What is growth hormone?
As an integrative physician I will frequently be asked questions regarding the optimization of hormones involved with obtaining or keeping oneself in the best possible shape and sexual performance, regardless of age. What I will do in this article, is to answer the most frequent questions I’m asked regarding growth hormone.
Growth hormone (hGH) is a peptide secreted by the anterior part of the pituitary gland after being signaled by a hormone called growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) from the hypothalamus. Growth hormone is called growth hormone because it is at its highest levels in people that are growing such as children and young adults. However, growth hormone has many functions in the body besides stimulating growth. HGH helps to regulate body composition, sexual function, sleep, fluid shifting within the body, fat and sugar metabolism, cardiovascular function and muscle and bone growth regardless of age.
There are several commercially available brands of hGH but they’re all the same generic drug Somatropin. Depending on the dosage used, the cost for a prescription of hGH usually runs between $1000-$3000 per month. That’s a lot of dollars per month! And is the biggest reason many individuals are using hGH obtained on the black market, where it is produced in countries such as China and India. Unfortunately, obtaining ones hGH on the black market is very risky. There is no guarantee of purity and will frequently have contaminants. On top of that, anyone using a black market hGH product, has no recourse if they get sick from the product.
The good news is; for most people wanting to boost their hGH level, there is no reason to use hGH. With the advent of peptides that stimulate one’s body to produce your own growth hormone. These peptides are not only much safer but also a much better value.
What does growth hormone due in adults? As I mentioned above, the most important job for growth hormone in children is to stimulate growth so they reach their proper stature and development. In adults, the major benefits of having optimal hGH levels does not include growing taller. However, when done right, the benefits include: Optimizing body composition by helping to increase the percentage of lean body mass while at the same time helping to decrease the amount of body fat, better sexual performance and experience, better sleep, better immune function, improved bone density, improved cardiovascular function, improving the signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI), improved healing and recovery from injuries, etc..
Is human growth hormone safe?
HGH can be safe, if it’s done under the supervision of a medical specialist and assuming the patient has a low or relatively low hGH level. However, there are several risks involved with taking too much hGH. The most frequently seen adverse effects experienced by individuals taking too much hGH are: Edema, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint and muscle pain, glucose intolerance and paresthesia’s. Less common but more severe adverse effects from the inappropriate use of hGH include: acromegaly, organomegaly, heart failure, and diabetes.
What does growth hormone due in adults?
Once and individual’s growth plates close (i.e. they have reached their adult height) they can no longer become taller. However, that doesn’t mean that their bones won’t grow if they’re growth hormone level is too high. To the contrary, their bones can grow. But, the type of growth is abnormal. Instead of the bones growing on their long axis they grow on the short axis and can lead to a condition called acromegaly. Acromegaly is not a good look; picture a Neanderthal! Another serious adverse effect from having excessively high levels of hGH is organomegaly. Organomegaly is where organs within an individual’s body grow to a disproportionate size. Organs such as the liver and heart. This is the reason some bodybuilder’s, past and present have “a gut on them” even though they have no belly fat to speak of. The growing liver has to go somewhere. So, it protrudes the upper abdomen outward. This is also the reason some bodybuilder’s have to undergo cardiac surgery to replace their heart valves. The heart is muscle and hGH can cause the cardiac muscle to outgrows the non-muscle valves, which are not muscle, leading to incompetent valves resulting in heart failure.
With that said, having growth hormone levels at an optimal physiologic level is a very good thing. Ideal growth hormone levels promote improved immune function, improved sleep, improved sexual function, improved exercise capacity, improved mental health with a better sense of well-being, improved body composition, improved bone density, improved skin integrity and improved healing.
Individuals with optimal growth hormone levels tend to enjoy better aging and health. Due to the fact I screen for growth hormone deficiency in all my patients, I have “picked up” numerous patient’s with adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). Patients with growth hormone deficiency frequently present with fatigue, a decrease in exercise capacity, loss of muscle mass with an increase in visceral fat and a decline in there since of well-being. Many of these patients feel as if they’re “wasting away” and getting older faster than they think they should.
Fortunately, correcting low growth hormone levels with either a growth hormone secretagogue, hGH or hGH fragments is very well tolerated and results in improvement in most of the complaints experienced by patients with growth hormone deficiency.
Does Growth Hormone work?
Yes. When hGH levels are optimized by the guidance of a physician specializing in hormone replacement, as outlined in the above paragraphs.
How can I increase my growth hormone?
There are numerous ways to increase one’s growth hormone levels. The best way to promote optimal hGH levels as we age, is to live a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle includes exercising regularly, eating the right foods or more importantly avoiding the wrong foods and getting enough sleep. When it comes to exercise, resistance training stimulates hGH production the most followed by high intensity interval training (HIIT) training. The ideal workout schedule is; resistance training for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of HIIT 6 days per week. As far as the diet is concerned it’s important to avoid processed foods, foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates. Alcohol quickly breaks down into sugar, so make sure to drink alcohol in moderation. A good role is also not to eat or drink anything, other than water, 2 hours before bedtime. Doing so inhibits growth hormone release.
There are numerous supplements that one can take to promote growth hormone release. Making sure you get enough protein and essential amino acids is important. There are also numerous over-the-counter oral supplements that are secretagogue peptides that can promote growth hormone release. Next in line in terms of potency artery injectable secretagogue peptides (see my article on peptides) and growth hormone fragments. These new injectables are so effective, there is rarely a need to use synthetic hGH. However, synthetic hGH is obviously very effective in increasing hGH levels.