Also known as adrenaline or L(-)-Epinephrine, epinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter transferred by the nervous system that creates a fight-or-flight response in the body. When produced naturally by the body, it helps us respond effectively to short-term stress. Epinephrine is also used as a drug to treat cardiac arrest, asthma, and allergic reactions, especially those which could be fatal if left untreated.
The first time that epinephrine was produced artificially was in 1895 by a physiologist from Poland, named Napoleon Cybulski. Artificially derived product has saved many lives since its development. It can be used in emergency situations by those who are suffering from an asthma attack or from anaphylaxis, in order to allow breathing again. Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is the term for a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Those who have a severe allergy to peanuts or the venom from bee stings, for example often keep a syringe of epinephrine on hand, just in case.
Adrenaline is often referred to as a fight-or-flight hormone, because it helps the body cope with perceived threats. When a threat arises, such as the threat of physical harm, this hormone prepares the body to either stay and confront the threat, or flee quickly enough to survive. It does this by restricting blood flow to certain areas of the body, while increasing blood flow to the muscles. It also dilates the pupils, opens up the airways of the lungs, and increases the heart rate and blood sugar.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine have many similarities: they are both sympathomimetic agents that are similar in chemical structure. Both hormones are produced in the medulla and are released by the adrenal glands. They share many similarities in the actions caused, as both have arousing effects on the body, such as increased heart rate. Unlike L(-)-Epinephrine(CAS No. 51-43-4), norepinephrine is a psychoactive drug that creates a reaction in the brain. Because of this norepinephrine is often included in medications to treat depression. When given in combination with serotonin, another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine can positively affect both mood and behavior.
When bosy produce adrenaline in generally smaller amounts than are administered medically, high levels of stress over long periods of time can have a very damaging effect on the immune system. Perceived threats, whether physical or psychological, cause the production of adrenaline. While in moderation it can make us more effective in these situations, chronically stressed people are likely to be much more prone to infection and illness than those with manageable stress levels