Glands in the human body manufacture,
control and regulate the flow of hormones, breast milk, saliva,
tears, urine, sweat, antibodies, salt and
other useful fluids and compounds.
Mental stress and anxiety influences the flow of hormones
and other fluids. Glands are classified as ducted and
Ducted glands, also called exocrine
glands, secrete some chemicals through ducts.
Ductless glands are called endocrine
glands. Glands receive signals from the brain to release useful
fluids. Endocrine glands release hormones directly into the
The word hormone
was derived from the Greek word hormodezein which means "to arouse."
While many hormones do arouse to create action in glands and organs,
their primary function is to regulate glands and organs.
Hormones are the chemical messengers which facilitate
the communication between the brain and the organs.
As the nervous
system uses nerves to send the required information, the glands in
the human body use blood vessels as information channels.
Disorders of the glands in the
body include or can result in the following conditions:
These look like caps sitting on top of each
kidney. Each adrenal is composed of two distinct regions: an outer area
called the adrenal cortex and an inner part called the adrenal medulla.
Produces hormones that belong to a group of
chemical compounds known as corticosteroids, corticoids or just
steroids. The adrenal cortex makes many different steroids. The exact
number is not known, but it is believed to be over 30. The adrenal
cortex has three layers and each layer produces different
corticosteroids. The steroids corresponding to the three layers are: the mineralocorticoid (outer layer), glucocorticoids (middle layer) and the
androgenic steroids (inner layer).
Mineralocorticoids Aldosterone is the main
mineralocorticoid. It functions to cause the kidneys to reabsorb
sodium and excrete
potassium. This helps to keep these two ions in balance.
Hydrocortisone is the principle
glucocorticoid. Hydrocortisone help regulate the metabolism of
fats. It also helps humans cope with stress. Glucocorticoids cause a
rapid destruction of certain white blood cells, thereby lowering
resistance to disease. Because they depress the immune system,
glucocorticoids are used to treat many autoimmune diseases. The
production of glucocorticoids is under the control of the
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is produced by action of the
These hormones are called androgens and are
male sex hormones. Testosterone is the main androgen. While the adrenals
of males and females produce near equal amounts of androgens, males have
an additional supply of androgens produced by the testes.
If the adrenal cortex produces insufficient amounts of glucocorticoids
and mineralocorticoids the result is called Addison's Disease. The
symptoms of Addison's include: electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, muscular
weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of weight, low blood pressure and
excess pigmentation of the skin (bronzing). Addison's Disease can often
be controlled with hormone replacement therapy. Excess production of
ACTH or a tumour within the adrenal cortex results in Cushing's Disease.
The symptoms of Cushing's include: obesity, high blood pressure, a round
"moon" face, muscular weakness, a tendency to bruise easily and poor
healing of skin lesions.
Produces epinephrine and norepinephrine,
often called adrenalin and noradrenaline. Both of these hormones are
involved in the stress reaction called the "fight or flight response."
When confronted with danger, these two hormones prepare our body to
fight or to run. These hormones constrict the blood vessels of the
kidneys and digestive system, dilate blood vessels in the heart and
brain, raise blood pressure, and increase respiration. They constrict
the blood vessels of the skin so that we will lose less blood should we
be bitten, cut or shot. They rapidly convert glycogen to glucose, so
that we might have extra energy. And these hormones cause more
neurotransmitters to be available to our nervous system, so that our
nerves can activate more muscle cells making us faster and stronger. All
of these changes prepare us to respond to danger.
Tin supports the adrenal glands. In addition to low
vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and/or
vitamin B1 (thiamine), low levels of
tin is a common nutritional cause of low adrenaline, which can
lead to left-sided cardiac insufficiency. While fatigue or
depression may be experienced with cardiac insufficiency of either
side, breathing difficulties or asthma are more common with
left-sided cardiac insufficiency and swelling of hands and feet is
more common with right-sided cardiac insufficiency, regardless of
These are the sex glands and consist of the
ovaries in females and the testes in males. Testes produce sperm and
male sex hormones and ovaries produce female sex hormones.
The effect of sex hormones usually becomes
noticeable between the ages of 12--15 years of age when humans reach puberty. Puberty is the biological event which brings the
child into adolescence. It occurs about one to two years earlier in
females than in males. Puberty begins when the
in the brain releases the gonadotropic hormone. The gonadotrophic hormone acts on the gonads
causing them to become functionally mature. When this occurs, the person
will soon become reproductively mature and the gonads will greatly
increase their production of sex hormones.
These sex hormones produce the secondary sex characteristics for the
sexes. These are things such as facial hair in males, the appearance of
breasts in females, pubic and axillary hair (hair in the arm pits),
lower voice for both sexes and the other characteristics which describe
men and women.
Three different groups of hormones are
produced by the various organs of the female reproductive system. These
are called the oestrogenic hormones (commonly called oestrogen). The first
group, composed primarily of the hormone beta-estradiol is responsible
for maintaining the uterine environment, and it also effects behaviour.
The second group, composed primarily of progesterone, makes the uterus
favourable to the reception of a developing embryo. The third, chorionic
gonadotrophin, prevents ovulation during pregnancy.
The male sex hormones are called androgens. The main androgen is the
steroid hormone known as testosterone. Testosterone causes males to have
larger muscle mass and to be more aggressive in behaviour.
Menopause page for information about the changes that take place
when the ovaries stop producing oestrogen.
