Hormones are essentially chemicals that transport or send messages from one part of the body to another. Hormones acts are a catalyst for chemical changes that relate to growth, development and energy. They are important in regulating the systems and processes that occur in the body. They are responsible for ensuring that balance and stability, called homeostasis, is maintained in the body.
Hormones are either released by a cell or a gland and alter cell metabolism. Hormones released from cells are called endocrine hormones. These hormones are released directly into the blood stream. Hormones that are released into a gland are called exocrine hormones. These hormones are either released into the blood stream from the gland or are diffused through cell walls to different areas of the body.
There are two types of hormones that operate in the human body, these are steroids and peptides. Steroids are the hormones that a responsible for changes during puberty and are often called the sex hormones. Two of the most common steroids are estrogen and testosterone. Steroid hormones are produced in our adrenal glands and gonads (testicles and ovaries). These hormones are also produced by the placenta in the womb.
Peptide hormones are responsible for regulating functions such as sleep or sugar levels in the body. They are also responsible for growth and development in the body. They are made up of long chains of amino acids similar to proteins.
Hormones are able to affect the metabolism inside a cell by biding to a protein receptor site on the cells surface. Once the hormone has bonded with the cell it passes on its instructions and acts are the catalyst to start specific process in the cell. By doing this hormones are able to maintain the balance in the body.