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What is a hormone?

Hormones are special chemicals which coordinate many processes in your body. Hormones
are made in glands which then release them into your bloodstream. They are carried around
the body in your blood to their targetorgans. Hormones regulate the functions of many of your
organs and cells, including the amount of water which is reabsorbed by your kidneys. You can
read more about hormones here.
ADH and the water balance of the body
The amount of water in the blood must be kept more or less the same all the time to avoid cell
damage as a result of osmosis. There has to be a balance between the amount of water
gained (from your diet though drinks and food and the water produced by cellular respiration)
and the amount of water lost by the body (in sweating, evaporation, faeces and urine).
This is achieved by the action of the hormone ADH (anti-diuretic hormone). How does it work?
Perhaps you have not drunk anything for a while or you have been sweating a lot. Part of the
brain, the hypothalamus, detects that there is not enough water in the blood. The
hypothalamus sends a message to the pituitary gland which releases ADH. This travels in the
blood to your kidneys and affects the tubules so more water is reabsorbed into your blood. As
a result you make a smaller volume of more concentrated urine. The level of water in your
blood increases until it is back to normal.
Sometimes the level of water in your blood goes up because, for example, it is cold and you
have not been losing any water through sweating or because you have had a lot to drink. The
hypothalamus detects the change and sends a message to the pituitary. The release of ADH
into the blood is slowed down or even stopped. Without ADH the kidneys will not save as much
water and you produce large volumes of dilute urine. The level of water in the blood falls back
to the normal level.
This is an example of negative feedback. As the level of water in the blood falls, negative
feedback ensures that the amount of ADH rises. As the level of water in the blood rises
negative feedback ensures that the amount of ADH falls.

Things Affecting ADH
Alcohol can decrease the amount of ADH being produced resulting in a greater volume of
more dilute urine being produced. This can lead to dehydration.
Ecstasy has the opposite effect. It increases the amount of ADH which reduces the amount of
urine produced.
Both alcohol and ecstasy interfere with the normal regulation of water in the body and may
have harmful long-term effects on the body.

the volume of the solution (illustration 2. such as a piece of animal bladder. because of the composition of the membrane. blood pressure. the greater flow being from the less concentrated solution to the more concentrated solution. called osmotic pressure. Osmosis Osmosis. Within a few hours. circadian rhythm. Water is drawn from the soil into the roots of a plant by osmosis. water from the glass will be drawn into the hole by osmosis. (The membrane is permeable to water. but remains remarkably fixed from day-today. and body weight. This net movement of water through the semipermeable membrane into the sugar-and-water solution constitutes osmosis. This area of the brain is small. the semipermeable membrane separates one liquid solution from another. gonadotropin-releasing. only a few (the ones traveling at very high speeds) pass through. .5 cm) deep. Between the two halves of the U-shaped tube is a semipermeable membrane. The water molecules on both sides of the membrane hit the membrane and pass through. Arm A contains a solution of sugar and water and arm B contains pure water. The carrot is then placed in a glass of water with its top one-half inch (1. to side A than from side A to side B. thirst. and endocrine functions. In most cases. autonomic. Hypothalamic hormones include thyrotropin-releasing. sex drive. The level of the solution in the hole will rise until the solution overflows. one inch (2. Osmosis keeps the amount of water in all the cells of an animal or a plant approximately equal and helps to prevent certain cells from drying out. the spontaneous flow of a liquid or gaseous substance through a semipermeable membrane. traveling to the pituitary gland where their effects are exerted. It receives inputs from the body.3 cm) above the surface. or cellophane. The increased volume eventually builds up so much pressure that the force of the pressure causes as much water to leave the solution (side A) as enters. corticotrophin-releasing. hunger. The hormones produced by this area of the brain govern body temperature. osmosis helps to prevent the wilting of plants that is caused by loss of water. A semipermeable membrane is a material through which only certains kinds of molecules can readily pass. which allows water molecules to pass through it but effectively blocks the passage of sugar molecules contained in the water. growth hormonereleasing. causes the flow of water to be equal in both directions.The hypothalamus is a section of the brain responsible for hormone production. then initiates compensatory changes if anything differentiates from this set-point. side A) increases. and the release of other hormones in the body. The set-point can migrate. The hypothalamus uses a set-point to regulate the body's systems including electrolyte and fluid balance. flow occurs in both directions. parchment. This area of the brain controls the pituitary gland and other glands in the body. The hypothalamus' primary function is homeostasis.) More water molecules touch the membrane on the side in contact with the pure water (side B) than on the side in contact with both sugar and water (side A). sleep. This pressure. Osmosis is extremely important in all processes in which water moves into and out of cells. When there is an adequate water supply. moods. The effect of osmosis in a root is shown in the accompanying illustration. but. These hormones release into the blood through the capillaries.) The sugar molecules also hit the membrane. More water moves from side B. and dopamine hormones. somatostatin. but involved in many necessary processes of the body including behavioral. is an example of a semipermeable membrane. the pure-water side. As water moves into the solution. Oxytocin and vasopressin are also hypothalamic hormones. which is to maintain the body's status quo systemwide. The direction of flow is determined by the composition of the two solutions. Parchment. because all living cell membranes are semipermeable. In the situation most often encountered. A hole. body temperature. (The membrane is impermeable to sugar. The amount of flow that occurs is determined by the nature of the membrane. Osmotic Apparatus The movement of the substances involved in osmosis is shown in the illustration Principle of Osmosis. is cut into the top of the carrot and nearly filled with a concentrated solution of sugar and water.

