Relaxin is a polypeptide hormone released by the corpus luteum (ovary), uterus, placenta and mammary gland. It plays an important role in pregnancy and childbirth, but there's still much mystery around the function of this multi-tasking hormone. Some of what we do know is that relaxin prevents uterine contractions early in pregnancy to avoid premature childbirth. During childbirth, it helps the cervix dilate and the vagina to soften and widen. In blood circulation, levels of relaxin rise after ovulation and lower again if pregnancy does not occur.  

Relaxin has also been discovered in men, although its function is even more unclear in men. Secreted by the prostate, it is found in semen. It is thought to assist the movement of sperm cells in the semen.

Recent findings show that relaxin also decreases tissue fibrosis in the heart, lungs, kidney and liver. It supports the growth of new blood vessels, helps heal wounds and is anti-inflammatory. Even though researchers are still figuring out what exactly it does, relaxin seems to be a pivotal hormone in various systems of the body, aside from just reproductive. Cool!

spleen1Did you know your organs can be covered in "icing"? This disease happens when an organ's outer membrane is inflamed and can grow a white coating. It most often affects spleens, but can happen to the liver and heart, too. Just keep that icing on cake, where it belongs - and away from my spleen!
IntestineFoodIntolerance With Halloween and the holidays right around the corner, it might come in handy to speak the language of your intestines. Do you have any food allergies? Do you know the difference between allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity? According to Wed MD, almost 30% of Americans think they have a food allergy, but only 4 to 5% have true food allergies. Allergies cause the immune system to get involved. This means your body makes histamine, which starts an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can show up as hives, eczema, itchy mouth, nausea, diarrhea, sneezing, and even anaphylaxis. Food intolerance, on the other hand, is caused by not having enough of the specific enzymes needed to break down what you ate. The most familiar example is lactose intolerance, which can be fixed by taking lactase enzymes when eating dairy. Other tell tale signs of intolerance include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, nausea, headaches, and migraines. See the University of Maryland's write up about common food intolerance culprits here. Lastly, food sensitivity is a general term that includes any adverse reaction to a food (unless, of course, you get food poisoning, which is caused by eating spoiled food). Do you have a favorite dessert recipe that makes your intestines happy? I'm dying to make this raw, vegan, non-gluten, no refined sugar dessert (Has nuts, though). Let me know if you try it!
SebaceousAndPituitary Check out these awesome hand-sewn pituitary and sebaceous glands, thanks to jellyfishghost3 on instagram!