Have you ever wondered if there was any truth behind it? Are we channeling some ancestral memory of saber-tooth tiger encounters, or getting thrown into a volcano… facing either would get your juices flowing.
What juices exactly would be flowing (besides urine)? For that we must remember that we were not designed to drive to the local burger joint to stop the hunger pangs. Historically, when we were hungry, we needed to hunt or forage.
Both involved an element of risk, as your fellow foragers, hunters, or quarry might be much larger than you, and ill-disposed to becoming dinner. So, those who were the most ferocious or ran away the fastest survived to eat again and perhaps make offspring.
We call that the fight or flight response. It is well understood now as a neuroendocrine response. I don’t know what that means either.
Epinephrine is the medical name for adrenaline or “go juice.” It is used as communication between nerve cells and other body parts.
Walking through the grass, looking for berries, you suddenly encounter an immense tiger crouching in front of you. That should do the job. Your adrenal glands flood your system with adrenaline and it pumps through every part of your body within seconds.
Your heart rate and blood pressure go way up, as does your breathing. You now have the most fully oxygenated blood. Blood is shunted from the digestive system to the muscles where it can be used to solve your little problem.
Your pupils open up for the best possible vision. You are wound up and ready for action. Run for your life or kill the tiger with your bare hands; you are as ready as the body can make you. And you are not fainting, not even feeling the least bit sleepy. Tiger encounters will do that to you. As I said, it kind of gets the juices going.
This all worked out quite well when the system was designed. All this adrenaline-surged activity occurred in young folks who tolerated it well (of course, nobody lived past 30).
But now we live considerably longer and eat a lot more fast food (two events not causally related). Getting eaten by tigers is a distinctly uncommon cause of death in the 21st century.
Most of us, statistically, will fall to heart disease (atherosclerosis-blockage of the coronary arteries). Coronary artery disease is called the silent killer because you can walk around feeling rather perky, until … This is common in the elderly and even in some very unlucky young people.
Now introduce a big slug of adrenaline from a sudden scare. Heart races, blood pressure rises, and the silent killer isn’t so silent any more. Either a bad heart rhythm (arrhythmias can be caused by adrenalin) or a heart attack. You just got scared to death.
If the person who scared you was committing a crime, then they can be charged with capital murder in your death.
So, if you are wired to be an adrenaline junky, best avoid the smokes and burgers, and perhaps meditate a little.