Vital Organs and Glands
Learning about your body is the first step in taking care of it.
The adrenal glands are two triangular-shaped glands that are a part of the endocrine system which sits on top of your kidneys.
The adrenal glands consist of an inner layer (medulla) and an outer layer (cortex). The inner core or medulla produces very important hormones known as catecholamines. Two of the most important catecholamines are adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones are what enables the body to deal with stressful situations, increases our alertness and gives us that burst of energy to do thing we wouldn’t be able to do under normal circumstances.
The outer layer of the adrenal gland produces hormones called corticosteroids. Here are three types of corticosteroids none as: Glucocorticoids, Mineralocorticoids and Sex Hormones.
- Mineralocorticoids: Regulates the sodium and potassium content within the body.
- Glucocorticoids: Helps to regulate blood pressure, immune system and also helps the body to overcome physical stress.
- Sex Hormones: Helps to regulate sexual development and reproductive system.
The bladder is an expandable balloon-shaped organ that is located in your pelvis. The job of the bladder is to collect waste or urine from the kidneys and excrete it from your body through your urethra upon receiving signals from the brain. A healthy bladder can hold about two cups of urine for two to five hours.
The brain, the most complex organ in the human body, is the head of the nervous system. One of the key functions of the brain is to interpret information received from the body and generate responses in accordance to the message received. The brain regulates all activities within the body through its control over every organ.
There are three main sections of the brain:
- Brainstem, connects the brain to the spinal cord, it consists of the medulla oblongata, pons and midbrain. Its primary job is to regulate automatic functions such as blood pressure, breathing, digestion and heart beat.
- Cerebellum, controls coordination and balance. Without the cerebellum you will not be able to do something as simple as riding a bicycle; you will basically become very clumsy and very hesitant in making any decision.
- Cerebrum, is the largest part of the brain. It is responsible for feelings, memory, movement and solving problems.
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ connected to the liver whose job is to store a digestive liquid known as bile which is secreted by the liver. Bile is for the purpose of helping the body digest fat and neutralize acidity. This liquid is deposited into the small intestine through a series of tubes known as ducts. Common issues that affects the gallbladder is the formation of gallstones from the crystallization of the substances it contains.
The heart is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body to keep us alive. The heart, which is at the center of our circulatory system, beats about 100,000 times per day and pumping five to six quarts of blood each minute. Our body has two circulatory systems; the pulmonary circulatory system is a connection to the heart and lungs for the purpose of circulating oxygen. The other is the systemic circulatory system, the one everyone’s if familiar with that pumps blood throughout the body.
The heart has four chambers, two at its upper part, which is for the purpose of receiving blood and two at its lower part, which carries blood out of the heart and throughout the body.
The hypothalamus, which about the size of a pea; is located above the brainstem. It administrates physiologic functions such as hunger, mood, sex drive, sleep, temperature regulation and thirst. One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is to connect the nervous system to the endocrine system by way of the pituitary gland. Another major function of the hypothalamus is to keep the body in a stable and balanced condition.
The hypothalamus produces hormones that regulate the adrenal cortex, gonads, growth, thyroid gland and prolactin, which is necessary for producing milk. It is also responsible for producing two other very important hormones, anti-diuretic hormone and oxytocin. Anti-diuretic hormone regulates water retention in the body. Oxytocin is very important for women during labor as it regulates the contraction of the uterus. Also known as the “cuddle hormone”, it plays a major role in love, affection and bonding.
The intestine is a part of the digestive tract that lives between the stomach and the anus. After food is broken down in the stomach it is deposited in the small intestine for further digestion. The leftovers or trash from our food then gets dumped into our large intestine and excreted as waste.
The intestine is divided into two major portions, the small intestine and the large intestine. The small intestine which is about 20 feet long is divided into three sections called, ileum, jejunum and upper. The large intestine is about five feet and is divided into six parts; ascending colon, cecum, descending colon, rectum, sigmoid colon and transverse colon.
There are two kidneys in the human body, one on the left side of our body and one on the right. The primary function of the kidneys is to remove toxic waste, excess salts, and urea (nitrogen-based waste) from the blood. This waste is collected as what is known as urine and then gets deposited into the bladder where it then gets excreted out the body through the urethra.
The kidneys helps to regulate the water levels in our body by proportionately adjusting the amount it removes in accordance to how much is taken in. The kidneys also regulates blood pressure, and acidic levels.
The liver is the largest internal organ of the body and weighs about 3 pounds. The liver is divided into two lobes which allow it to receive blood from the heart and also the gastrointestinal tracts. The liver is very essential to the body and has a critical job of filtering blood coming from the digestive tract before it gets distributed throughout the body. The liver is responsible for producing about 80% of the cholesterol in our body.
