What are the Adrenal Glands?

Every day the human body is under stress, and yet it manages to overcome that stress when we rest and get refreshed.

The glands responsible for this rejuvenation are called the Adrenal Glands.


The adrenal glands are also known as the suprarenal glands and are responsible for producing a variety of hormones including but not limited to adrenaline and the steroids (cortisol and aldosterone). No larger than the size of a walnut, the adrenal glands are found above the kidneys with each gland having an outer cortex known as the adrenal cortex which produces steroid hormones responsible for regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, metabolism and immune system suppression. The adrenal glands also have an inner medulla responsible for producing noradrenaline and catecholamines adrenaline which function to produce rapid responses throughout the body when the individual is stressed.

When there is some sort of malfunction in the adrenal gland, the body becomes susceptible to endocrine diseases such as Cushing's syndrome and Addison's disease as diagnosed by a doctor and adrenal fatigue.

Functions of adrenal glands

The importance of the adrenal glands in the human body cannot be overstated or underestimated. The adrenal glands release the hormones that help to maintain a balance in your blood sugar, manage your body's reaction to stress, control metabolism, and several other essential biological functions.

 The adrenal gland has two parts

  • The adrenal cortex and
  • The medulla

These two parts have their individual functions and together they are responsible for the essential functions of the adrenal glands.

The adrenal cortex

From the adrenal cortex, corticosteroids are produced. The corticosteroids are a group of steroid hormones subdivided into:

  • Mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids respectively responsible for the regulation of salt (mineral) balance and blood volume and influencing metabolism rates of proteins, sugar (glucose) and fats. Furthermore, the adrenal cortex produces androgens also known as male sex hormones which are eventually converted to more potent androgens like testosterone and estrogens for the females. In this way, the hormones produced by the adrenal cortex serve as a metabolic intermediate. 

The adrenal medulla

From the medulla of the adrenal glands (which contains a dense network of blood vessels) adrenaline and noradrenaline are both produced. These hormones often referred to as epinephrine and norepinephrine act as adrenoreceptors throughout our body. When these hormones are released there is a significant increase in blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels in the body and increased heart rate. In fact, these hormones are responsible for our fight or flight responses.

Put simply, Adrenal glands are responsible for and regulate

    • Mood and emotional stability
    • Blood pressure
    • Metabolic activity
    • Production of Glucose
    • Production of energy in the body
    • Sexual libido
  • Mineral balance etc.

What happens when the adrenal glands get over-stressed? Find out here


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