Adrenaline: only surfers know the feeling | Photo: Ed Grant

Adrenaline, medically known as epinephrine, is released into the bloodstream from the medulla in the adrenal glands when surfers ride intense waves. So, is it good or bad to be an adrenaline junkie?

Adrenaline is a fantastic hormone. As danger and fear are activated in human brain, adrenaline bursts invade almost all body tissues and change the way muscles behave.

When surfers put their lives in danger - especially in big wave surfing conditions or on dangerous wave peaks - their bodies ignite the so-called fight-or-flight response: a reaction to the information transmitted to the nervous system by the senses.

As adrenaline reaches the final target, muscles work in order to perform respiration at an increased rate to improve strength and resistance. Survival mode is triggered so that all your systems get ready to protect life.

Adrenaline was isolated for the first time in 1901 from the adrenal glands of sheep and oxen by the Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine. In the last 100 years, scientists have discovered that adrenaline has impact on several human organs.

Epinephrine increases heart and respiratory rate, and promotes vasodilatation. At the same time, adrenaline stimulates glycogenolysis in the liver and triggers lipolysis to burn fat. Muscle contraction accelerates breathing.

It has been proven that the effects of adrenaline are positive for surfers. The pumped-up sensation felt before or immediately after an extreme surfing moment happens when the surfer's body releases dopamine to act as a natural painkiller.

Surfing demands a balanced system of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. When you're paddling, oxygen is vital (aerobic). When you're taking off and riding the wave, you're ordering and consuming energy and muscle power (anaerobic).

It is possible that you'll burn less fat. Anaerobic sports produce lactic acid, which blocks adrenaline's fat consumption properties.

Water is health and, according to many, surfing is one of the most complete sports. But be careful. "Adrenaline junkies", as described in the iconic surf movie "Point Break," can suffer exhaustion, irritability and restlessness due to adrenaline withdrawal on days when there is no surf.