HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE, should you take a supplement or medication - side effects, benefits - human growth hormone replacement therapy, will it help you live longer? by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 24 2014

One of the most important hormones secreted by the pituitary gland is HGH or human growth hormone. Human growth hormone stimulates the growth of muscles and bones and helps regulate metabolism, and influences sexual enjoyment. HGH can sharply increase the flow of sugar into muscle and fat, stimulate protein production in liver and muscle, and slow the production of fatty tissue. More prolonged effects of human growth hormone --  blocking the uptake and use of sugars, causing blood sugar levels to rise, and increasing the production of fat and fat levels in the blood --  seem to counteract its immediate positive effects. In many cases, human growth hormone appears to work by activating a number of growth factors, the most important of which is insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I).
   Exercise is a very potent stimulator of growth hormone release and there is considerable research documenting the dramatic growth hormone rise.

Deficiency
Many symptoms being part of the human growth hormone deficiency syndrome in adults like decrease in muscle mass and bone mineral content, increase in fat mass, and skin atrophy are observed also with aging. Indeed, short term trials with human growth hormone administration to persons over 60 years old revealed that many of these symptoms could be reversed by growth hormone.

Human growth hormone use in elderly - results not encouraging
It is heavily promoted as an anti-aging treatment. Several studies have shown that growth hormone treatment can improve body composition, bone density, and cholesterol levels. Dr. Hau Liu, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues examined the risks and benefits of human growth hormone therapy in elderly individuals by analyzing data from relevant studies. The average patient age at the start of the study was 69 years and the most of the subjects were overweight but not obese. The average initial human growth hormone dose was 14 micrograms per kilogram per day, and the average treatment duration was 27 weeks. Although statistically significant, the drop in overall fat mass and the increase in lean body mass were small, -2.1 kg and 2.1 kg, respectively. Growth hormone therapy led to a decrease in total cholesterol levels, but the reduction was not statistically significant after accounting for body composition changes. Growth hormone had no apparent effect on bone density or fat levels in the blood plasma. Side effects were common with growth hormone therapy and included swelling, joint pain, breast enlargement in men, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Growth hormone therapy may have slightly increased the risk of diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine, January 16, 2007.

Eur J Endocrinology. October 1 2013. GH therapy and cancer risk in hypopituitarism: what we know from human studies. It has been difficult to identify factors that affect the risk of cancer, but we know that people are at higher risk as they get older, or if they have a strong family history of cancer. The potential influence of environmental and behavioral factors remains poorly understood. Early population-based and case-control studies suggested that higher serum levels of IGF1 could be associated with increased cancer risk. Since GH therapy increases IGF1 levels, concern has been raised regarding its potential role as a cancer initiation factor. Experimental evidence and some clinical studies showed that when GH/IGF1 secretion or action was inhibited, a decreased incidence and rate of progression of cancers occurred.

History
Human Growth Hormone was first isolated in 1956 and its structure was identified in 1972. Human growth hormone is made naturally in the pituitary gland of humans, deep inside the brain just behind the eyes. It is a microscopic protein substance that is secreted in short pulses during the first hours of sleep and after exercise.

Pharmaceutical Human Growth Hormone HGH versus Over the Counter Scams
Although pharmaceutically made human growth hormone (a complicated hormone made by joining about 190 amino acids) has been shown in certain studies to have short term anti-aging potential, long term consequences are unclear. Human growth hormone excess can lead to a condition called acromegaly. There is no guarantee that real pharmaceutical growth hormone extends life span. In fact, in some animal studies, reducing the release of growth hormone extends life span.

Over the past few years, there have been untold number of over the counter supplements that claim to work in a way similar to the real pharmaceutical human growth hormone, or claim that their product stimulates growth hormone release. At this point none of the companies (as far as I know) have done any significant research to prove that their product has anti-aging benefits over the long term. In fact, almost none have done any significant research at all.

Alternatives to Human Growth Hormone HGH
There are many supplements that have similar potential. For instance:

For more muscle mass - see Creatine
For more stamina - see Energy
Anti-aging - see Longevity
For better blood sugar control - Diabetes
For better sex - there are many herbal supplements mentioned at libido web page or see Passion Rx below, a powerful sex booster with
ashwagandha, catuaba, cnidium monnieri, coleus forskohlii, horny goat weed, maca, mucuna pruriens, muira puama, passion flower, pfaffia paniculata, rhodiola, shilajit, tribulus terrestris, tongkat ali, but no yohimbe.
For better vision - see Eyesight herbal formula.
For cautious hormone replacement, see DHEA and pregnenolone - tiny doses of 1 or 2 mg may benefit some people

Having said all this, it is possible that medical researchers may someday find a low dose of human growth hormone  given at the appropriate times to appropriate individuals may improve health and extend life span, but that day is not here yet.