The response to ADH is an increased permeability of the basal membranes of epithelial cells in the collecting ducts.Figure 39 Feedback control of the secretion of antidiuretic hormone. ADH. In stage 8. Stage 1 represents a situation where water lost via urine is not replaced by drinking water. which raises the osmotic pressure of the blood. which detect the osmotic pressure of the blood It is worthwhile working through the series of events in Figure 39. Absorption of the water into the bloodstream decreases the osmolarity of the blood so the osmotic pressure decreases (stage 7). which detect the osmotic pressure of the blood It is worthwhile working through the series of events in Figure 39. Secretion of the hormone from the posterior pituitary is controlled by the hypothalamus responding to signals received from its receptors.Figure 39 Feedback control of the secretion of antidiuretic hormone. The kidney thereby produces more concentrated urine and water is retained (stage 6). Stage 1 represents a situation where water lost via urine is not replaced by drinking water. ADH. epithelial cells in the collecting ducts of kidney. The kidney thereby produces more concentrated urine and water is retained (stage 6). In stage 8. ADH secreted into the bloodstream (stage 5) reaches target cells. . osmoreceptors in the hypothalamus detect the increased osmotic pressure of the blood. which promotes resorption of water. the hypothalamic receptors respond to the decline in osmotic pressure by inhibiting the release of ADH. which raises the osmotic pressure of the blood. Say the individual now has a drink of water. Absorption of the water into the bloodstream decreases the osmolarity of the blood so the osmotic pressure decreases (stage 7). Secretion of the hormone from the posterior pituitary is controlled by the hypothalamus responding to signals received from its receptors. At stage 2. epithelial cells in the collecting ducts of kidney. At stage 2. ADH secreted into the bloodstream (stage 5) reaches target cells. the hypothalamic receptors respond to the decline in osmotic pressure by inhibiting the release of ADH. which promotes resorption of water. Hypothalamic neurosecretory neurons (stage 3) respond by transferring ADH along axons into the blood circulation of the posterior pituitary (stage 4). The osmolarity of the blood increases. Hypothalamic neurosecretory neurons (stage 3) respond by transferring ADH along axons into the blood circulation of the posterior pituitary (stage 4). The osmolarity of the blood increases. osmoreceptors in the hypothalamus detect the increased osmotic pressure of the blood. Say the individual now has a drink of water. The response to ADH is an increased permeability of the basal membranes of epithelial cells in the collecting ducts.

