The adrenals are a pair of glands capping the upper ends of the kidneys. When they are removed, death ensues rapidly. The gland is composed of a cortex (outer portion) and a medulla (inner portion). The outer portion produces the sex steroids, the glucocorticoids (corticosterone, hydrocortisone) which are involved in the control of carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism and the min-eralocorticoids (aldosterone, deoxycorti-kidney tubules), affecting blood volume and blood pressure control. The adrenals are flat triangular structures. The size and weight is somewhat variable. Each is about 5 cm long and weighs between 3 and 6 grams and is slightly heavier in the male than in the female.
The inner portion of the adrenals is developed from the ectoderm, the outer layer of cells of the embryo. This is the same tissue that produces the sympathetic nervous system. The inner portion secretes adrenalin and noradrenalin. Adrenalin is involved in the "fight or flight" response, whereas noradrenalin causes more vasoconstriction resulting in marked elevation in blood pressure.
The amount of adrenaline and noradrenalin that circulates in the blood is minute in quantity but its action is powerful and farreaching.
Its release is triggered by impulses from the sympathetic nervous system in times of mental or physical stress, the entry of adrenalin into the blood causes a tremendous heightening of vigor. The brain and the sympathetic nervous system become activated. Concentration of blood glucose is raised by conversion from glycogen, which is stored in the liver. More blood cells are poured into circulation from the blood pools of the liver and spleen. The heart beats more strongly and faster, the pupils of the eyes are dilated, enabling the person to see more clearly, breathing is more rapid, the body temperature rises and the basal metabolism is increased.
There is an opposing effect on the digestive system, however, wherein there is a loss of appetite and reduced motility.
Adrenalin adds strength and alertness to both physical and mental activity. It gives force in combat and swiftness in flight. As the activity of adrenalin is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, the secretion of it can be increased by the stimulation of these nerves alongside the spinal column.
Some doctors believe that there is a condition called "low adrenals". A person with a deficiency of adrenalin will appear weary and sensitive to cold, have cold hands and feet, loss of appetite, a tendency to worry, will weep easily and will sometimes even have a nervous breakdown. In children, learning problems develop, growth is slowed, and they cannot be driven or hurried. If we inject someone with adrenalin, his heart will contract more violently and beat faster, he will feel anxious, and will get frightened easily and, if subjected to it for some time, will become a very nervous person.
It is obvious, then, that an intricate, delicate balance of various factors is involved in maintaining a proper harmony of the activities of the various organ systems. In the Tao Esoteric System, the center for adrenal activity is to be found in the Chi-Chung. This is a very powerful energy center and is located in the area that is called the "solar plexus", which corresponds anatomically to the location of the adrenals, the spleen, the pancreas and the kidneys.
Fig.B.1 Endocrine Glands
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