Your endocrine system is made up of eight main hormone-producing glands throughout your body. The many different hormones created by these glands each have a different, critical function that affect many different body systems.
Hormones are chemicals that can travel through the bloodstream around your body, and they cause changes in cells that have receptors that can bind to the hormone. Receptor binding is like a lock-and-key mechanism; if the receptor is the lock, and the hormone is the key, a specific key is needed to open the lock. Hormones can target specific cell types with their effects, which makes them very useful to your body! Hormones are powerful chemicals, so the body has to tightly control the release of hormones to maintain balance in the body. Some examples of hormones are testosterone and estrogen, which have many roles including puberty. Cortisol is a hormone that causes changes in your body when you become stressed, and the hormone dopamine is one of the chemicals that make you feel good!
Like the nervous system, the endocrine system is an information shuttle. However, the effects of the endocrine system are usually more long-term, like the slow changes that occur during puberty, while the nervous system delivers information, like the temperature outside, in seconds.
Written using information from the NIH National Cancer Institute, the Hormone Health Network, the EPA, and Washington University in St. Louis.