There are several buffer systems established in the body to neutralize acids. In order to protect the vital organs. The scale for the concentration of hydrogen ions is called the pH value. They pick up hydrogen ions when there are too many in the blood (the more hydrogen. The optimum pH of the blood is somewhat alkaline. pollution and the quality of our thoughts and emotions. The body is 75% water or H2O. these salts are called upon to bind with the acids to neutralize them. there are twice as many hydrogen atoms as oxygen contained within a water molecule. stress. the lymphatic system cannot do its job and acid deposits continue to build up in the tissues. Post-menopausal women who eat an acidic diet rich in animal foods and low in vegetables are especially at risk for this condition. the function of which is to “clean house” and remove acid deposits and other toxins from the tissues. kidneys. Only in this range is the blood ideally supplied with oxygen.36 and 7. If a person leads a sedentary lifestyle. the body will pull these salts from the bones (calcium) and muscles (magnesium). the body will begin to break down and die. This stands for potential Hydrogen or strength of the hydrogen. the overburdened acidic body will be forced to take calcium from the bones in an attempt to restore alkaline balance. the fat-bound acids may be dumped into storage areas such as the hips. The main ones are sodium. the pH of an alkaline solution is higher than 7. protein buffers release hydrogens again when there are too few in the blood. The pH balance can be affected by many factors including the food we eat. lungs and skin. stomach. Even if the lymphatic system can do its job. This can result in the disease called osteoporosis. Alkaline salts are also used to buffer acids. The secret is that the negatively charged side chains of the amino acids can accommodate additional hydrogens (which are positively charged) when necessary. and various tissues and organ systems vary from these numbers. a compromised body. To accomplish this.35. creating obesity. such as pure water. Which means that there are two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. The potential of Hydrogen & Oxygen (pH Alkaline) is a key factor in attaining alkaline balance. overloaded with acids. The blood must . The Hydrogen/Oxygen matrix (Alkaline pH) is the bringer and protector of life. The lymphatic system is another buffer system. the pH is exactly 7. When there is excess acid. One example is the fat buffer system. lymph and extracellular fluids) so the acids can be excreted from the body in the urine. the body must maintain the proper acid/alkaline (pH) balance. some proteins act as buffers to maintain the blood’s normal pH.. 7. The lymphatic fluid is literally pumped by the movement of our muscles.44. Since all metabolic reactions are dependent on the pH. Outside of this range . bases have a high pH) which must be carried by the blood to the organs of excretion. the organism must stabilize the blood-pH within a narrow range of between 7. Normal processes of the body continually produce acids (compounds that release hydrogens in a watery solution. with 7 being the neutral point. In a neutral solution.the body activity is no longer optimal and the metabolism is out of balance. and they are held in reserve in the tissues. it carries the life-giving form. The acids can then be eliminated from the body through the colon. Thus. However. The pH of an acid solution is less than 7. or acid. the residue it cleans up is sent back to the blood and the cycle continues. If this balance cannot be maintained. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) fat serves to bind acids from the body fluids (blood.4. In order to survive. which is to say they only operate ideally within a certain range of pH. If there are inadequate reserves in the tissues. For example. The body is constantly striving to maintain this balance. etc.44 (many researchers feel the range is actually much smaller). the more concentrated the acid) Likewise. If the blood pH goes over 7. there is a risk to develop degenerative conditions. may be unable to eliminate them.PH Balance Blood and body pH are in fact two different measurements. bases (compounds that accept hydrogens from a watery solution. and there are many processes by which this is accomplished. thighs. neutral.3-7. The scale that is used for measuring the pH. an Alkaline Body pH means that the pH of the blood is above 7 with the ideal pH being 7. acids have a low pH) and their opposite. or hydrogen ion concentration … is from 0 to 14. The pH value indicates whether a solution reacts alkaline. The blood must do this without allowing its own acid-base balance to be affected. calcium and magnesium. Thus. potassium.

Each person will have their own “weak link”. molds. On the cellular level. colds. yeast. . In addition. the body can become increasingly unbalanced as acid continues to build up in the tissues. flu. Initial signs can be rashes.use more salts to neutralize the acids. inflammation. will occur. etc. eventually chronic degenerative disease. They thrive in the anaerobic (lack of oxygen) environment of the acidic body. Over time. an organ system which is more susceptible to breakdown than the others. They feed on our body’s proteins and fats. If the process continues. and their wastes poison us. and then death. the cells are beginning to suffer from lack of oxygen. allergies. This weak link may be the first area to show signs of “disease”. and so on. fungus and parasites thrive in an acidic body. are being poisoned and begin to die.