Human Growth hormone side effects
Although pharmaceutically made human growth hormone (a complicated hormone made by joining about 190 amino acids) has been shown in certain studies to have short term anti-aging potential, long term consequences are unclear. A major side effect of human growth hormone excess is a condition called acromegaly. There is no guarantee that real pharmaceutical GH extends life span. In fact, in some animal studies, reducing the release of growth hormone extends life span.
     Additional side effects of human growth hormone are fluid retention and increased blood sugar. The human growth hormone side effect of fluid retention can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and hypertension. Some people also have body and joint aches. Excessive sweating is another reported human growth hormone side effect.
      A side effect of human growth hormone use in children is associated with a higher risk of cancer in later years.
     Another potential human growth hormone side effect is an association of high insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)-concentrations and increased risk of prostate, lung, colon and breast cancer as well as a possible decrease of insulin sensitivity. These potential human growth hormone side effects are of concern when it comes to the use of this hormone in an attempt to reverse a normal aging process. No data are available as to the right human growth hormone dose and the correct monitoring. Expectations of the society and the search for the fountain of youth should not motivate physicians to leave the firm ground of evidence based medicine and prescribe experimental therapies to healthy older persons, the least being the cost of such therapy which could run into thousands of dollars a year.
   New research indicates the use of human growth hormone by athletes who take HGHe in an effort to enhance their performance increases the risk of developing diabetes.

What about supplements that enhance human growth hormone release?
Research is gradually starting regarding the positive benefits of certain supplements in their ability to release human growth hormone. One such combination is glycine, glutamine and niacin. See the research article below.
        Two of the best ways to maintain healthy human growth hormone release are to exercise frequently, and to have deep sleep.

Ornithine, Arginine, and Human Growth Hormone release

Certain amino acids, such as arginine and ornithine, can stimulate the release of growth hormone when infused intravenously or administered orally. Some individuals ingest amino acids before strength training workouts, thinking that this enhances exercise-induced growth hormone release, thereby promoting greater gains in muscle mass and strength. There is a wide range of response of growth hormone release to amino acid administration between different people. A number of factors are involved including training status, sex, age, medications, other supplements, and diet. Although IV administration consistently leads to increased circulating growth hormone concentration, oral doses that are great enough to induce significant growth hormone release are likely to cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea. During exercise, intensity is a major determinant of growth hormone release. Up to now, studies have not consistently found that pre-exercise oral amino acid supplementation enhances growth hormone release. In addition,, no major studies have found that oral supplementation with arginine and ornithine before strength training increases muscle mass and strength to a greater extent than strength training alone. The use of specific amino acids to stimulate growth hormone release by athletes is probably not worthwhile.

 

Human growth hormone and children
For short kids, treatment with growth hormone leads to height increases of up to 7.5 centimeters (just under 3 inches), but the majority of these children will remain shorter than their peers.

 

Boys who are short due to underlying health problems are more likely than their female counterparts to be treated with growth hormone -- but the gap is not explained by a bias in doctors' recommendations for treatment. Growth hormone therapy may be prescribed to children with short stature due to certain medical causes, such as growth hormone deficiency, kidney disease and the side effects of brain radiation to treat cancer.

Research
One year of Human growth hormone replacement therapy with a fixed low-dose regimen improves body composition, bone mineral density and lipid profile of GH-deficient adults.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2005.
We have studied the effects on body composition and metabolism of a fixed low dose of Human growth hormone, 0.6 IU (0.2 mg)/day, administered for 12 months to Human growth hormone-deficient adults. Prospective open-label study, using 18 Human growth hormone deficient patients (11 women, 7 men; aged 21-58 years). All investigations were performed at baseline and after 12 months. Body composition was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Total body fat decreased and lean body mass (LBM) increased (1.27+/-2.08 kg) after therapy. Changes in truncal fat did not reach statistical significance, but a decrease varying from 0.72 to 2.78kg (1 to 8.7%) was observed in 13 (72%) patients. Bone mineral density (BMD) increased at lumbar spine, total femur and femoral neck. Levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol were lower after therapy, and their changes were directly associated with values at baseline. Insulin levels increased and the insulin resistance index worsened at 12 months (P < 0.05). Side effects were mild and disappeared spontaneously. One-year of a fixed low-dose Human growth hormone regimen in Human growth hormone deficient adults resulted in a significant reduction in body fat, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, and a significant increase in LBM and BMD at lumbar spine and femur, regardless of normalization of IGF-I levels. This regimen led to an elevation of insulin levels and a worsening of the insulin resistance index. Human growth hormone treatment attenuates age-related changes in hippocampal short-term plasticity and spatial learning.

