Sport Stacking

I recently discovered the talent of Steven Purugganan, a fifteen year old boy who holds a world record for the fastest cup stacking. Upon further investigation, I found that cup stacking, or 'Sport Stacking' as it’s more often referred to in the business, is actually an international sport - complete with international tournaments, strict rules and their own governing body, the World Sport Stacking Association (The WSSA).

My first reaction, upon watching Purugganan stack his Dixie cups over and over was, “Wow, this kid is really fast!” My second reaction was, after a few seconds of consideration, “Is this kid really spending the better part of his life stacking cups?” My instinct was to declare this practice an utter waste of time, nothing more interesting than a party gimmick or weird talent that gets you featured on page four of a local newspaper. Simply because it was new and unusual, I wanted to dismiss sport stacking...

A Mix of Other Hormones & A Bit More on Thyroid

Just to wrap up on thyroid, the parathyroid gland, with 'para-' meaning 'just beyond', together with thyroid regulates calcium and phosphorous metabolism (related to bones). Calcium in intestine together with Vitamin D will be plasma calcium, which is regulated by our kidneys. Calcitonin, which is produced by the thyroid gland, is crucially related to our bones. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) or just parathormone, is produced if this process doesn't take place, so bone gets dissolved into plasma calcium into the blood. Additionally, too much parathormone leads to kidney stones from the calcium deposits in our kidneys. You don't want to have to go through surgery for this! Beware!

As I had touched upon earlier, Thomas Addison conducted research in adrenal insufficiency in 1855 and he was the one who came up with Addison's disease. Recall that this results in weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and hyper-pigmentation.

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Moving on to the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin. Banting, Best, and Macleod were the 3 people responsible for the discovery of insulin. Type I diabetes cannot be cured, but can be treated using insulin. Type II diabetes, well, your best bet is to lose weight as soon as you can!

Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism

As we introduced hypothyroidism in our last post, what that really entails is an under-active thyroid gland. If this is the case, the thyroid gland grows into a large physical size and this is called a goiter. Goiters can also be caused by a lack of iodine, of which the thyroid gland needs in order to function properly. There has been cases of cabbage goiters too.

Cretinism is whereby an under-active thyroid gland in children can affect the brain too.

Now we take a look at hyperthyroidism. This, by the hyper- term, you can tell that it works the opposite way as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause the following:

  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • rapid pulse
  • fatigue
  • weight-loss (Graves disease, protruding eyes)

Treatment of hyperthyroidism is rather simple. You want to block the formation of the thyroid hormone, or in the case of too much iodine, you could use radioactive iodine (I-131) to permanently destroy iodine. In other cases, surgery might be the solution. I hope that isn't the case for anyone who suffers from this!

More on Hormones & Functions

Adrenocorticotropic hormone, or abbreviated as ACTH, is related to the adrenals, which produces aldosterone, cortisol, corticosterone, etc. Corticosteroids protect your body from things like infection, exertion, allergic reaction, and more. Hydrocortisones can act as immunosuppressants. Inflammation can be dealt with hydrocrotisone. Other things include:
  • redness
  • swelling
  • warmth
  • pain
Corticosteroids can be used to treat asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohn's disease, and more.

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However, overabundance of cortisone in the body may result in Cushing's syndrome, named after Harvey Cushing who lived from 1869 to 1939. The symptoms include:
  • moon face
  • buffalo hump
  • weak bones and muscles
  • easily bruised skin
  • peptic ulcer
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
Other common hormones include follicle stimulating hormone or FSH, thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH, and more. As I've mentioned in my previous blog posts, thyroid controls metabolism. So it is crucial to maintain this. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include the sensation of sluggishness, a slow heart rate, a tendency to obesity, and cold skin. So if you have any of these symptoms and you aren't eating a proper diet, then you might want to get yourself checked out by someone like a physician as soon as possible!

Hormones as Proteins

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Most hormones are proteins, which are chains of amino acids. Just like the proteins you find in your eggs and meat that you may be eating on a daily basis, especially for you lot of athletes out there. Don't forget though, hormones can be classified as steroids too, which typically aren't allowed in sports!

Those marketers for growth hormones tried to market something that incites the production of amino acids. Bovine somatotropin, also known as bovine growth hormone (BGH) are for cows, like other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is used in regulating metabolic processes. Porcine somatotropin are for pigs, which provides more rapid growth and a greater proportion of muscle to fat on less feed. Again, don't even think about trying this for yourself! They definitely will not work and it won't be a surprise that they will be harmful.

