The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is a control system of ductless glands that secrete chemical messengers called hormones that circulate within the body via the bloodstream to affect distant cells within specific organs. Endocrine glands secrete their products immediately into the blood or interstitial fluid, without storage of the chemical. Hormones act as "messengers," and are carried by the bloodstream to different cells in the body, which interpret these messages and act on them
It seems like a far fetched notion or idea that a small chemical can enter the bloodstream and cause an action at a distant location in the body. Yet this occurs in our bodies everyday of our lives. The ability to maintain homeostasis and respond to stimuli is largely due to hormones secreted within the body. Without hormones, you could not grow, maintain a constant temperature, produce offspring, or perform the basic actions and functions that are essential for life. The endocrine system provides an electrochemical connection from the hypothalamus of the brain to all the organs that control the body metabolism, growth and development, and reproduction. There are two types of hormones secreted in the endocrine system: 1. steroidal and 2. nonsteroidal, or protein based hormones. The endocrine system regulates its hormones through negative feedback, except in very specific cases like childbirth. Increases in hormone activity decrease the production of that hormone. The immune system and other factors contribute as control factors also, altogether maintaining constant levels of hormones.