Long-term outcome of human growth hormone therapy in children and adolescents.
Treat Endocrinol. 2004. Lanes R. Pediatric Endocrine Unit, Hospital de Clinicas Caracas, Caracas, Venezuela.
Human Growth hormone has been available for more than 4 decades for the treatment of Human growth hormone deficiency. Initially, Human growth hormone was extracted from the pituitary glands of human cadavers, but its use was discontinued following the transmission of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob virus. After the development of recombinant Human growth hormone (somatropin) in 1985, an 'unlimited' commercial source of Human growth hormone has been available, allowing for the treatment of a large number of short Human growth hormone-deficient and -sufficient children. Refinements in both the dosage and the frequency of administration of Human growth hormone have allowed Human growth hormone -deficient children to reach nearly normal final heights, although mostly they are still below their target heights. Decreased bone mineral densities and increased concentrations of fasting and postprandial lipids, coagulation factors, and several independent cardiovascular risk factors have been reported in Human growth hormone -deficient children and adolescents and appear to improve with Human growth hormone administration. The short-term administration of Human growth hormone to mostly non- Human growth hormone -deficient short children with Turner syndrome, chronic renal insufficiency (CRI), intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), and idiopathic short stature (ISS) has resulted in increased growth velocities. In addition, the final height of patients with Turner syndrome and CRI appears to improve with the long-term administration of Human growth hormone. Final height data are still lacking in adolescents with IUGR, but height standard deviation score and final height predictions appear to improve with therapy. Based on the incomplete and inconclusive available data, one must conclude that Human growth hormone treatment of children with ISS cannot be advised. The use of Human growth hormone at replacement doses in children with Human growth hormone deficiency has resulted in rare and generally reversible adverse effects. The long-term administration of pharmacologic Human growth hormone doses to short, mostly non- Human growth hormone -deficient children must, however, still be viewed with caution, as long-term complications cannot as yet be fully evaluated. Human growth hormone therapy must be individualized and should be limited only to children with severe short stature or a significantly decreased growth velocity, to children under considerable stress due to their short stature, and to patients in whom low Human growth hormone or low insulin-like growth factor-1 secretion might be the rate-limiting factors for growth. The cost of the medication and the inconvenience of daily Human growth hormone injections to otherwise mostly healthy short children must also be taken into account.

Justified and unjustified use of human growth hormone.
Postgrad Med J. 2004.
Human growth hormone replacement therapy for children and adults with proven Human growth hormone deficiency due to a pituitary disorder has become an accepted therapy with proven efficacy. Human growth hormone is increasingly suggested, however, as a potential treatment for frailty, osteoporosis, morbid obesity, cardiac failure, and various catabolic conditions. However, the available placebo controlled studies have not reported many significant beneficial effects, and it might even be dangerous to use excessive Human growth hormone dosages in conditions in which the body has just decided to decrease Human growth hormone actions. Human growth hormone can indeed induce changes in body composition that are considered to be advantageous to Human growth hormone deficient and non-Human growth hormone deficient subjects. In contrast to Human growth hormone replacement therapy in Human growth hormone deficient subjects, however, excessive Human growth hormone action due to Human growth hormone misuse seems to be ineffective in improving muscle power. Moreover, there are no available study data to indicate that the use of Human growth hormone for non-Human growth hormone deficient subjects should be advocated, especially as animal data suggest that lower Human growth hormone levels are positively correlated with longevity.

Effects of an oral mixture containing glycine, glutamine and niacin on memory, GH and IGF-I secretion in middle-aged and elderly subjects.
Nutr Neurosci. 2003.
Aging is associated with declining activity of the growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor-I (GH-IGF-I) axis and with a decrease in cognitive function. The stimulatory effect of an orally administered nutritional supplement, mainly containing glycine, glutamine and niacin on the HGH-IGF-I axis and on mood and cognition was investigated. Forty-two healthy subjects (14 men and 28 women, aged 40-76 years) were enrolled in a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. They received 5 g of a nutritional supplement or placebo, twice daily orally for a period of 3 weeks. At baseline and after 3 weeks, blood was collected for measurement of serum GH and IGF-I levels and mood and cognitive function were tested. The nutritional supplement ingestion for 3 weeks was found to increase serum
human growth hormone levels with 70% relatively to placebo, whereas circulating IGF-I levels did not change. Mean GH (+/- SD) increased in this group from 3.23 to 4.67 mU/l. Human growth hormone increase was not associated with improvement in mood or memory. Correlation analyses, however, revealed that individual increases in IGF-I, but not human growth hormone, were associated with improved memory and vigour. It is concluded that an oral mixture of glycine, glutamine and niacin can enhance human growth hormone secretion in healthy middle-aged and elderly subjects.