The hypothymus Is situated in the brain and gives signals to the other glands
The hypothalamus controls blood pressure, hunger, gastrointestinal function, the feeling
of fullness (after eating), thirst, water retention, bladder
contraction, decreases heart rate, body temperature, sweating, sleep,
wakefulness and alertness. It also initiates the anterior pituitary to secrete TSH (Thyroid Stimulating
The kidneys extract
waste and excess water from blood to make urine. The urine is sent to the
urinary bladder through tubes called ureters. When the bladder is full, urine is
released from the body through the urethra.
Urinary page for more information about kidney problems and natural
Produces lachrymal fluid (tears), which moisten the surface of the eye, lubricate eyelids and wash away foreign bodies. Tears are a salty fluid which are produced
continuously, to keep the surface of the eye from drying out and also to
trap dust particles and other airborne material on a film of liquid. The
"windshield wiper" action of the eyelids during a blink sweeps the
surface clean every few seconds. Tears also contains antibodies (one of
their components being lysozyme) that help protect the eye from
infection by breaking up bacteria and foreign bodies.
The eyelids also provide a mechanical
barrier against injury, closing reflexively when an object comes too
close to the eye. The reflex is triggered by the sight of an approaching
object, the touch of an object on the surface of the eye or the
eyelashes being exposed to wind or small particles such as dust or sand.
DRY EYE SYNDROME
Potassium is one of the important components that comprise tear film. Tear film includes electrolytes, one of which is potassium. One of the first-line treatments prescribed for dry eye is the use of lubricating drops. It is often recommended to choose a drop with an electrolyte composition closest to that of natural tears. Potassium in addition to bicarbonate appears to be one the most important of these electrolytes in tear film.
Several research studies have demonstrated that potassium levels have a direct impact on tear film. Researchers have found that lower levels of potassium negatively affect tear-film break-up time and also are integral to the maintenance of corneal epithelium. Another study on animal subjects showed that potassium is necessary for the maintenance of normal corneal thickness. Each of these discoveries highlights the importance of potassium to the optimal health of the corneal surface.
Potassium can be lacking in the diet due to intense farming techniques. Intensive physical activity, old age, diabetes, drinking alcohol and taking some medications can also cause the body to have lower levels of potassium in which case at least one of the following potassium rich foods should be consumed daily.
Highest sources of potassium in milligrams per 100 grams
If the lacrimal glands don't produce enough
tears, the eyes can become painfully dry and can be damaged. A rare
cause of inadequate tear production is Sjogren's syndrome. The eyes can
also become dry when evaporation causes an excessive loss of tears, for
example, if the eyelids don't close properly.
Eye page for more information on eye conditions and diseases and
natural remedies to treat them.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune
system and is a channel that
carries a clear or whitish fluid called the lymph.
This is a clear fluid that travels via the lymphatic channels. This
contains fluid, debris, chemicals, toxins, bacteria, viruses and
lymphocytes on its way back from the tissues.
The lymph channels
These are a network of tubes or vessels much like the blood vessels that
cover all the tissues of the body. The lymphatic channels get
progressively smaller as they pass in to distant organs and tissues. For
example, the vessel at the beginning of the arm is thicker. It branches
into thinner tubes that progressively become thinner and thinner as they
travel up to the fingers.
At the tips of the fingers the vessels may be
the thinnest with places where they may be only a few cells thick. These
are called lymphatic capillaries. The walls of the capillaries are
usually single cell thick. This helps in the movement of the immunity
producing cells called lymphocytes (type of white blood cells), and the
toxins, germs and chemicals to move in to the lymph capillaries freely.
The arteries also branch similarly at the tips of the organs. These
capillaries give out a clear fluid called the plasma. This plasma bathes
the tissues and enters the lymphatic channels as lymph.
The lymph channels eventually drain at a large lymphatic vessel called
the thoracic duct at the chest that drains into a blood vessel. All the
filtered fluid, salts and proteins as well as the debris ends up in the
The lymph nodes
The lymph nodes are small bean shaped glands or bulbs that tend to occur
in clusters similar to grapes. Along the lymph channels reside
approximately 600 lymph nodes. These act as filters that sieve off the
harmful substances brought by the lymphatic channels.
lymphatic channels of the fingers, hand and arm for example comes to be
filtered at the lymph nodes that lie at the elbow and the arm pit.
Similarly, those of the legs, toes and thighs drain
into nodes behind the
knees and the groin.
Lymph channels from the face, head and scalp drain at the nodes present
at the back of the head, behind the ears and sides of the neck.
Some lymph nodes are located deeper within the body at the chest
(between the two lobes of the lungs), around the coils of the
intestines, in the pelvis etc.
The lymph nodes contain two regions within them which include the cortex
and the medulla. The cortex contains collections of lymphocytes. These
contain predominantly B-lymphocytes and some T-lymphocytes. The B
lymphocytes mature completely within the bone marrow while the T
lymphocytes exit the bone marrow immature and attain maturity within the
thymus. The lymphatic system also contains the thymus that lies
behind the chest bone.
The lymphatic vessels entering the lymph nodes are called afferent
lymphatic vessels and those exiting are called efferent lymphatic
The lymphatic system also consists of other organs like the spleen that
lies on the above left sided part of the abdomen. It acts like a large
filter to remove worn out and damaged red blood cells from the blood and
recycle them. The spleen also contains B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes.
When blood passes through the organ these cells pick up the infections.
Spleen page for more information and natural foods that protest the
These are also part of the lymphatic system
and lie at the back of the throat. These are sentinels that protect the
digestive system and the
lungs from bacteria and viruses.
