What does the endocrine system do?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, and reproduction. In general, the endocrine system is in charge of body processes that happen slowly, such as cell growth. Faster processes like breathing and body movement are controlled by the nervous system. The endocrine and central nervous system are separate systems, but they work closely together regulate every body function properly through the neuroendocrine pathway.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Think about all the dials, switches, and controls that give you the power to regulate virtually every system in your house. And think about this: The same emotion that flavors the furniture, artwork, and moose on the wall also makes your regulators work, too (you regulate because you care about your home).

Most times, everything functions fine, and you barely even notice how your house works. But what would happen if your regulators failed-or if you ignored them? You'd experience all different levels of problems. At best, you'd sweat through a July heat wave (without AC), run up your water bill (without faucets), or scorch the salmon (without temperature control on the oven), and treat your home with the same care as a booth at McDonald's.

At worst, the lack of regulatory controls and love in your home could mean you'd flood the bathroom, trigger an electrical fire, or die of hypothermia or loneliness in a January blizzard. In your house, all of theses systems release essential elements to keep your house running smoothly-whether it's heat, water, or power-and you living comfortably.

That's really the job of your endocrine system: a system of glands throughout your body that release essential hormones to keep your body fine-tuned to function well-and comfortably.

Most of these hormones do grandma's work; they perform good deeds without anyone ever noticing, and you live a good life because of all they do. These glands regulate themselves, so you rarely have to worry about switching anything on or off, or turning any knobs (except in the privacy of your own bedroom). That doesn't mean that you should ignore your hormones; in fact, there are many ways to help regulate the hormones in your body.

Picture of the male endocrine glands
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

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Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.