Human growth hormone treatment attenuates age-related changes in hippocampal short-term plasticity and spatial learning.
Neuroscience. 2004.
Downregulation of the HGH human growth hormone / insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)axis is one of the most robust biomarkers of mammalian aging. Reports have suggested that age-related changes in secretion of growth hormone and IGF-1 contribute to the development of some peripheral characteristics of the aged phenotype including decreased bone density and lean body mass. Recent work has focused on the identification of a role for age-related reductions in growth hormone and IGF-1 in the development of cognitive impairments associated with aging. In the current study, we report that aged (30 month-old) Brown NorwayxFisher rats demonstrate impairments in spatial learning compared with adult (10 month-old) animals, and that 4-month treatment with growth hormone (300 μg twice daily) attenuates age-related learning impairments.  In conclusion, we suggest that age-related decreases in growth hormone and IGF-1 contribute to cognitive decline, in part, via alterations in hippocampal short-term plasticity. Changes in plasticity may reflect a shift in the balance of hippocampal inhibitory and excitatory function.

Journal takes aim at human growth hormone advertisers
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is taking action against advertisers it says are improperly using its name to hawk human growth hormone HGH as an anti-aging remedy, the journal announced Wednesday. Besides posting cautionary information on its Web site about the anti-aging abilities of growth hormone and supplements that claim to boost natural growth hormone, NEJM has contacted the attorneys general of two states to look into advertisers that cite the journal in marketing their products. The moves come in response to consumer complaints NEJM has received over advertisers' use of the journal's name. In 1990, NEJM published the findings of a small study that suggested injections of human growth hormone, or human growth hormone, might boost lean body mass in older men. According to the journal, this article has been cited in "potentially misleading" advertisements for human growth hormone or dietary supplements that purport to be "releasers" of the body's natural human growth hormone supply. "We were getting a lot of complaints about the use of the journal's name" in marketing human growth hormone products, Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, an NEJM editor, told Reuters Health. "We want to make sure people understand we're not endorsing any product," he said. To that end, two articles, one by Drazen, are being published in the February 27th issue of NEJM. The other article is by Dr. Mary Lee Vance of the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, who in 1990 wrote an editorial that NEJM published with the HGH findings in question. In both the new and old articles, Vance stresses that the true usefulness and safety of giving HGH to healthy older adults is unknown. In the 1990 study, six months of human growth hormone injections given to 12 men ages 61 to 81 appeared to boost lean body mass while decreasing fat mass. But whether human growth hormone made a difference in the men's strength, fitness or quality of life was not measured. What's more, Vance writes in the new article, anti-aging products sold on a number of Web sites--including oral or inhaled versions of human growth hormone and supplements touted as natural human growth hormone releasers--have no evidence to back them up. According to Drazen, ads for these supplements are apparently directing readers to the journal's Web site. He said that the 1990 article receives far more "hits" than any other article published that year.  From now on, anyone who reads the article on NEJM's site will also see Drazen's and Vance's articles as a counterbalance. Since January 31, an editor's note has warned readers that the article has been used in "potentially misleading" ads. And the full article, plus Vance's original editorial, were made available for free. Normally, only short summaries of NEJM articles can be viewed by non-subscribers. Drazen said the journal has contacted the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New Jersey and is awaiting their responses. Whether action can be taken against any advertisers is uncertain, but "we think their claims are false and misleading," Drazen said. SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine 2003;348:777-778,779-780.