Functions of the lymphatic
Drainage of fluid from blood stream into the tissues – The
circulating blood through narrow vessels leads to leakage of fluid or
plasma into the tissues carrying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and
carrying waste materials from the tissues into the lymph channels. The
leaked fluid drains into the lymph vessels. This forms a circulatory
system of fluids within the body.
Filtration of the lymph at the lymph nodes – The nodes contain
white blood cells that can attack any bacteria or viruses they find in
the lymph as it flows through the lymph nodes. The cancer cells may also
get trapped similarly at the lymph nodes and thus lymph nodes act as
indicators of how far the cancer has already spread.
Filtering blood – This is done by the spleen. The spleen filters
out bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles.
Raise an immune reaction and fight infections – The lymphatic
system especially the lymph nodes are over active in case of an
infection the lymph nodes or glands often swell up in case of a local
Scrofula is the term used for lymphadenopathy of the neck, usually as a result of an infection in the lymph nodes, known as lymphadenitis. It can be caused by tuberculosis or a non-tuberculosis bacterial infection.
Prickly ash is known to be an effective remedy for scofula caused by a bacterial infection.
mullien are three powerful herbs that can stimulate and cleanse
congestion and mucus from the lymph system and relieve the symptoms of
tonsillitis and other related swellings of the
throat, neck, arms and groin.
To make a tea
2 parts calendula
2 parts cleavers
1 part mullein
Place the herbs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat
slowly and simmer, covered for 20-45 minutes. The longer you simmer the
herbs, the stronger the tea will be. Drink 2-3 cups a day for several
The pancreas lies between the kidneys.
Cells known as the islets of Langerhans are
scattered throughout the pancreas. The islets of Langerhans have two
types of cells: alpha cells which produce a hormone called glucagon, and
the beta cells which produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin is the
hormone which escorts glucose across the cell membrane. Without insulin,
glucose cannot enter the cell and, therefore, cannot be used to produce
energy. Glucagon functions to cause the liver to convert more glycogen
to glucose, thereby, raising the blood sugar level.
If the Islets of Langerhans stop or lessen their production of insulin,
the result is diabetes mellitus. The symptoms of diabetes include: loss
of weight, excessive thirst, increase in urination, itching in the skin
and fatigue. Because glucose cannot enter cells, the blood sugar level
is high. This high blood sugar level causes sugar to be excreted in
urine. High volumes of water are needed to remove the sugar from the
kidneys. Since water is used for this purpose, thirst occurs to replace
this lost water.
Diabetes page for more information and natural foods which can treat
Amylase is an enzyme that helps digest
carbohydrates. It is produced in the pancreas and the
salivary glands. When too much amylase is secreted the condition is
called Hyperamylasemia (high blood
On the back side of the
thyroid gland are four small bodies known as the parathyroid glands.
These are the smallest endocrine glands. The parathyroid glands produce
the parathyroid hormone which plays an important role in regulating
calcium and phosphate ions in blood. These two ions are important in
nerve and muscle function and in maintaining bone structure.
Vitamin D is important to the parathyroid glands because it promotes
retention of calcium and phosphate. Without vitamin D bones cannot
develop and they become soft and bend. This is the disease called
rickets in children. Adults lacking in vitamin D can lose important
minerals from the bones causing them to become porous and brittle and
osteoporosis is the result.
10-15 minutes of midday sunshine on the skin can provide all the body needs. It is not the same as sunbathing; the skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight. Through a window is not enough. Over exposure of the suns rays can be dangerous for the skin but no exposure at all can be equally detrimental to the bones and teeth. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight convert cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D. During the winter months (October-April) when it is too cold to expose the skin to the sun and in the northern hemisphere there is not enough UVB
rays from the sun anyway, it is advisable to raise the weekly intake of oily fish and cod liver oil.
Supplements must be vitamin D3 and not D2 and check that
aspartame has not been added to chewable forms.
These are round or ovoid bundles of
lymphatic tissue made up of unencapsulated lymphatic cells that protect
the mucous membranes of the small intestines (the ileum) from infection.
While the complete role and function of these lymphoid tissues is
uncertain, they contain lymphocytes such as T cells and B cells so that
when an infection occurs, the Peyer’s patches can protect the interior
of the intestine.
Is situated in the brain and manufactures melatonin for correct sleeping patterns,
helps with reproductive cycles, sends hormonal messages to the
hypothalamus and needs sunlight to function properly. The pineal gland,
attached to the lower surface of the brain, is considered an endocrine
gland. The pineal gland secretes two hormones: serotonin and melatonin.
functions as a
neurotransmitter and has been proven to be involved in some depression.
The pineal gland is stimulated to produce serotonin by sunlight.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
The lack of sunlight in winter can result in a type depression called
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD can usually be treated with
lights which mimick the sun's affect on the pineal gland.
is a hormone which triggers
sleep. Melatonin may also be useful to correct "jet lag," as it can be
used to alter the body's "biological clock".
is called the "master gland"
because its various hormones regulate all other endocrine glands. It is
located at the place in the brain where the sensory nerves originate
near the top of the brain stem and is connected to the brain by a short
stalk called the infundibulum. The pituitary gland is about the size of
a cherry and is divided into three regions. Of these, the anterior
(front part) lobe is the largest. The posterior (back part) is only
slightly smaller than the anterior lobe. Between the anterior and
posterior lobes is third region, the pars intermedia. Each of these
regions produces its own group of hormones.
Pituitary Anterior Lobe
produces the somatotrophic
hormone, which in people is commonly called the human growth hormone (HGH).
If this hormone is produced in greater than normal quantities, the bones
grow very long. HGH acts to prevent the epiphyseal junction from
forming, thus making continued growth possible in these bones. The
result of this greater than normal production of HGH is pituitary
giantism and people with this condition may grow to be 9 feet tall.
