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Understanding the Actions of Hormones
by Dr. Ram Garg


Editor´s Note from Sonica Krishan: Another interesting article submission by Dr. Ram Garg where the author lays emphasis on the understanding of the actions of hormones on human body. While he explains about the hormones and their functioning, he also correlates the hormones with Ayurveda perception of the same. Please have a read. Thank you.

What is a hormone - this enigmatic beast that is blamed by so many (male and female) for their troubles? What is this all-powerful force that can bring joy or sorrow so quickly? Well, actually, no one knows. In the scientific community, there is great honesty about the actual lack of understanding of the endocrine function. Although much is known, much is still mysterious.

Endocrine glands are glands that secrete something directly into the blood stream. Exocrine glands secrete something through a duct, like saliva or sweat. A few organs, like the pancreas, have both an endocrine and exocrine function. Endocrine glands secrete messengers, or hormones. These are often called factors, as they are the main factors, or links, for a metabolic function.

The endocrine system works very closely with the nervous system. As the nervous system is primarily related to the VATA Dosha - the humour of movement - much of the hormonal function relates to Vata. As PITA is primarily related to metabolic change and control in the body, those endocrine glands and hormones that directly control metabolism, relate to PITA. Examples will be given as we proceed. So in essence, a hormone is a tiny messenger. When you eat an apple, a hormone is responsible for releasing the right kind of saliva, the right kind of stomach acids, and so on, throughout the whole digestive process.

Hormones are behind every function in your body the reproductive functions and menstruation of women are only one aspect of the hormonal system. Hence, anything that disturbs other aspects of the endocrine gland will tend to disrupt the menstrual cycle. These include dietary, climatic and emotional disruptions.

The first part of the endocrine system is actually not an endocrine gland. It is the front part of the brain located on the floor of the third ventricle, the hypothalamus. It is connected to the thalamus and the pituitary gland and serves to bridge them.  Thus it is one of the main connections between the nervous system (thalamus) and the hormonal system (pituitary). The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, water balance, and sexual function, among other things. It is related to emotions and sleep, and governs all of this by regulating the automatic functioning of the nervous system through the pituitary gland. Not all of its functions are completely understood.

In Ayurveda we consider it as our Crown Chakra (SAHRADHRA) which takes care of harmony with our relationship. Relationship not only between different systems of our own but also between us and nature, between us and our belongings, between us and emotions; and as long as that relationship is in harmony all hormones will be normal.

The second part of the endocrine system is the pituitary gland. This is the brain of the hormonal system. It relates a complex variety of hormones that control growth, protein synthesis, sexual functions, and the metabolic function in general. It actually controls so many hormone secretions that not all have been isolated or understood. It controls these secretions by receiving information from the brain (the hypothalamus either stimulates or inhibits) and the many other endocrine glands, via a complex feedback system.

The third endocrine gland is the pineal gland. The role of the pineal gland is perhaps the one least understood by modern allopathic medicine. The pineal gland produces metatonin (along with the serotonin). In fact, there is much that is unknown about the function of these two hormones. They are known to interact with the adrenals, thyroid, testes, and ovaries. While theories abound, much more research needs to be done, since any hormonal imbalance can greatly affect the whole endocrine system.

 Ayurveda considers that one major function of the pineal gland is to link the physical and the subtle bodies. Thus, before understanding these 2 glands Ayurvedically, we need to understand the Ayurvedic aspect of human beings.

Ayurvedically a human being is two halves joined together. They are made up of two poles: SHIVA (positive) and SHAKTI (negative). There should be always a balance between these two poles. This is controlled by a point between the third eye and the back of skull. We call it TRATAK CHAKRA. This controls all functions of our body.

The fourth gland is the thyroid. It controls the basic metabolic function of the body. It also controls growth in the young and has a role in regulating calcium in the blood. Not all of the functions of the thyroid are understood.

The fifth endocrine function is controlled by the Parathyroid which regulates the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. This balance is critical for good bone growth and maintenance. Some aspects of the parathyroid glands are not completely known.

The sixth endocrine gland is the thymus. Much of its role remains a mystery to modern science. It is known to play a role in growth and immune function. Ayurveda considers the thymus to be related to KAPHA and, to some extent, to the concept of Ojas. According to Ayurveda, the thymus continues to play an important role in adults.

These three glands in Ayurveda are under 5th Chakra (VISHUDHA). This is main centre of creation. All creations, all poetry, paintings and all skills come from here. When we are stuck with our creative forces this chakra is blocked giving rise to problems in these hormones.



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About the Author
Dr. Ram Garg is an Ayurvedic doctor currently running a Panchkarma Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. He did his BAMS from Kurukshetra University, India followed by a Post Graduate Degree in Alternate Healing and a Diploma in Panchakarma. Dr Garg works in Rishikesh for Panchkarma and Ayurvedic retreat and  specializes in the interpretation of Ancient Indian Wisdom, so as to restore balance and mental well being. He has developed special herbal preparations to work on Psycho-Somatic Conditions. Dr Ram's motto is to explore Ancient Eastern Wisdom and to present its secrets to everyone in a practical form.


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