The Endocrine System
“The Endocrine System is like a fine-tuned symphony orchestrating the tempo of your life. Are you feeling stressed, moody, happy, tired, thirsty, hungry, is there a feeling of “chemistry” between you and another? All these are the result of your ES. Manufacturing chemical messengers called hormones which stimulate biological reactions in your cells. They control your response to stress, emotions, sleep, growth, sex and eating patterns."
The endocrine system is a well-constructed web of hormonal reactions that propel a number of other actions influenced by factors in your health, lifestyle choices, and your daily stress levels. The endocrine system functions as the chemical messenger system in your body. Imagine your hormones sending written messages and instructions to arrive at the place they're supposed to. Whatever message they receive, is ultimately how the react. Hormones like insulin, cortisol, stress management abilities, weight and healthy history. Estrogen, leptin, ghrelin, serotonin, testosterone, and many others are all affected by your diet, sleep habits, stress management abilities, weight and health history. They trigger responses in your body depending on the messages they are given.
- Pituitary, thyroid
- Pancreas- plays a roll in hormone production + digestion
Some Key Considerations
Since this is a detox program of biggest concern is the myriad toxins we are exposed to daily that are endocrine disruptors. They linger as contaminants in air, water, food, and soil. There are hundreds of chemicals in drinking water, household air, dust, treated tap water and food. They come from household products like detergent, insulation, fabric treatments, cosmetics, paints, upholstery, computers and TVs. These chemicals accumulate in fat, blood, and organs, or are passed through the body in breast milk, urine, feces, sweat, semen, hair and nails. Toxins deregulate all of our systems; however, it’s in the endocrine and nervous systems the damage is graphically seen. Reports started coming out 20+ years ago of male fish and frogs changing sex, producing eggs because of toxins in the water. This is a very vast subject and way too much to cover here. I’ll have some links in our journal for those who want to delve more deeply into the research. The latest figures from 2012 show there are 10,000 companies producing 75,000 chemicals in the USA.
In a nutshell chemicals act like hormones (especially estrogens) and interact with hormone systems. There are three classes of disruptors which:
- Mimic hormones
- Block hormones
- Trigger hormones
The consequences reduce the production of hormones, affect the release of hormones, reduction in male fertility and low sperm count, abnormalities in male reproductive organs, the phenomenon of “gynecomastia,” in common language known as man boobs, or moobs because of overexposure to xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens. Female reproductive diseases, earlier puberty, reproductive and developmental issues, in a number of regions and countries fewer boys than girls are being born.
COLOR ASSOCIATED WITH THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM: GREEN
Green is the color most associated with the endocrine system because foods like cilantro, parsley, dandelion, avocados and seaweed help to balance your hormonal health. Also, chlorella and spirulina are excellent at detoxifying toxins. Green foods are amazing sources of chlorophyll, a great detoxification nutrient. Chlorophyll helps cleanse your cells of waste-like added hormones and harmful chemicals that are in a lot of animal products. These greens are also a rich source of amino acids your body uses to make protein.
Spices good for the endocrine system: saffron, fenugreek, fennel, cloves, garlic, ginger, cayenne, basil, cardamom, and nutmeg.
Fenugreek and cardamom is believed to increase sex drive in women with low libido. Fenugreek also appears to increase HGH, Human Growth Hormone. Clove increases blood flow and raises body temperature. Garlic and ginger increase blood flow to sex organs. In Africa nutmeg is considered the “Viagra for women”. There is an animal study at Aligarh University where nutmeg was tested as an aphrodisiac.
Essential oils: There is a classification of herbs/oils called adaptogens. These are smart essential oils, as they know just what to give you when you need it - either stimulating or relaxing. They are: basil, lavender, anise, licorice, lemon, myrtle, clary sage, geranium and lemongrass.
Herbs/teas: Gymnema sylvestre, dahlia, black currant oil, bitter melon, annato, maca root, chasteberry, passion flower, black cohash, and saw palmetto. Adaptogenic herbs would be ginseng, ginkgo, astragalus and ashwaghanda.
Burdock root and dandelion root make a very good cleansing endocrine tonic tea. Valarian, goldenseal, and chamomile. Licorice and wild yam in particular support the adrenals.
