Hormones and Immunity – Endocrine Effects on Immunity

Hormones and Immunity - Effects of Major Endocrine Hormones on Immune Function

Hormones and immunity: Ocimum and Paeonia help balance your body. Phyllanthus niruri helps strengthen your immune system.

We’ve talked about how hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. We’ve also discussed how the body is very sensitive to the amounts of these messengers released into the blood. In addition, we addressed the fact that the endocrine system is responsible for the production and control of hormones. The interaction between the endocrine system, nervous system, and immune system messaging is complex indeed.

Here, we’ll take a look at the specific effects of the major endocrine hormones on immune function.

Hormones Most Directly Involved in Healthy Immune System Function

The following hormones are most directly involved in healthy immune system function:

Testosterone – High levels of testosterone suppress the immune system. Low levels of testosterone signal the body to increase T cell production. Overproduction of T cells can lead to autoimmune issues.

Estrogen – Estrogen’s effect on the immune system can be quite varied. Low levels of estrogen decrease T helper cell, B lymphocyte, and Natural Killer (NK) cell activity (all part of the body’s immune response). Low levels of estrogen are also associated with an increase in the body’s inflammatory response.

High levels of estrogen, in turn, suppress thyroid function and decrease the size of the thymus gland, which often causes poor sleep and weight gain. Estrogen also favors the humoral immune response while disadvantaging the cellular immune response.

Adrenal Gland – The adrenal gland produces DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and epinephrine, which all are vital to metabolic functions. Cortisol is the most significant adrenal hormone related to immunity.

Cortisol is called the stress hormone because it’s the body’s response to stress. Cortisol has many functions. Once the brain perceives a stressful event, cortisol is released. The main function of cortisol is to give you optimum strength and the mental clarity to escape life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, however, a steady stream of cortisol release leads to chronic stress on the body.

Excess cortisol in the blood causes poor thyroid function, restless sleep, lowered immune system, poor cognition, increased abdominal fat, and insulin imbalance. Cortisol is necessary for proper functioning, but there must be a proper balance.

Thyroid – Optimal levels of thyroid hormone are critical to the production of NK cells. Low thyroid levels can lead to a poor response to inflammation and reduce the body’s response to viruses.

Thymus – The thymus is the center of T cell (T lymphocyte) production. The thymus straddles the lymphatic and endocrine systems. Thymosin is the hormone that controls T cell production and maturation.

Steps You Can Take to Optimize Your Endocrine System

  • Eat a balanced diet on a regular schedule to keep your insulin levels low and stable throughout the day. Stay away from refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. Get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Take power naps if needed during the day.
  • Do some type of light stretching and exercise every day. Exercise doesn’t have to be high impact; keep it fun and relaxing.
  • Consider herbs that can support the glands and guard against chronic stress. Ocimum sanctum and Paeonia lactiflora both work to balance the body, while Phyllanthus niruri specifically works to balance the immune system. Polygala tenuifolia can work specifically on the HPA axis to address inflammation and restore balanced function.

Hormones and Immunity – A Final Takeaway

Your body is a complex system, and your hormones can become imbalanced. While it’s always best to care for your body before things go awry, it’s important to know plant-based products can help restore your body to optimal functioning.

And remember – everything is interconnected. You can’t deal with just one aspect of health. An approach that considers the whole of your being is the real path to wellness.

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