Epinephrine or adrenaline is a hormone produced and released by the adrenal glands. This hormone is actually extremely important for all emergency situations, when we have to react and this response is known as “fight or flight”. Adrenaline is also a neurotransmitter in the brain and as such it is important for transfer of different signals between neurons. When we face some extreme stress or excitement the adrenal glands of our body start to produce adrenalin. Many extreme sports are considered to provoke adrenalin rush and people engaged in these sports are sometimes called adrenaline junkies. Beside extreme sports, adrenalin release may be induced by different things and situations such as bright light, loud noise, some physical threat or even a panic attack. Low epinephrine may be responsible for fatigue, lack of concentration and problems with losing excess weight. High levels of this hormone may provoke insomnia, anxiety and ADHD.
Norepinephrine or noradrenaline is released by both, the adrenal glands and noradrenergic neurons. Production of noradrenaline requires dopamine and some amino acids such as phenylalanine and tyrosine. This hormone is also a neurotransmitter and it is required for the production of adrenaline. If a person suffers from low norepinephrine, he/she may experience low energy and lack of motivation and concentration, while elevated levels of norepinephrine may cause stress, anxiety, hyperactivity and high blood pressure.
Looking at both of these hormones, it can be said that the difference is in their chemical formula and their functions. Adrenaline controls every tissue in the body while noradrenaline controls the brain and the parts responsible for relationship and actions between the mind and body.
Effects of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine
Both of these hormones regulate attention, focus, cognition and arousal. They increase respiration and heart rate and also increase the level of glucose and fatty acids in blood. These hormones normally stop all unnecessary processes in the body, elevate the level of oxygen in blood, dilate the pupils and lead to profuse sweating in order to cool the body.
Epinephrine and Norepinephrine Imbalance
Poor nutrition, unbalanced diet, unhealthy lifestyle, some genetic factors, problems with functioning of the digestive system and use of some medications may lead to hormone imbalance (particularly imbalance of adrenaline and noradrenaline). Various infections and allergies, some diseases or even injuries may also result in the same problem.
Imbalance of these hormones in the body could provoke different health problems such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, some eating disorders or obesity, chronic pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) etc. Adrenal dysfunction and fibromyalgia may also be the results of epinephrine/norepinephrine imbalance. In some cases, this imbalance can be even blamed for early death.