Functional Foods that support the Endocrine System
All leafy greens, actually most veggies, root veggies, artichoke, yams, sweet potato, pear, pomegranate, berries; as well as plant-based proteins such as all beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, especially almonds and sunflower seeds, sea vegetables. Mostly all herbs and spices are beneficial to the endocrine system as they are rich in antioxidants. Maca, pollen (unless you are allergic to bee stings), honey and royal jelly are rich sources of bioflavonoids that help release hormones in a balanced way. Healthy fats are essential - those that one from avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil and healthy started fats as they are the raw material our bodies need to create hormones. Avocado and sweet potatoes lower stress, increase serotonin and provide a healthier mood. Healthy fats such as Brazil nuts and coconut support the thyroid.
Nuts and seeds are magnesium rich and help stabilize insulin levels and lower cortisol levels, which can shock your endocrine system if too high.
These foods help counter the xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens we encounter in our environment, especially through factor-farmed animal products.
Great ways to get more greens into your body would be to juice. A few good combinations are:
- Cucumbers, collards, kale, spinach, ginger, and granny apples
- Kale, spinach, green apples, pineapple, lemon, ginger and celery
Making a nice chimichurri sauce to go with roasted vegetables, chicken, fish, buffalo or grasped beef is another way to get lots of greens in. Plus the fat from the olive oil is excellent for the endocrine system.
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup parsley
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 shallot
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 Serrano pepper, ribs and seeds removed
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
You can add, take away herbs as you like, change the acid, etc.
Foods to avoid:
There are definitely foods that can wreak havoc on your endocrine system. They are sugar, alcohol, and coffee. Dairy contains numerous natural hormones that may not be beneficial combined with your hormones.
Key nutrients that help the endocrine system
Selenium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, calcium, amino acids, trace minerals, fermented cod liver oil, gelatin, coconut oil, vitamin D, B vitamins. The interconnectivity of the nervous system and the endocrine system is seen very powerfully when it comes to neurotransmitters. GABA, dopamine, and serotonin (the happiness hormone) of which 90% is produced in the gut are all inter-connected.
Movement + Exercise
Yoga, tai chi, and qigong raise hormone levels of GABA and endorphins while reducing stress. Any exercise that you enjoy but does not put too much stress on your system is beneficial for the endocrine system.
- Standing Head to Knee - This pose balances blood sugar and stimulates the thymus, thyroid, kidneys, and pancreas. Start in mountain pose. Lift your right knee and hold with both hands. Inhale, and then exhale. On your next inhale, move your hands down and hold the right foot, and when exhaling, kick out the right leg. Hold your right leg out at a 90° angle. Drop your elbows alongside the calf have as you lower your head to your knee. Hold for two breath cycles before releasing to the other side. Beginners will probably feel more comfortable simply holding them close to the torso.
- Rabbit pose - this pose stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid. It also helps with depression. Start extending the arms back and grasped the soles of the feet. Tuck that chin into the chest as you round forward hinging at the hips and dropping the head to the floor, forehead touching the knees. Lift the hips as you rest the crown of the head on the floor. Rest comfortably for a few cycles of relaxed breathing
Easy Sitting Pose - slow and deliberate breathing reroutes hormonal signals and calms the adrenal gland to reduce stress and help alleviate postpartum depression. Sit on a folded blanket at least two inches thick, preferably higher. Cross your legs at the shins and rest your hands in your lap palms up. Keep your posture straits, but let your pelvis rest. Inhale and extend your chin and spine forward, then quickly exhale rounding your back.
Day One Focus: Guard (xenoestrogens, phytoestrogens)
Day Two Focus: Balance
Day Three Focus: Sleep
Affirmations for a healthy Endocrine System
I allow myself to be fluid and not rigid, engaging in life fully. My endocrine systems are healthy and fully signaling.
My endocrine system is like a beautiful symphony where all parts are beautifully balanced, sending forth a magnificent sound.
The foods that I eat nourish and care for my endocrine system, bring harmonious balance.
- Meditate on your thyroid gland and all it controls: metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is covered into energy. It’s shaped like a butterfly. Think about the beauty and delicateness of a butterfly, such is your thyroid.
- Meditate on the importance of avoiding excessive stress, sleeping well, and avoiding environmental toxins and in so doing, you are nourishing and loving your endocrine system.
- Meditate on the symphony that your endocrine system is. You are the conductor and have control in how harmoniously the symphony will be played. Each part of your endocrine system is an instrument that makes up the whole orchestra. 71 hormones released by 11 glands is quite an orchestra indeed!