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THE DEBATED THEORIES OF SUPRARENAL FUNCTION

JAMA. 1920;74(5):326. doi:10.1001/jama.1920.02620050034014.
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In a series of contributions published in recent years from the Laboratory of Physiology in the Harvard Medical School, Cannon and his co-workers have developed certain hypotheses with respect to the functions of the suprarenal glands. They have submitted experimental evidence that the suprarenal medulla is stimulated to secrete by emotional excitement, pain and asphyxia—conditions known to be accompanied by activity on the part of the sympathetic nervous system. In natural existence, Cannon argues, these conditions would commonly be associated with more or less struggle; and the visceral changes, including suprarenal secretion, which were said to accompany the emotional states, would be useful in great muscular effort. Both the sympathetic system and the suprarenal medulla were thus interpreted to play a part in important bodily adjustments.1 This was quite different from the view that the suprarenal acts to detoxicate harmful products in the body, or the assumption that secreted

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