Other important jobs of the liver includes: breaking down fasts, converting glucose to glycogen, removing harmful substances from the blood, producing urea, maintaining proper levels of glucose in the blood, storing minerals and removing old blood cells.
The Lungs are paired organs, each one having a length of about ten to twelve inches long. There is one lungs on each side of the chest that is responsible for taking in air into the body and pushing out bad gases. Each time we inhale air, it first enters our nasal passage; then goes through our trachea (windpipe) and separates into its tubular branches, called bronchi and into our lungs where it gets absorbed by our alveoli before entering our bloodstream.
The ovaries are the most important organs of the female reproductive system with the size of an almond. They are located in the pelvis cavity, one on each side of the uterus and connected by the fallopian tube. The ovaries has two primary functions, to produce eggs and female hormones including estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen regulates mammary glands and uterus during puberty. This hormone is also responsible for preventing the deterioration of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle. Progesterone aids in the development process of the embryo in the womb during pregnancy.
The pancreas is a yellowish looking organ about seven inches long that is located below the stomach. The pancreas is a very important part of the digestive system and also having the critical job of regulating blood sugar levels. The pancreas is responsible for the secretion of two hormones insulin and glucagon. These hormones work together to regulate the glucose level in the blood.
Glucagon helps the body convert unprocessed sugar that enters the liver into useful energy; while insulin makes it easy for the body to absorb it.
The pineal is located at the center of the brain and it is known as the regulator of the regulators due to it control over all biological functions. In ancient cultures such as the native Egyptians (Africans), the pineal is acknowledged as the spiritual eye. The pineal regulates our biological functions by the production of two hormones, melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin, which is a precursor to Melanin, is the most important and powerful of the two hormones. It regulates our circadian rhythm, growth and development, rejuvenates the body, sleep and all other biological activities you can think about. Serotonin supplies the body with strength and energy and it is also a natural tranquilizer that numbs the intensity of pain. This is a very brief overview of the pineal and the hormones it secretes. Stay tuned as dig further into its additional functions.
The pituitary gland, about the size of a pea, is located at the base of the brain and is composed of three lobes, anterior, intermediate and posterior.
- Prolactin, stimulates the production of breast milk after childbirth, regulates sex hormone levels and also fertility.
- Growth hormone, stimulates growth in children, fat distribution, supports muscle and bone mass.
- Adrenocorticotropin, stimulates the production of cortisol and helps to maintain blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone, stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid releasing hormones, which regulate our body’s metabolism, energy level, growth and nervous system.
- Luteinizing hormone, stimulates testosterone production in men and eggs in women.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone, stimulates the production of sperm production in men and stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen and eggs in women.
- Melanocyte stimulating hormone, stimulates the body to produce Melanin
- Antidiuretic hormone, regulates water levels in the body.
- Oxytocin, stored by the pituitary, induces lactation and also regulates contraction of the uterus during labor.
The prostate, located between the bladder and penis, is a part of the male reproductive system. The prostate secretes fluids that are responsible for nourishing and protecting the sperm. This alkaline fluid gets secreted as semen upon ejaculation by way of the urethra.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, measuring 20 square feet. The skin helps regulate body temperature and also gives us the ability to feel sensations such as heat and cold.
One of the primary functions of the skin is to produce Melanocytes, which are special cells that produce skin Melanin. Skin Melanin has two primary functions, to absorb Sunlight that is then digested as food for our cells and to retrieve information from our environment.
The skin consist of three layers
- Epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, responsible for keeping water in the body and prevents bacteria from entering the body.
- Dermis, the cushioning layer of skin beneath the epidermis that protects the body from stress and strain; it also consists of connective tissues, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
- Hypodermis, consist of fat and connective tissue that attaches the skin to underlying bones and muscles.
The spleen, located at the upper-left part of your abdomen, is a storage house for the blood. It is responsible for supplying the body with blood in case of emergency situations such as excessive bleedings from cuts and other injuries. The spleen plays other vital roles including recycling old blood cells, platelets and helps to combat bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.
The stomach, which connects the esophagus to the small intestine, primary job is to digest the foods we consume daily. The stomach is about 12 inches long and is 6 inches. When we eat, the food goes down our esophagus and into our stomach, gastric acid then get produced by our stomach to help dissolve the food before it enters into our small intestine.
Heart burns is felt as a result of gastric acid escaping the stomach and traveling up the walls of the esophagus. The stomach has two valves or sphincters that prevent this from happening, however, when we overeat or eat foods that are hard to breakdown, it causes gastric acid to spill.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the back of the neck. The thyroid has influence on every cell, organ and tissue in the body. It is responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, body weight, energy, menstruation and muscle strength.
The thyroid does its job through the secretion of three hormones, thyroxine (T4), tri-iodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin.