What You Need to Know About the Hypothalamus Gland
The Small Gland That Does Such a Huge Job
When considering Human Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy, the first gland that comes to mind is the pituitary gland. This is because the pituitary is the gland responsible for producing and secreting Growth Hormone.
Growth Hormone replacement therapy can help to maintain that all-important balance. Here’s a look at the crucial hypothalamus gland.
The hypothalamus acts as an internal regulator of many bodily functions, such as the electrode and fluid ratio, body weight and blood pressure.
It receives feedback from the body and makes the necessary adjustments to keep these functions in the correct balance.
An excellent way to look at the hypothalamus is to envision it as a “command message center,” acting as a link between the brain and the pituitary, adrenals and other organs by delivering the brain’s signals.
For a more precise, scientific explanation, the hypothalamus is a link between the central nervous system and the endocrine system. The body temperature, energy levels, and circadian rhythm are all in balance as a direct result of the hypothalamus.
For example, imagine that the brain receives a danger signal or stimulus.
Immediately, the message is sent to the hypothalamus, which then sends out corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone’s primary function is to act as the hypothalamus glands’ message service to the pituitary gland.
This results in the pituitary firing up adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which causes the adrenal glands to make cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.”
Through a series of complex chemical interactions, cortisol kicks in the body’s “fight-or-flight” mode and prepares us to deal with the danger.
This is done due to the many functions of cortisol. This hormone is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and prevents bleeding by drawing the blood from the surface and delivering it to the muscles.
At some point, the cortisol reaches the needed level, and the signal goes back to the hypothalamus to “switch off.” This is merely one of the life-saving roles that this tiny yet powerful hypothalamus gland plays. Here are several others — the hypothalamus gland:
Signals thirst and hunger
Helps to stabilize mood
Assists with metabolism and growth
Governs fluid and electrolyte balance, body weight, body temperature and blood pressure
Makes constant adjustments if any of these delicate balances are out-of-whack
Influences sleep cycles
The gland is located above the pituitary gland and the brain stem (medulla oblongata) and below the thalamus gland.
A Small but Mighty Engine
If all of the above functions weren’t enough, the hypothalamus has still more roles. In addition to the corticotropin-releasing hormone mentioned earlier, there are several more hormones secreted by the hypothalamus gland:
Oxytocin. Also known as “the love hormone” and “the cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is the hormone most responsible for cooperation and bonding, as well as processing social information. One fascinating fact: oxytocin is antagonistic to the powerful male hormone testosterone. But the two different hormones need each other. Testosterone is ideal for aggression as necessary (in serious competition), and oxytocin, which is perfect for when the day is done, the (“hunt”) is over, and it’s time to calm down, switch off the aggression and return to the family. Men will quite often have higher levels of testosterone than oxytocin. But a healthy hypothalamus will strive to keep oxytocin levels adequate.
Vasopressin, also known as Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone’s task is to retain sufficient levels of water in the body. Vasopressin swings into action when the body is suffering from dehydration. It does this by slowing down the kidneys to reduce the flow of urine. In large amounts, vasopressin can also increase blood pressure by causing moderate vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood vessels as a result of tightening their walls), thus conserving more bodily fluid. Also, some users of vasopressin analogs (compounds of related molecular constructions) report brain-boosting benefits and consider vasopressin a nootropic (smart drugs and cognitive enhancers). Many have claimed rapid, temporary improvements in writing, speaking, memory, and overall mental clarity when faced with a need for peak mental performance, such as giving a speech or taking an exam.
Prolactin-releasing hormone (PRH). As the name of this hormone implies, it releases Prolactin (PRL). Prolactin stimulates production and secretion of milk and also plays a vital role in motherhood by raising levels of oxytocin, which develops a heightened degree of sensitivity and allows deep bonding between mother and baby.
Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). This hormone stimulates the release of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This hormone is produced by the hypothalamus and released, then moves through the median eminence to the pituitary gland, where it begins to secrete Thyroid Stimulating Hormone to balance the levels of Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones are essential internal regulators of the body and perform a wide array of functions.
Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GH-RH). This vital hormone stimulates the release of Growth Hormone, which is the building block of the human body. Growth Hormone is responsible for building muscle tissue, rejuvenating cells, maintaining optimal mental function, easing joint aches and pains, and sending energy shooting through the body
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone is released by the hypothalamus into small blood vessels to the pituitary gland, where it produces two other hormones: Follicle-stimulating hormone and Luteinizing hormone. These hormones flow into general circulation and act directly on the testes and ovaries to initiate and maintain their reproductive functions. As with other hormones, the level of both these substances is a delicate balance: too low concentrations will prevent a child from developing through puberty. Excessively high levels will result in a condition called pituitary adenomas (tumors). Fortunately, this rarely occurs.
Problems with the Hypothalamus
Due to the proximity of the hypothalamus to several other glands, injury to the gland can have a significant number of adverse effects.
Worse, it can be challenging for physicians to determine if the cause of the problems originate in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.
Women undergoing long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may experience their estrogen receptors breaking down in the hypothalamus, leaving them more vulnerable to cancer.
Exercise seems to offer the best prevention against this problem.
Fortunately, hormone blood tests are valid and point the doctors in the right direction.
When undergoing hormone replacement therapy at our clinic, we will continuously monitor this all-important gland.
As you can see, the hypothalamus is indeed “a small but mighty engine.”
This gland plays a role in so many of the body’s internal functions that it is tempting to ask: “what happens in the body that this gland does not have a hand in?” The answer: “Not much”!
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