Anatomy and Physiology

The Adrenal Glands

The Adrenal Glands are 2 endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. Their main function is to produce hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism, blood pressure, immune response, response to stress, and a number of other essential functions.

The hormones produced are:

Cortisol: A glucocorticoid hormone that helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; suppresses inflammation; regulates blood pressure; increases blood sugar, and can also decrease bone formation. This hormone also controls the sleep/wake cycle. It is released during times of stress to help your body get an energy boost and better handle an emergency situation.

Aldosterone: This plays a central role in regulating blood pressure and certain electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Aldosterone sends signals to the kidneys, resulting in the kidneys absorbing more sodium into the bloodstream and releasing potassium into the urine. This means aldosterone also helps regulate the blood pH by controlling the levels of electrolytes in the blood.

DHEA and Androgenic Steroids: Precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones (estrogens) and in the testes into male hormones (androgens).

Adrenaline and Noradrenaline: These hormones are capable of increasing heart rate and force of heart contractions, increasing blood flow to the muscles and brain, relaxing airway smooth muscles, and assisting in glucose metabolism. They also control the squeezing of the blood vessels, helping maintain blood pressure and increasing it in response to stress. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are often activated in physically and emotionally stressful situations when your body needs additional resources and energy.