Human Growth hormone HGH no fountain of youth
Widely touted as a restorer of youth for aging Americans, it offers limited benefits to seniors and carries potentially serious risks, new study findings indicate. Despite its growing popularity, human growth hormone HGH as an anti-aging strategy is "not yet ready for prime time," said study author Dr. S. Mitchell Harman, director of the Kronos Longevity Research Institute, an independent nonprofit group in Phoenix, Arizona."It's not a wonder drug, and it has real risks," he told Reuters Health. Elderly men and women taking human growth hormone gained some muscle and shed some fat over 6 months. But only those men taking both HGH  and testosterone saw any functional gains in strength and cardiovascular endurance, and those gains were modest, Harman and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and other centers report in the November 13th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. And along with other side effects, the risk of diabetes and glucose intolerance, a precursor to diabetes, was heightened among men on human growth hormone. Hundreds of anti-aging clinics across the country already offer human growth hormoneinjections, and health-food stores sell supplements claiming to contain the hormone, Harman said. While there are no statistics on how many Americans take
human growth hormone, the number is probably in the tens of thousands, he estimated. The injections contain a synthetic version of human growth hormone, which is naturally produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and declines with age. The synthetic drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for children with short stature resulting from very low human growth hormone levels. It also is used in adults with such conditions as severe growth hormone deficiency and muscle wasting associated with AIDS. But whether human growth hormone can help reverse the effects of normal aging is an ongoing debate. The latest study involved 74 men and 57 women, all healthy seniors between 65 and 88 years of age. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: growth hormone plus sex steroid (testosterone for men; hormone replacement therapy for women); growth hormone plus placebo (inactive) sex steroid; placebo growth hormone plus sex steroid; or placebo growth hormone plus placebo sex steroid. All participants were instructed to maintain their current diet and exercise regimens. By the end of the 26-week study, women on growth hormone had gained an average of 2 to 5 pounds of muscle and lost about 5 pounds of fat. Likewise, men on growth hormone had gained 7 to 10 pounds of muscle and shed about the same amount of fat. Yet only one study group experienced actual functional improvement. "In men, the combination of growth hormone and testosterone showed small increases in endurance and strength," Harman said. As with human growth hormone levels, testosterone levels also decline with age. In this group of men, cardiovascular endurance increased 8%. Muscle strength increased 7%, though this latter finding was on the borderline of statistical significance. Side effects from growth hormone were most common in men and included swelling of the arms and legs, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint pain and most worrisome, diabetes and glucose intolerance. Eighteen men taking growth hormone developed either diabetes or glucose intolerance during the study, compared with seven men not taking growth hormone. And there could be other, unknown side effects as well, Harman said, noting that seniors are far more likely than children to develop adverse reactions from human growth hormone. SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2002.

Human Growth Hormone HGH Emails
Q. Please could you tell me if homeopathic human growth hormone supplement is safe?  I would like to try it if it is and thought you would be the best person to ask as I have a couple of your excellent books, on DHEA and Melatonin, and wouldn't take a step into this area without your advice.  
   A. Homeopathic human growth hormone supplement, in a nutshell, is a big scam, and those who make undocumented claims regarding this product make the natural health industry look quite unreliable.

Does human growth hormone improve impotence? What can you tell me about sermorelin?
    I am not sure but there are quite a number of effective herbal remedies such as tribulus, mucuna, horny goat weed, and tongkat ali.

Is chest pain a side effect of human growth hormone injection?
    Perhaps, but this side effect is rarely mentioned.

Q. I received this spam email. Is it true? "After the age of twenty-one, your body slowly stops releasing an important hormone known as H G H Human Growth Hormone. The reduction of Human Growth Hormone, which regulates levels of other hormones in the body (including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and melatonin) is directly responsible for many of the most common signs of growing old, such as wrinkles, gray hair, decreased energy, and diminished sexual function. Human Growth Hormone will normally yield the following results: - Boost your immune system
- Rejuvenate your body and mind - Feel & look younger - Reduce wrinkles, lose weight, decrease cellulite - Restore your sex drive and vigor
- Revitalize your heart, liver, kidneys & lungs - Maintain muscle mass - Refresh memory, mood and mental energy - Sleep soundly and awake rested
- Help eliminate stress, fatigue and depression."
   A. Human Growth Hormone injections have not been proven to increase lifespan. Human Growth Hormone over the counter supplements are a scam. Human Growth Hormone side effects are likely to occur with Human Growth Hormone injections.

My sons have a growth disorder, inherited from me. Interestingly, my daughter does not have it. I am trying to avoid pharmaceutical hgh, etc. Do you have alternatives? Are there any herbs, vitamins, nutrients or supplements that actually DO work to stimulate the natural production of growth hormone in teens and pre-teens?
    I am not aware of such herbs dietary supplements that work consistently enough to be effective.

Is there any transdermal growth hormone product available currently? I have search in ncbi and found a 15% gelatin gel claiming to increase blood levels of GH through transdermal administration. Please inform thank you.
    I am not aware of any effective transdermal preparation of this hormone.