Giantism is accompanied by a corresponding increase in size of the
internal organs. If there is an increased secretion of HGH after the
appearance of the epiphyseal line, the long bones do not grow. However,
there is growth in the bones of the face, hands and feet. This condition
is called acromegaly.
Deficiency of HGH causes pituitary dwarfism. If dwarfism is recognized
early in a child or adolescent, HGH produced through genetic engineering
can be administered causing the child to grow.
A second hormone produced by the anterior pituitary is prolactin. In
mammals, prolactin stimulates the production of milk in the mammary
glands which is used to nourish the young. It may also stimulate
A third hormone secreted by
the anterior pituitary is the thyroid stimulating hormone. This hormone
causes the thyroid gland to function, and if this hormone is absent, the
thyroid gland shuts down.
The anterior lobe of the pituitary also produces the adrenocorticotropic
hormone (ACTH). ACTH influences the amount of various corticoids
produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands. Corticoids help regulate
the amount of minerals in our bodies, as well as carbohydrate
The anterior pituitary also produces the two gonadotrophic hormones, the
follicle-stimulating hormone and the luteinizing hormone. The
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes both egg cells and sperm cells
to mature so that reproduction can occur. The luteinizing hormone (LH)
works with the follicle-stimulating hormone to prepare the female body
to nourish a developing child during pregnancy.
Pituitary Posterior Lobe
secretes two hormones, the
antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and the oxytocic hormone. ADH controls the
reabsorption of water from the kidneys into the blood stream. If this
hormone is deficient, the blood stream does not reabsorb water from the
kidneys and urine is formed in excess amounts. The resulting disease,
called diabetes insipidus, may result in the excretion of as much as 10
gallons of urine per day. ADH also increases blood pressure. Once it was
believed that a separate hormone, called vasopressin, acted on the walls
of arteries to produce an increase in blood pressure (hypertension); but
it was recently discovered that vasopressin is, in actuality, ADH. A
diuretic drug stimulates urination, usually by decreasing the action of
ADH. By doing this, diuretic drugs are useful in controlling high blood
The oxytocic hormone (oxytocin) causes the contractions which lead to
child-birth. The oxytocic hormone also increases blood pressure and
decreases the formation of urine during pregnancy.
produces a hormone called
intermedin. Little is known of the function of this hormone in people.
In fish it functions to darken the scales.
purpose is to help with the male reproductive system. It makes up to 70%
of the fluid that is ejaculated during intercourse, mixing its
secretions with the sperm that are made in the testicles. The prostate
also contracts at the time of ejaculation to prevent retrograde (backward)
flow of semen into the bladder. See the
Urinary page for more information about prostate problems and
Are situated in the buccal cavity and
secretes amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates.
It is produced in the pancreas and the salivary glands.
glands produce as much as a quart of saliva each day. Saliva is
important to lubricate the mouth, help with swallowing, protects teeth
against bacteria and aids in the digestion of food. The three major
pairs of salivary glands are:
Parotid glands - on the sides of the face
Submandibular glands - at the floor of the mouth
Sublingual glands - under the tongue
There are also several
hundred minor salivary glands throughout the mouth and throat. Saliva
drains into the mouth through small tubes called ducts.
Sore, Swollen and Bleeding
Dental health usually focuses on preventing cavities in the teeth. But
it's important to pay attention to the gums, too. Gums play a major role
not only in dental health, but in the overall well-being. In many
instances, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. However,
there are a number of other factors that could be causing gum problems.
Teeth page to find out more and for natural protection and
treatments of gum and teeth problems.
When there is a problem with
the salivary glands or ducts, symptoms such as salivary gland swelling,
dry mouth, pain, fever and foul-tasting drainage into the mouth may be
experienced. Many different problems can interfere with the function of
the salivary glands or block the ducts so that they can not drain
saliva. Following are some of the more common salivary gland problems:
generally cause one-sided
salivary gland swelling. Other symptoms such as fever and pain will
accompany the swelling. The bacteria are typically those found normally
in the mouth, as well as staph bacteria. These infections most often
affect the parotid gland. Dehydration and malnutrition increase the risk
of getting a bacterial infection. See the
Bacteria page for more information and natural foods to protect
against and cure bacterial infections.
Cysts can develop in the salivary glands if injuries, infections,
tumours or salivary stones block the flow of saliva. Some babies are
born with cysts in the parotid gland due to a problem with the
development of the ears. It can appear as a blister or soft, raised
area. Cysts may interfere with eating and speaking.
The most common cause of
swollen salivary glands, salivary stones are accumulations of
crystallized saliva deposits. Sometimes salivary stones can block the
flow of saliva. When saliva cannot exit through the ducts, it backs up
into the gland, causing pain and swelling. Pain is usually intermittent,
is felt in one gland, and gets progressively worse. Unless the blockage
is cleared, the gland is likely to become infected.
Bacterial infection of the
salivary gland, most commonly the parotid gland, may result when the
duct into the mouth is blocked. Sialadenitis creates a painful lump in
the gland and foul-tasting pus drains into the mouth. Sialadenitis is
more common in older adults with salivary stones, but it can also occur
in babies during the first few weeks after birth. If not treated,
salivary gland infections can cause severe pain, high fevers and abscess
Viral infections such as
mumps, flu and others can cause swelling of the salivary glands.
