The functions of the adrenal glands are controlled by the same two glands–the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland (the HPA axis as it is called) that control the thyroid.  If the hypothalamus senses that the body is deficient in hormones (mainly cortisol) that are produced by the adrenal glands, it secretes releasing hormones.  The primary releasing hormone is corticotrophin releasing factor (“CRF”). The CRF stimulates the pituitary gland to release an amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (“ACTH”).   ACTH then stimulates the adrenal glands to release corticosteroid hormones.   The most common of the corticosteroid hormone is hydrocortisone–cortisol.

Also produced from the adrenal cortex is corticosterone and aldosterone.  Corticosterone and cortisol combine to regulate the immune response of the body and also to reduce inflammation.  Aldosterone’s function is to moderate the amount of salt and water and to control blood pressure.