The hypothalamus is important for a balanced state in the body. Its major role is to ensure regulation of the body’s internal balance (homeostasis.) An unbalanced hypothalamus throws most other hormones out of balance. It affects the pituitary gland and adrenal gland, which affects the endocrine system and nervous system.
The endocrine system is a network of glands that secrete hormones to ensure the body function properly. The hypothalamus is one of these glands and is essentially the link between the endocrine and the nervous system.
Activation of the Hypothalamus
The hypothalamus produces hormones that “stop and start the production of other hormones throughout the body.” It is constantly receiving and sending signals throughout the body and brain. Hypothalamus receives input from all parts of the nervous system such as: stress, microbes, light, odors, impulses from the reproductive tract, and other hormonal signals that regulate hunger and satiation.
Role in Balancing The Body
Fight or flight
The hypothalamus rapidly jumps into action when you are presented with a life-threatening situation or any other threat. It is responsible for redirecting bodily energy resources during these fight or flight situations. When you are in danger the hypothalamus suppresses your immunity by vasoconstriction, suppression of reproductive function, and inhibiting of bone and muscle growth. It stimulates energy mobilization in the liver, helping you fend off that lion, boss or present danger. It will also inhibit other hormonal systems to reduce expenditure of energy on processes unrelated to the immediate challenge.
When the threat is gone, the hypothalamus then acts to restore homeostatic. It replenishes lost energy stores by increasing glucose in the system. These restorative actions bring the body back to a normal or resting state.
Hormones in Regulating of the Body’s Homeostasis
The hypothalamus plays a vital role in many body functions and overall well-being. For example it helps regulate the body’s temperature by causing shivering to produce heat and blocks sweat production to retain heat. It also helps the body during childbirth, regulates blood pressure and heart rate, thirst, sleep cycles, sex drive and digestion.
The following primary hormones are produced by the hypothalamus with its important functions:
- Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), responds to physical and emotional stress.
- Anti-diuretic hormone (ACTH) is an important stress hormone. It triggers cortisol production, regulates water levels and affects blood pressure and volume.
- Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), plays a role in brain development, muscle control, digestion, metabolism, and heart.
- Growth Hormone-releasing hormone (GnRH) is involved in reproductive hormones; is responsible for physical development in children, metabolism in adults.
- Oxytocin controls important behaviors and emotions such as anxiety, sexual arousal, trust, recognition, and maternal behavior.
- Somatostatin inhibits the release of certain hormones, including glucagon and insulin.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone maintains reproductive function.
- Prolactin-releasing hormone (PRH), also known as dopamine, stimulates breast milk production.
Maintaining a Healthy Hypothalamus
We have seen the significance hormones have on our bodily functions. It is also worth noting that they must be in careful balance. Research shows that not enough or too much of any of these hormones “will affect the body’s health and well-being.” For example, too much TRH can cause weight loss or muscle weakness, while levels that are too low can cause weight gain, depression and fatigue. Eating healthy foods, exercise and will help the hypothalamus produce a balanced healthy body. Looking to make a change? The Urban Monk Academy helps you reconnect with yourself, find peace, and balance.