Swelling occurs in parotid glands on both sides of the face, giving the
appearance of "chipmunk cheeks." Salivary gland swelling is commonly
associated with mumps, occurring in about 30% to 40% of mumps
infections. It usually begins approximately 48 hours after the start of
other symptoms such as fever and headache.
Warthin's tumour (papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum) is a benign salivary (parotid) gland tumour.
Symptoms of Warthin's tumour
Facial nerve paralysis
Fluid draining from the ear
Lump near back of lower jaw
Pain in cheek, jaw, mouth or neck (that does not go away)
Sensation of pressure
Swollen salivary gland
Trouble opening the mouth widely
The treatment for this is generally surgery to remove the parotid gland if symptoms worsen. Although a benign tumour is not cancerous, meaning it will not spread to other parts of the body, it may continue to grow and become more painful and debilitating as it can affect the facial nerves. Adding the following natural foods to the diet may help to diminish the growth:
Tomatoes (cooked and consumed with a little sesame oil)
Apple cider vinegar, lemon and honey: Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, one half of a freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of honey in a glass or warm water upon waking daily before eating or drinking anything else.
Bicarbonate of soda may help to alkalise the body which can reduce growth of tumours but caution should be taken as it is high in sodium which those with high blood pressure should avoid. Otherwise take one half teaspoon ever few days in some milk or water. Bicarbonate of soda mixed with coconut oil makes a very good alternative toothpaste.
These are the glands in the skin that
secrete an oily/waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof
the skin and hair. They are especially abundant on the face and scalp
but are distributed all over the body except for the palms of the hands
and soles of the feet.
Sebum (Latin meaning fat or tallow)
is made of triglyceride oils, wax, squalene and metabolites of
fat-producing cells. The sebaceous glands are classified as holocrine
glands because sebum is produced within specialized cells and is
released as these cells burst. Sebum acts as a delivery system for
antioxidants, antimicrobial lipids, pheromones and provides hydration of
the skin. Sebum is odourless, but its bacterial breakdown can produce
odours. Sebum is the cause greasy hair and earwax is partly composed of
Conditions caused by disorders of the
sebaceous glands include: acne, seborrhoea, sebaceous cysts,
hyperplasia, sebaceous adenoma and sebaceous gland carcinoma.
Acne is caused by the skins pores being
clogged by too much sebum which allows bacteria to flourish.
Seborrhoea is the name for the condition of
greasy skin caused by excess sebum.
Skin page for
natural remedies for greasy skin and acne.
Perspiration (sweating, transpiration, or
diaphoresis) is the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands in
the skin. Two types of sweat glands can be found in humans: Eccrine
glands and apocrine glands. The eccrine sweat glands are distributed
over much of the body.
In humans, sweating is primarily a means of
thermoregulation which is achieved by the water-rich secretion of the
eccrine glands. Maximum sweat rates of an adult can be up to 2-4 litres
per hour or 10-14 litres per day.
Evaporation of sweat from the skin surface
has a cooling effect due to the evaporation of water. Hence, in hot
weather, or when the individual's muscles heat up due to exertion, more
sweat is produced. Animals with few sweat glands, such as dogs,
accomplish similar temperature regulation results by panting, which
evaporates water from the moist lining of the oral cavity and pharynx.
Primates and horses have armpits that sweat like those of humans.
Although sweating is found in a wide variety of mammals, relatively few,
such as humans and horses, produce large amounts of sweat in order to
excessive sweating. It can be localised or affect the whole body.
Sweating is controlled by the brain, which sends signals along nerves
called “sympathetic nerves” to the small sweat glands in the skin. These
nerves are part of the “autonomic nervous system” which controls many
unconscious body functions. Increased sweating is a normal response to a
rise in body temperature and to emotions such as anxiety.
hyperhidrosis is the most common type of hyperhidrosis, this affects
certain body sites (localised), and both sides equally (symmetrical).
The palms, soles, under arm skin, face and scalp, or a combination of
these, can be affected. The cause is not known. It often begins in the
teens, and tends to improve slowly as you get older. This type of
hyperhidrosis is also called focal or primary hyperhidrosis.
Generalised hyperhidrosis (affecting the whole body) can be
caused by some illnesses including infections, and by hormonal
conditions including the menopause, diabetes and an overactive thyroid
gland. This type of hyperhidrosis is called secondary hyperhidrosis.
Some medicines can also cause excessive sweating, including fluoxetine
(Prozac) and similar antidepressants. Sometimes no cause can be found.
Disease or irritation of the sympathetic nerves is a rare cause
of increased sweating, either generally or in localised areas (typically
just on one side).
Anxiety can trigger or worsen hyperhidrosis, but this does not
necessarily mean that the affected person is unusually anxious or
stressed. Sometimes worry about sweating can create a vicious circle
making the problem worse.
Hyperhidrosis is a feature of some rare inherited conditions. There is a
trend for the common localised symmetrical type to run in families and
up to a third of sufferers may have a family member with the condition.
Symptoms of hyperhidrosis
Visible sweat, wet clothes and a clammy handshake can be embarrassing
and can interfere with work and personal relationships. Some people find
hand sweating produces problems writing on paper.
Hyperhidrosis affects the water-producing (eccrine) sweat glands and not
the apocrine sweat glands which produce the more oily type of sweat
which causes odour, especially under the arms. Therefore bad odour is
not a direct result of hyperhidrosis; however, if sweaty feet get soggy
inside shoes, overgrowth of harmless skin bacteria can cause a bad
medications and spicy foods can bring on an episode of hyperhidrosis.
The thymus is located in the upper part of
the chest. It is made of two lobes that join in front of the trachea.
