Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It stimulates many different responses in different areas of your body.
It is a major component of the "fight or flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system.
As a neurotransmitter adrenaline is produced by nerves and transmits a message to the next nerve at the connection points between nerves. It is known as an "excitatory neurotransmitter", meaning that it stimulates or increases the speed and intensity of the nerve signal.
As a hormone it is produced in the adrenal glands which sit on top of each of your kidneys. It is released into the blood and has an influence on many different organs including your heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Adrenaline Junkies get "high"
with dangerous activities.
Image thanks to bzo via Wikimedia Commons
Epinephrine serves many valuable functions and it is used as a rescue medicine in many different emergency situations.
Since the beginning of time adrenaline has been helping people survive dangerous situations. When confronted by an enemy, or a saber tooth tiger, it is the adrenaline rush that makes you think quicker and react faster; allowing you to conquer or escape whatever threat confronts you.
Adrenaline is used in hospital emergency rooms in certain situations for its effects on the heart and blood vessels during cardiac emergencies and for its effects on the airways during allergic reactions.
People with severe allergies are encouraged to carry an EpiPen so that they can give themselves an injection of adrenaline in emergency situations.
The EpiPen has saved many lives by making adrenaline instantly available to people who need it.
•Increase Your Heart Rate
•Opens Your Airways
•Acts as a Vasoconstrictor
•Increases Your Blood Sugar Levels
•Stimulates the Breakdown of Fats
Some people seem to choose careers and hobbies that give them the heart racing rush of the "adrenaline high". Firefighters, police and extreme sports enthusiasts are all part of this group.
They intentionally put themselves in dangerous situations that risk life and limb to stimulate the fight or flight response within their body. They are called "adrenaline junkies" and it is considered an addiction by some psychiatric professionals.
More than just Adrenaline
However, the response of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to dangerous situations involves much more than just adrenaline release. There are many different neurotransmitters, hormones, and endorphins that effect many different parts of your body.
Endorphins are secreted by your pituitary and hypothalamus glands. They stimulate the same receptors as cocaine, morphine and heroine producing much the same high.
Our bodies were designed to survive periods of stress interrupted by periods of rest. In today's modern world constant stress from cell phones and other electronic media can cause overproduction of epinephrine.
Consistently high levels of adrenaline may cause:
• Heart arrhythmias and palpitations
• Racing Heart rate
• Anxiety and Panic Attacks
• Increase Blood Pressure
Epinephrine has been an important part of our lives for thousands of years and without it we may not have survived.However, we need to find balance which can be difficult in modern society.
The enjoyable rush and other important functions of adrenaline need to be balanced by periods of rest and rejuvenation. Our bodies need time to repair and recover from times of stress.
Learning to meditate can provide these times of calm that our bodies need. Learning yoga may be helpful for the strengthening exercises and the meditation component that it provides.