Norepinephrine also called noradrenaline is both a hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, and a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger which transmits signals across nerve endings in the body. Norepinephrine is produced in the inner part of the adrenal glands, also called the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla also makes adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). Norepinephrine, adrenaline and dopamine belong are part of the catecholamine family.  Adrenal glands are making primarily adrenaline and most of the norepinephrine in the blood comes from nerve endings. It plays a role in your mood and ability to concentrate. Together with other hormones, norepinephrine helps the body respond to stress and exercise. Other hormones include:

What Does Norepinephrine Do?

Together with adrenaline, norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pumping from the heart. It also increases blood pressure and helps break down fat and increase blood sugar levels to provide more energy to the body.

In the brain, norepinephrine plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle, helping you to wake up, in increasing attention and focusing on performing a task ,and in memory storage. It is also important for emotions. Problems with norepinephrine levels are associated with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. Bursts of norepinephrine can lead to euphoria (very happy) feelings but are also linked to panic attacks, elevated blood pressure, and hyperactivity. Low levels can cause lethargy (lack of energy), lack of concentration, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and possibly depression. Some anti-depressant medications affect norepinephrine levels in the brain.

In stressful situations, norepinephrine increases as part of the fight or flight response to mobilize the brain and body for action.

Norepinephrine can be used to treat low blood pressure (hypotension) that can occur during certain medical procedures or life-threatening situations where cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is needed.

How Can you Increase Norepinephrine Naturally?

Norepinephrine and serotonin are a great pair. These chemicals help combat antidepressant effects and have therapeutic benefits. Serotonin, also called a “feel-good” hormone, improves mood and norepinephrine improves alertness and energy. You can boost these chemicals naturally through:

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Small accomplishments 
  • Music
  • Meditation
  • Eating dopamine rich foods such as chocolate

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How does norepinephrine affect my mood? 
  • How can I improve my norepinephrine and serotonin levels? 
  • Is my high blood pressure due to too much norepinephrine or adrenaline?
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