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August 15, 2011 at 2:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Beast Within

By Dayton from SLN More Blogs by This Author

The Beast Within Us

Have you ever had to run for your life? Have you ever fought someone who was using deadly force? Or maybe trapped in what seemed like a life or death situation? If you have, or if you are an extreme sports enthusiast, you are familiar with a hormone called adrenaline or epinephrine. When adrenaline is released into our bloodstream, our pupils dilate, our heart rate increases, and our breathing becomes more intense. When adrenaline is flowing through our veins we are capable of feats that could be considered as superhuman.  

Adrenaline is released from our Adrenal glands which are right above the kidneys. An intense situation like fighting or running for your life stimulates the hypothalamus, which then sends a chemical signal to the adrenal glands, and these activate the sympathetic system, launching the body into a temporary excited state.

A Heightened State

When you are in this state, your abilities amplify. In some instances, people have lifted cars or boulders off of themselves or other people. When fleeing attackers, sometimes a person can achieve speeds faster than they have ever run and other even claim that time slows down around them. With these seemingly incredible benefits, why aren't we always in this state?

The answer: We would die. Our bodies are designed in a very specific way with checks and balances maintaining homeostasis. When we enter into an elevated state in reaction to an intense event and stay there for a prolonged amount of time, the immune system starts to wear down quickly. That makes a person susceptible to infection and disease very easily. If we use our muscles beyond our capacity, we risk tearing muscles and tendons, and joints can be pulled out of their sockets (ouchh!!). We can also enter a state of exhaustion if we completely drain our body. If that happens during a few intense minutes of adrenaline-induced stress or after prolonged stress at the workplace, we become more prone to heart attack

So, obviously it's best to leave the insane lifting of cars and jumping buildings to emergency situations or just to Superman!

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