Function of Adrenal Glands

The adrenals are triangular shaped glands, located on top of both kidneys; they produce hormones which regulate the body’s response to stress, and also some sex hormones and their precursors.

They are divided into an inner part – the medulla- where adrenaline and noradrenaline are produced as an immediate reaction to acute stress; and an outer layer- the cortex- the site of production of cortisol, which is crucial to the body’s defence against chronic or repeated stress. The cortex is also the site of production of another major hormone, aldosterone, which controls salt and water balance, and is a major factor in the regulation of blood pressure. Also produced in the adrenal cortex are DHEA and adrenal sex hormone precursors such as pregnenalone and androstendione- which function as antioxidants and balance the negative effects of cortisol, as well as acting as an auxiliary site of sex hormone synthesis.

The production of adrenal hormones is, in turn, regulated by a feedback loop, involving the pituitary and hypothalamus in the brain; which regulate the production of adrenal stress hormones through the action of ACTH (Adrenal Corticotrophin Hormone) on the adrenal glands. This system is referred to as the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis).

Disorders of the adrenal glands
Stress & The General Adaptation Response
General Adaptation Syndrome
Adrenal Fatigue: Signs & Symptoms
Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue