I plan to present a series of blogs regarding adrenaline – a hormone that I feel is responsible for a tremendous number of medical conditions. Please feel free to comment one way or the other. I will begin with:
An Introduction to Adrenaline
Everyone has heard of adrenaline and many people recognize it as the fight-or-flight hormone. It can certainly be considered a “survival” hormone, especially in the era of the caveman when it prepared the body to deal with the natural dangers that early man was confronted with.
In this regard, it increased energy levels and raised sugar levels to provide fuel for the muscles and the brain. As time went on, man has used adrenaline to fight wars and deal with other dangers – real or imaginary. Now we’re in the 21st century, the need for adrenaline is not as acute. There is still an obvious need for it in the military and for people involved in law enforcement. However, a large number of people are dealing with excess adrenaline even though they’re not faced with a fight-or-flight situation.
Why is this?
Perhaps the most common reason for excess adrenaline is to provide fuel for the brain. The brain utilizes more sugar than any other tissue in the body. When sugar is taken away from the brain, the brain falls asleep – this is commonly referred to as hypoglycemia.
Please remember that part of the need for adrenaline is survival, and making sure that the brain can function is a survival concern. An example of the danger of hypoglycemia can be illustrated by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel – they can go off the road, hit a tree, and kill themselves. Along these same lines, I suspect that thousands of years ago, a man out hunting who fell asleep due to hypoglycemia could be attacked by carnivorous animals.
In other words, the body always wants the brain awake and alert. When it detects low fuel levels in the brain, the body initiates a process called gluconeogenesis – the making of sugar from protein. It is mediated via the sympathetic nervous system – i.e. adrenaline.
Hypoglycemia not only initiates the process of gluconeogenesis, it also stimulates a craving for foods high in sugar. Consumption of these types of food will stimulate an out-pouring of insulin which will precipitate another drop in sugar levels, resulting in the release of adrenaline again.
It is very important to understand that adrenaline can give people energy and as a neurotransmitter in the brain it gives people intelligence and enhances creativity in people that are right-brained. This is the ‘good’ part of adrenaline. This series of blogs will deal with the ‘bad’ part of adrenaline when one has excess levels.