What Is Norepinephrine – Its Functions, Production In The Body, Epinephrine Deficiency And Excesses.

A Guide To Understanding This Unique Hormon Neurotransmitter!

Adrenalin or epinephrine induces the ‘Fight or Flight’ syndrome in us; it makes us face dangers or back away from it.  But what happens when the danger has passed? Which hormone is going to tell the body to calm down?

This is where norepinephrine comes into the picture. It is neither an opposing nor aiding hormone to adrenalin, it simply ensures that you don’t keep fighting or running away once danger has passed.

 

Norepinephrine, Its Functions and Areas of Production in The Body

 

Chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters are produced in the body to act as a control element for the various essential internal functions and processes taking place within it. Neurotransmitters are transported via nerve channels to the target site. Conversely, hormones are produced by special organs called ‘endocrine glands’ in the body and are released into the blood stream to find their way to the target site.

Epinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone, especially if one looks at its sites of production and its respective functions.

As a neurotransmitter, it is produced in special nerve cells called ‘postganglionic’ neurons present in the involuntary nervous system. Here, it is manufactured either through conversion of another neurotransmitter called dopamine or processed from an amino acid called tyrosine. Within the brain, norepinephrine is primarily concerned with producing a feeling of well-being and euphoria in a person, apart from regulating other mental attributes such as learning, attention, emotions and sleep pattern.

As a hormone, norepinephrine is synthesized in adrenal glands, which are situated at the tip of the kidneys. When produced in this capacity, norepinephrine plays a pivotal role in defining your body’s response mechanism during stress.

 

Norepinephrine As A Part Of Homeostasis

skeletal chemical structure of norepinephrine

Two hormones namely epinephrine and norepinephrine are released during emergency situations. In such situations, epinephrine is released across the body to accelerate specific processes and increase efficiency in order to accomplish the self-preservation aspect by making you more alert and responsive.

From a physiological point of view, everything from your lung functions, blood flow volume, muscle strength and sensory sharpness see an uncharacteristic increase for the period that the stress situation exists.

As the threat perception subsides, norepinephrine is released to instruct the body processes to return back to their normal state of functioning. This biochemical method of reinstating balance of bodily functions is known as homeostasis and it prevents the body from burning out from such high octane situations.

 

Norepinephrine Used As A Drug

 

In cases of medical emergencies, where a person’s blood pressure becomes dangerously low, artificially synthesized norepinephrine is injected into the body to increase the blood volume and get the pressure back to normal.

However, when administered in inappropriate quantities, the same life saving drug can produce severe consequences such as numbness in the hands and legs owing to muscle pain or weakness, discolored skin, bluish lips etc. In some cases, patients may also experience disorientation and changes in vision.

 

Epinephrine Deficiency And Excesses

 

When epinephrine is produced in inadequate quantities as a neurotransmitter, it affects brain functions. Depression is one of the symptoms when there is a deficiency of the neurotransmitter in the brain. As a result, the individual is less alert, faces concentration issues and engulfed in a low mood state.

On the other hand, excess presence of norepinephrine in the brain causes a condition called ‘Hyperarousal’, which results in a person experiencing extreme anxiety, irritation and restlessness. The same individual might also face physical effects such as jumpiness and tension in the muscles.

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