Adrenaline: what does it do to you?

Adrenaline is the hormone that provides that kick when bungee jumping or that exciting horror movie. But adrenaline does much more than that. What are the benefits of adrenaline and why do we love the rush created by adrenaline? Adrenaline, in Latin ‘adrenal gland’, is also sometimes called ‘stress hormone’. The release of large amounts of adrenaline in the body is therefore one of the first things that happen when there is an acute danger. This increases heart rate and blood pressure, among other things. The release of adrenaline is part of a chain of physical reactions in times of acute danger that trigger a fight or flight response.

In optimal readiness

Adrenaline is produced by your adrenal glands. These lie on top of the kidneys. The hormone is transported throughout the body through the blood and other hormones and neurotransmitters are produced in other parts of the body. A chain of reactions follows, the end result being increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and increased breathing. In addition, the blood can reach essential parts of the body better because the veins there are dilated. In contrast, the veins in non-essential parts of the body constrict so that more blood is available to the essential parts of the body. This may explain the feeling of butterflies in the stomach at such times. Your muscles and senses are also on edge. At the same time, your feeling of pain is dampened by the production of endorphins, which function as a neurotransmitter. In short: through the chain reaction set in motion by adrenaline, your body is in optimal readiness when acute danger threatens, ready to fight or flee.

Perform at the top of your abilities

Everyone has heard one; a story in which someone achieves seemingly impossible top performances when acute danger threatens. However, these stories do not count as scientific evidence. The existence of this kind of ‘superpower’ cannot therefore be scientifically proven. Imagine if we had people fight dangerous animals for a scientific study! What is clear is that we can perform at our best when our lives or those of our loved ones are at stake and we are under the influence of a large dose of adrenaline. With the help of the dilated blood vessels in essential body parts, more blood flows through our muscles and limbs. These limbs and muscles therefore receive more oxygen to function better. In addition, the large amount of adrenaline that is released ensures that your body converts the energy raw material glycogen into sugar glucose, fuel in its purest form. In other words: adrenaline makes you strong.


Just as your body concentrates on the optimal functioning of essential body parts such as your muscles and heart under the influence of adrenaline, it also improves the functioning of your memory, together with another stress hormone called cortisol. Under the influence of adrenaline and cortisol, your brain only focuses on the main things. This is one reason why victims of a robbery often find it difficult to describe, for example, the color of the robber’s shoes. After all, the color of the robber’s shoes is not of vital importance at that moment. Positive experiences can also be better stored under the influence of adrenaline. A period of falling in love is in fact also a period of extra tension. Partly due to the influence of adrenaline, you only have eyes for each other.

Lifesaving medicine

Adrenaline is a life-saving drug. This is partly because it boosts the heart rate and blood pressure. When someone is in analactic shock, a shot of adrenaline can save his or her life. Even if someone is allergic to bee stings and has been stung by a bee, a little adrenaline, which is also contained in the EpiPen, can stop the allergic reaction.

NB! Is addictive

This is not directly due to the adrenaline itself, but due to the dopamine that is released as a result of the adrenaline released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters transmit signals between nerve endings in the brain. In the case of dopamine, the message is: DELICIOUS! The fact that this has an addictive effect can be seen, among other things, in the use of cocaine. Cocaine causes the release of extra dopamine in the brain. This dopamine remains present between the nerve endings for a long time. This has a stimulating effect, both caused by an adrenaline rush and caused by cocaine. The danger is that if you are prone to addiction you may look for more and more cocaine or, in the case of adrenaline, a new stimulus that causes a ‘kick’. However, a prolonged presence of adrenaline is dangerous. It can lead to heart rhythm disorders. In addition, long-term stress and exhaustion threaten when your body is constantly on high alert. An occasional adrenaline rush doesn’t hurt. It puts your body on high alert and provides a good feeling. You have braved the danger, that gives a ‘kick’.

Scroll to Top