There are many other hormones out there and they control many different things, like thyroid controls metabolism. So this is absolutely essential for athletes to be aware of their metabolism. You would want a higher metabolism if you want your body to process things at a faster pace, and lower metabolism for a slower pace.

Examples of Hormones

The prolactin hormone is responsible for the formation of milk.

The somatotropin hormone is what's called the "growth hormone", as evidently from the description, is responsible for growth.

Sandy Allen was the worlds tallest woman.

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Robert Wadlow was the tallest around 1918 to 1940 which was the years he managed to live. He died at an early age because it is always hard for the body to sustain such a large size. Acromegaly is excessive pituitary hormone, which leads to abnormal bone growing. Likewise with "Andre the Giant", he died from heart failure.

Human growth hormone did exist as a medication. Sometimes it was used to treat the medical or genetic condition that results in an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches. Research has been done where they injected growth hormones in old people. The consequences included an increase in blood pressure and plasma glucose. Other side effects included carpal tunnel syndrome as well as breast enlargement. As a whole, no measurable improvements in muscle function or physical performance were observed in spite of improved muscle-fat distribution. We can safely say that trying this as an athlete to try to improve your performance will NOT work out well!

Not surprisingly, it is illegal now because of the aforementioned consequences.

Hormone: "Stir into action"

I apologize for the short break as I was away, busy traveling. Fear not, I am back to guide you on your well-being for all you athletes out there. I am going to make this post packed with extra information for you all as compensation!

We are in the year 1902 and Ernest Starling injected ground duodenum, which is the connection of the small intestine to the stomach, into the jugular vein of a dog. Just within seconds, he was able to note the flow of pancreatic juice - just exactly like what happens when a dog consumes food! This, as we know today, is/was called "Secretin".

The word 'hormone' actually comes from Ancient Greek, which means to "stir into action", traveling through the blood stream. The endocrine system comprised of endocrine organs responsible for hormones. For example, the hypothalamus & pituitary in the brain, and our kidneys for mineral balance.

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As introduced just above, the primary conductor of the endocrine system is our pituitary gland. It typically produces a millionth of a gram of hormones per day, that is, 1 micro-gram. This minute amount leads to dramatic physiological effects on your body so it is absolutely crucial for the functioning of your body. Your body's performance will be severely hindered if there's something wrong with the pituitary gland! The gland is responsible for the cascading hormonal effect that releases to the other glands throughout your body.

We will talk about common types of hormones in your body next. But remember, as you read above, bigger is not always better!

False Claims and Myths

In the year 1889, a man by the name of Charles Brown-Sequard decided to inject himself with macerated dog testicles as well as monkey glands on several occasions. His claims were that he actually felt better. I, among many others, highly doubt his testimonials.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, the famous Scottish physician and writer, had also written one of his Sherlock Holmes books about "The Adventure of the Creeping Man".

John Romulus Brinkley, an American, was apparently a "specialist in rejuvenation", or so he claims to have been. He was interested in the horny nature of goats. His claims were that there were effects that resulted from the insertion of goat testicle parts into men, of which several of such tests were actually conducted. Needless to say, none of these ridiculous trials had any actual affect!

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We come to the year 1895, where adrenalin was extracted and injected into animals which showed signs of increased blood pressure.

I will continue my discussion in my next few blog posts, where I will begin to explain more on the role of hormones and less about the past history of this discovery.

Human Autopsies Show Signs of Hormones

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The year was 1855 when Thomas Addison was conducting autopsies on humans. He noted that people who had atrophied adrenal glands, meaning shrunken adrenal glands, had shown signs of poor appetite, low blood pressure, weakness, anemia and a bronze coloring of the skin. From these patterns he had observed, his conclusion was that the adrenal gland must have been releasing something that prevents these symptoms in the first place. He was indeed correct as our society today now knows that this was the case with the adrenal glands in humans.

Dolanski, in the year 1894, was the one who laid out the foundation for hormones. Mr. Dolanski tried to insert acid into the rectum of a dog, into it's intestine, in order to stimulate digestive juice acids. This didn't work. What was the reason? The reason was that it was the hormones that needed to do the trick in order for it to work properly.