The thymus is an important part of children’s immune systems. It grows
larger until puberty and then begins to shrink. The gland produces
thymosins, which are hormones that stimulate the development of
antibodies. The thymus also produces T-lymphocytes which are white blood
cells that fight infections and destroy abnormal cells.
The thymus gland is very active in childhood. It plays a crucial role in
developing and improving a child’s immune system. The main thymus gland
function is to produce and process lymphocytes or T cells (in T cells
‘T’ stands for thymus derived). Lymphocytes are white blood cells which
are also known as leukocytes. After the white blood cells mature, they
leave the thymus gland and get settled in the spleen and the lymph
nodes, where a fresh batch of T cells is produced. These white blood
cells are the body’s immune system and protect the body by producing
antibodies that stop the invasion of foreign agents, bacteria and
viruses. These cells also ensure the proper functioning of the body
system and look after the wear and tear of the organs.
Another function of the thymus gland is to
prevent the abnormal growth of cells that may lead to cancer. The T
lymphocytes travel from the bone marrow to
the thymus gland where they remain until they get activated. After
maturity, the lymphocytes enter the blood stream. From there they travel
to other lymphatic organs and provide defence mechanism against
The thymus also produces a hormone
called thymosin, which stimulates the T cells in the other lymphatic
organs to mature. This gland also produces another hormone called
thymopoietin, which is protein present in the mRNA (messenger RNA) and
is encoded by the TMPO gene.
In some cases, the thymus may become underactive. The individual
may have a weak immune system and be prone to many infections and
allergies. These infections can be chronic and may continue for a long
time. When there is a lack of T cells in the body, it can lead to
immunodeficiency diseases. The person suffering from immunodeficiency
diseases may show symptoms like extreme sweating, puffiness or soreness
of the throat, swelling in the glands and depression. Malnutrition and a
deficiency of protein, at an early age, can lead to the slow or limited
growth of the thymus, thus impairing the normal functioning of the
lymphocytes. Thus ensure that your child eats a well balanced meal and
also has the right amount of proteins.
is located in the throat, lying along side of the larynx. It is shaped
like the letter H. The thyroid gland uses
iodine and the amino acid
tyrosine to produce the hormones thyroxin and triiodothyronine. Both of
these hormones function to regulate cellular metabolism. Metabolism
refers to all of the processes that make energy available to cells. As
such, these hormones regulate the conversion of glycogen (stored
glucose) to glucose.
of declining thyroid function are dry skin, hair loss, sensitivity to
hot and cold, unexplained weight gain, missing outer third of eyebrows,
constipation, brittle nails, high or low blood pressure, susceptibility
to infections, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, joint or muscle pain,
cystic breasts or ovaries, chronic sinusitis, slow heart rate,
temporomandibular joint syndrome, dental problems, headache and
increased cholesterol levels.
The deficiency of thyroxin
results in a reduction in the metabolism rate. If hypothyroidism occurs
during infancy or childhood the result is called cretinism. Cretinism is
characterized by stunted physical growth and mental retardation. If
hypothyroidism occurs in an adult, it results in such symptoms as:
reduced body temperature, a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate,
dryness of the hair and skin, loss of energy, weight gain and
Foods to avoid if
suffering from hypothyroidism: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage,
cassava, cauliflower, flaxseeds, kale, kelp, lima beans, millet, mustard greens, peanuts, peaches,
pine nuts, plums, prunes, soybeans, spinach,
strawberries, sweet potato, Swedes and turnips.
Many processed products such as
soy sauce, energy bars and chocolate contain soybean
oil (soy lecithin) and should also be avoided.
The above foods can result in
depressed iodine / thyroid functions.
The opposite condition
results from an over-production of thyroxin. The symptoms of
hyperthyroidism include: rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure,
increase in metabolism (resulting in weight-loss), oily skin, an
increase in body temperature, excess sweating, and nervousness. People
suffering from hyperthyroidism may eat very large amounts of food and
still lose weight. Hyperthyroidism is treated by removing part of the
thyroid gland and by the use of drug therapies.
In hyperthyroidism, where milder
forms of nutritional therapy such as para-aminobenzoic acid or
magnesium have not been very effective,
bromine can be very effective in human and animals and, provided the
correct amount is used, no side effects are experienced. Bromine
inhibits both, T4 thyroxine and T3 triiodothyronine hormones, and in
some cases only a short course of bromine is needed to return (hyper)
thyroid functions back to normal.
is an enlarged thyroid
gland, which results in a swelling in the neck. A goiter can result from
either hyper or hypothyroidism, but it is more common in hypothyroidism.
A goiter is generally caused by a lack of
iodine. The thyroid stimulating hormone of the pituitary gland
causes the thyroid gland to work. But without iodine, no thyroxin is
produced. The pituitary gland responds to this by making the thyroid
gland work harder and harder. Therefore, like a muscle, the thyroid
gland gets bigger. Iodine is gained from seafood and from vegetables
grown in soil which contains iodine. Iodine is often artificially
supplemented in the diet by including it in salt (iodized salt). If
natural sea salt is not processed and refined, where all the valuable
mineral content is stripped to sell in other industries, it would
naturally contain all the iodine that is required. Natural unrefined
salt can be obtained especially from France where the processing
keeps all the mineral content intact.
Peptides consist of two or more amino acids.
