutrients such as the B vitamins, zinc and Vitamin C. Stress can be more than just an emotional stress, it can also be from a physical stress such as imbalanced blood sugar, chronic pain and disease, inflammation, food allergies and indigestion.
Nature’s Top Two Medicines for Endocrine Health
Eleuthero, also known as “Siberian Ginseng,” is an adaptogenic herb commonly recommend for people with endocrine system conditions. The main function of this herb is to reduce the effects of stress on the body. By being an adaptogenic herb, it helps the body adapt to environmental and physical stressors.
Eleuthero has also been used by athletes to help improve performance and to minimize the effects of competitive stress. It can sometimes help counter the side effects associated with treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Eleuthero is immune modulating, so it can benefit those people with autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Of course, just as is the case with any herb, the effectiveness of Eleuthero depends on the dosage, the part of the plant used and the quality of the herb.
Suma, aka Para Todo (For All Things) is called “Brazilian Ginseng” by some herbalists and is one of the most highly valued South American plants. While not a true member of the Panax ginseng family, it is an authentic adaptogenic herb, and as such brings about a normalizing effect on your body and can help regulate and enhance your endocrine, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular and immune systems. South American Natives have used Suma to treat wounds, skin rashes, low energy and sexual dysfunction.
Suma also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate chronic and acute pain. The root is also quite valuable nutritionally as it contains essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements. The overall effect is to provide an increased resistance to stress while having a cell-building and regenerating effect. Suma root is becoming quite popular because of its high content of several plant hormones.
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Author: Johnny Bailik
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Travis May
Photo: planetchopstick via Flickr