The Adrenal Glands (also known as the Suprarenal Glands) are two small glands, the size of a grape, and each weigh about four to five grams for an adult. These glands are located just above the kidneys and play a huge role in the stress response of the body and helps it to survive. The adrenal glands release chemicals called hormones into the bloodstream and these hormones affect many parts of the body.
Each of the adrenal gland has an inner and outer compartment, the adrenal medulla & adrenal cortex, respectively. The adrenal glands are your body’s “shock absorbers” which produces hormones that act as ‘chemical messengers’, including the Norepinephrine, Cortisol, and DHEA. The hormones enable various body tissues to for them to function properly as these hormones travel in the bloodstream.
The adrenal cortex produces three hormones:
The most important is aldosterone. Aldosterone helps prevent the kidney to lose excessive amounts of salt, and water. Without aldosterone, the body can be severely dehydrated and will have low blood pressure. This hormone helps the body maintain its salt and water levels which then regulates blood pressure.
Predominantly cortisol. Cortisol’s give your body enough fuel, enough energy, to deal with an immediate threat or whatever reason you are stressed and help relieve that stress. It helps regulate the body’s metabolism and it has anti-inflammatory effects. Cortisol stimulates the production from fat and muscle to glucose.
Male sex hormones mainly dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and testosterone. This has a significant role in a child’s development such as the male sex organ and female body hair during puberty.
The adrenal medulla produces catecholamines which includes hormones responsible for every physiological characteristics of the stress response. These include adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine (of smaller amounts) which are responsible for ‘fight or flight’ response.
Overproduction of aldosterone can cause hyperaldosteronism which, in turn, causes a high blood pressure. In come cases, the adrenal glands can become overactive or underactive, which can also cause health disorders such as the Cushing’s Syndrome and Addison’s Disease. Regarding androgens, an overproduction thereof may result in excessive hair growth and irregular menstrual periods.
Prevention is always better than cure. It’s better to take good care of your adrenal glands now. You can prevent adrenal complications through regularly taking in adrenal support supplements.