So many things that occur in the human body are explained by citing hormone functioning, that the basic question, what is a hormone begs to be asked. The simple answer to the question is that hormones are chemicals produced by glands or cells in the body that regulate a host of bodily functions.
So then what is a hormone and what is its effect in the human body?
Hormones control and regulate so many aspects of the body’s functioning such as stimulation or inhibition of growth. Imbalances in hormone secretion could mean stunted growth on the one hand and secretion of greater amounts of hormones at certain times in life can mean growth spurts on the other.
Hormones can control mood and emotions. Whereas they can cause elation they are equally capable of making us feel sad and angry.
And what is a hormone in terms of the body’s immune function? Hormones are also able to activate or suppress the body’s immune system.
They regular metabolism, prepare the body for reproduction, self preservation (the fight or flight response) and even dictate to a large extent how much and what we eat.
Let us look at what is a hormone as we commonly understand the term and its respective functions –
Melatonin is the hormone that has an antioxidant effect on the body and which also causes drowsiness.
Serotonin is what impacts important bodily functions such as sleep, mood and appetite.
Epinephrine or Adrenaline controls the body’s fight or flight response, by boosting oxygen supply to the limbs and brain when required. These hormones also are responsible for suppressing the immune system.
Dopamine or the prolactin inhibiting hormone can increase blood pressure and also the heart rate of the body.
Ghrelin is a hormone that is known to stimulate the appetite and is also responsible for secretion of the growth hormone.
Human chorionic gonadotropin is the hormone that lets a woman sustain a pregnancy by suppressing the body’s immune response to the embryo.
Growth hormones are responsible for stimulating growth and cell reproduction.
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates intake of glucose and controls processes such as glycogenesis and glycolysis in the muscles and the liver.
Leptin – This hormone answers the question what is a hormone that is opposite in function to the hormone ghrelin. Leptin decreases the appetite and increases the metabolism of the body.
Luteinizing Hormone is closely connected to ovulation among women.
Prolactin is an important hormone for women because it governs milk production and is also responsible for the feelings of gratification that having sex can impart.
Progesterone is one of the most important female hormones that makes pregnancy possible and also has many other regulatory functions in the body.
Estrogen is another one of the primary female hormones and has bearing not only on fetal development but is also a very important factor for mental health.
While this is far from a complete list of the hormones that are necessary for the functioning of the human body, they do at least answer the question what is a hormone to a limited extent; in order to give us an idea of the many important functions a hormone performs.