The adrenal glands are small, yet powerful sources of hormones in your body.  These two glands, no bigger than a walnut and weighing less than a grape, sit atop of your kidney.  They are responsible for secreting hormones that help your body react to stressful situations.  They also help control the growth and maintenance of other organs in your body.  In short, these glands in conjunction with the rest of the endocrine system help your body return to homeostasis when you have strayed.

Since stress is a vague word, the adrenal glands must be able to respond to both positive and negative stresses alike.  Stress can arise from physical, emotional, physiological, and psychological sources.  For example, when you are cut off while driving, it is epinephrine that causes your blood pressure to rise.  Similarly, when you are dealing with some bad news, cortisol is released in an attempt to deal with that stress.  Other hormones that arise from the adrenal glands include estrogen, testosterone, and norepinephrine to name a few.

While it is understood that the adrenal gland is necessary for normal functioning of the body’s systems, it may not be known what factors are harmful to the system.  Overstimulation of the gland by consuming too much sugar, coffee, tea, soda, and other stimulants is part of the problem.  Leading a stressful lifestyle can also play a part in the breakdown of these glands.

Major diseases associated with the adrenal gland are: Pheochromocytoma (tumor of cells in the adrenal gland), Cushing’s syndrome (excessive cortisol release), and Hyperaldosteronism (too much aldosterone, which leads to high blood pressure).

Be sure to keep your lifestyle in order to keep your adrenal glands functioning optimally.  Remember that this includes control of your diet and taking the steps to reduce stresses in your life.