Polypeptides and proteins both contain ten or more amino acids, but
peptides consisting of more than fifty amino acids are classified as
Peptide hormones are
produced by the endocrine glands (pituitary, thyroid, pineal, adrenal,
pancreas) or by various organs such as the kidney, stomach, intestine,
placenta, or liver. Peptide hormones can have complex, convoluted
structures with hundreds of amino acids. Human insulin is identical to
pig insulin, except that the last amino acid of the B-Chain for the pig
alanine instead of
of Growth Hormone, increases feeling of hunger.
suppresses the feeling of hunger. Fasting decreases leptin
Human Growth Hormone
(HGH), also called somatotropin, promotes amino acid uptake
by cells and regulates development of the body. Growth
hormone levels increase during fasting.
maintains lactation in mammals
Produced by the
placenta late in gestation
secretion of testosterone
secretion of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone
implantation of an egg in the placenta
of thyroxin and triiodothyronine
production of adrenal cortex steroids (cortisol and
reabsorption rate of water in kidney tubule cells (antidiuretic
of mammary gland cells to produce milk and stimulation of
uterine muscles during childbirth
pressure through vasoconstriction
ion levels in extracellular fluids
of gastric acid and pepsin, a digestive enzyme consisting of
326 amino acids
NATURAL REMEDIES TO TREAT
DISORDERS OF THE GLANDS
The following natural foods can treat disorders of the
glandular system. Elimination of toxins such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco,
food additives, refined and processed foods and sugar will also help to
heal conditions connected with the body's glands.
urine, tears and sweat the body rids itself of toxins that would
otherwise build up and lead to gland problems and disease. Fevers
and skin eruptions are a natural part of the cleansing process
and shouldn't be suppressed. Cleansing allows the body to restore
balance and occurs when imbalance is too great and threatens health and life.
Ingesting live organic natural plant foods encourages this process.
and Detoxify page to find out which natural foods can help the body
clean itself inside and out.
The human immune system is an incredibly complicated
armoury which can learn, through out the life of the human, to defend
against most forms of bacteria, fungi, virus, worms and other parasitic
organisms. It produces nature ‘killer’ cells and antibodies which attack
these microbes before they can become established and cause damage to
tissues and organs.
How the human behaves and lives their life greatly
affects the abilities of the immune system. Poor diet, lack cleanliness,
stress, lack of physical activity, alcohol and drugs, trauma, over
exposure to microbes and toxic chemicals and serious infections or
disease can overwhelm and greatly reduce the immune systems strength and
may lead to major illness and a shortened life.
Simple colds can lead to pneumonia and pleurisy which is
the greatest killer of the elderly because their immune system has been
reduced in capability. Scientists are not yet aware of why this happens.
It could be that the body cannot produce so many killer cells anymore
and this allows the viruses, bacteria and fungi to proliferate and
overwhelm the system.
The immune system remembers each attack and when the same
microbe is detected it will release the right kind of killer cells. It
could be, that as the human ages, memory of previous attacks of the
virus is forgotten as too many killer cells have died off by natural
apoptosis and not been replaced.
The human immune defence system is made up of the
following organs and glands:
lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels
TISSUE AND ORGAN TRANSPLANTS
Those who have had an unnatural transplant of tissues or
organs from another living organism must have their immune system
suppressed so that rejection of this tissue does not take place. This
can cause many illnesses and often requires lifetime administration of
steroids and other immune suppressing drugs.
A fragile balance between healthy immunity and non
rejection of the foreign tissues is very difficult to establish. Mostly,
it is a case of trial and error and the transplant patient may have to
suffer many episodes of infections and rejection before the balance of
drug administration is found.
It should be known that even a cold can become serious
for someone whose immune system is compromised by the anti-rejection
drugs they must take. Relatives, friends and anyone else who comes in to
contact with a person who has to take anti-rejection drugs must be very
cautious about passing on any contagious infections.
Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the
body including the blood vessels, brain, eyes, heart, glands, joints,
kidneys, lungs, muscles, nerves, skin and the digestive tract.
The first sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation,
which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling depending on what part
of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in
rheumatoid arthritis, there can be joint pain, stiffness and loss of
function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and
thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain and muscle aches. If
it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis,
vitiligo, and systemic lupus erythematosus, it can cause rashes,
blisters and colour changes.
Many autoimmune conditions are not restricted to one part
of the body. For example, systemic lupus erythematosus can affect the
skin, joints, kidneys, heart, nerves, blood vessels etc and type 1
diabetes can affect the glands, eyes, kidneys and muscles etc.
Scleroderma is caused by the immune system attacking the connective tissue under the skin and around internal organs and blood vessels. The word scleroderma comes from two Greek words 'sclero' meaning hard and 'derma' meaning skin. Scleroderma is particularly common in South African gold miners, where it is thought to be related to silica dust exposure. Scleroderma has also been found in jewellery workers and miners who worked with quartz. People who live near airports also have higher incidences of Scleroderma. It appears that an excess of vitamin B3 (niacin) can cause scleroderma in some people therefore supplements of this vitamin should not be taken..
Scientists do not yet know what causes autoimmune
diseases. In most cases, a combination of factors may be responsible. It
could be because of diet, genetics or a virus may even trigger it.
Diseases that can be
affected or caused by an autoimmune condition
The immune system needs good, regular nourishment.
Deficiencies of vitamins A, B6, B9 (folic acid), C and E and minerals
copper, iron, selenium and zinc can lower the immune system response to
bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites. See the A-Z of Nutrients and
the A-Z of Minerals for natural resources.
People who live in poverty and are malnourished are more
vulnerable to infectious diseases but this may also be because of
hygiene practises and being more subjected to infectious microbes.
It is claimed that many supplements and magic pills can
boost the immune system but unless the overall diet is widely varied and
nutritionally balanced, hygiene practises are sufficient and constant
exposure to noxious chemicals, pollution and toxic drugs are eliminated,
this will not happen. The fundamental reason for a lowered immune system
must be addressed first.
Many common natural foods can nutritionally support the
body’s glands and thus improve the immune system: such as alfalfa, anchovies, ash gourd, aubergine, avocado,
bananas, basil, beef, berries, black currants, brassicas, buckwheat,
carrots, chlorella, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, comfrey, coriander,
courgette, cumin, dulse, eggs, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppercorns and
live yogurt and other probiotics.
When nutrition is good the following herbs can work with the immune system and help fight off infection and parasites such as aloe vera, andrographis,
arnica, ashitaba, astralagus, baobab, bdellium gum, black cohosh, black
seed, blessed thistle, blue vervain, burdock, cat’s claw, chaga
mushrooms, chaparral leaf, cleavers, damiana, dandelion, dong quai,
echinacea, ecklonia cava, false unicorn, gingko biloba, ginseng, goat’s
rue, liquorice root and olive leaf. See the A-Z of Medicinal Herbs.
Add crushed garlic, ginger powder, chilli powder and cinnamon to the lemon juice.
Mix all the ingredients and add the honey last.
Let the syrup rest for 3 hours at a room temperature.
Keep the syrup in a closed glass container and store it in the fridge.
Every morning, before eating anything, take one tablespoon of the syrup to strengthen the immune system and cleanse the liver.
If suffering with any infections including colds or influenza, take one tablespoon of the syrup, three times a day half an hour before meals.
EIGHT WAYS TO BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM NATURALLY DURING THE WINTER
During the winter we tend to consume more filling foods but often they are less nutritious and this may have an impact upon the immune system. Here are the top eight ways to boost your immune system during the winter:
No. 1 Algae and seaweed
The western diet is often lacking in sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals due to modern intense farming techniques and the processing and refining of foods. Algae and seaweed are the richest sources of these nutrients which are vital for a strong immune system. Some can be purchased in powder form and one teaspoon per day can provide the nutrients that may be missing. The following are the various types available:
·Chlorella (blue/green algae)
·Dulse (brown algae)
·Ecklonia cava (brown algae)
·Irish moss (red algae)
·Kombu (fermented seaweed)
·Miso (seaweed soup)
·Nori (red algae)
·Spirulina (blue/green algae)
·Wakame (brown algae)
No 2 Apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon or lime immunity tonic
Daily consumption of apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon or lime can help to support the immune system because they all have powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Start each day with one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water with half a squeezed lemon or lime and a tablespoon of unpasteurised organic apple cider vinegar. Locally sourced pure honey is best as it can also help to prevent hay fever and other allergies.
No 3 Chilli Pepper
Chilli pepper contains beta-carotene and capsaicin both of which boost the immune system. Beta-carotene is the fat-soluble pigment found in red and orange plant foods and needs to be consumed with a little oil in order to be absorbed. Sprinkle a quarter to half a teaspoon of chilli pepper onto any savoury dish or add to the immunity tonic above at No. 2.
No. 4 Fruit, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin C and vitamin E must be consumed in equal quantities as they effect the mineral levels in the body and both are required to boost the immune system. Consuming a handful of fruit, nuts and seeds together daily can do this and provide many other essential nutrients needed by the immune system such as selenium.
No. 5 Garlic and ginger
Garlic, especially black garlic, and ginger are two of the best immune-boosting foods due to their powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties. Consume at least three garlic cloves and two cups of ginger tea daily or use in meals.
No. 6 Green vegetables
All green vegetables especially barley grass, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, chlorella, kale, kelp, leeks, peas, rocket, spinach, spring onions and watercress contain components which the immune system needs to work correctly. Make a soup with a selection adding herbs and spices for additional immune boosting properties. Blend the soup and consume a bowl every day.
No. 7 Mushrooms
Mushrooms are rich in the essential minerals selenium and copper that are important for the immune system. The best ones to consume for this purpose are maitake, reishi or shiitake mushrooms.
No. 8 Vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for a strong immune system and is often lacking in people in the northern hemisphere between October and April which may add to the cold and influenza epidemics that occur at this time of the year. The body stores vitamin D which it manufactures in the skin using cholesterol and the suns UV rays but only enough for 60 days providing there has been enough bare skin exposure to the sun. Sunscreens and windows prevent this process. Therefore, it is wise to consume foods that are rich in vitamin D.
Highest sources of Vitamin D per serving
Krill oil - 1 teaspoon: 1000 IU
Eel - 85 g or 3 oz: 792 IU
Maitake mushrooms - 70 g: 786 IU
Rainbow trout - 85 g or 3 oz: 540 IU
Cod liver oil - 1 teaspoon: 440 IU
Mackerel - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU
Salmon - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU
Halibut - 85 g or 3 oz: 196 IU
Tuna - 85 g or 3 oz: 228 IU
Sardines - 85 g or 3 oz: 164 IU
Chanterelle mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 155 IU
Raw milk - 1 glass or 8 oz: 98 IU
Egg yolk - 1 large: 41 IU
Caviar - 28g or 1 oz: 33 IU
Hemp seeds - 100 g or 3.5 oz: 22 IU
Portabella mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 6 IU
NOTE: One IU is equivalent to 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms
Nat H Hawes SNHS Dip (Advanced and Sports nutrition) is a qualified nutritional and sports therapist and author of the new book, Nature Cures, who has been researching natural foods and their health benefits since 2003.
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. Its intention is solely educational. If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional.
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assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy,
completeness or usefulness of the information provided here or the
outcome of using it.