Human growth hormone has always been associated mainly with children, who need this substance for proper development, and bodybuilders, whom it helps to build muscle mass. But not so long ago, interest in this substance went far beyond these categories. Now many people are trying to increase the concentration of this hormone in their body by all possible methods. They do this because it supposedly slows down the aging process. How much truth is there in this theory and will taking a synthetic analogue of growth hormone harm your health? To understand this, first you need to figure out what growth hormone is for a person, what its benefits and harm to the body are.
What is human growth hormone
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a protein compound produced by a part of the brain known as the pituitary gland. The production of this substance depends on other hormones produced in the hypothalamus, as well as in the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas. After the pituitary gland gives out the next portion of HGH, this substance remains active in the bloodstream for only a few minutes. But this time is enough for the liver to convert it into growth factors, the most important of which is the insulin-like growth factor-1, which, in fact, gives different cells the ability to grow.
The pituitary gland emits HGH under certain conditions. For example, after intense physical exertion, after injury, as well as during sleep. In the body of a healthy person, growth hormone is produced more intensively at night. The activity of this process also changes at different ages. In children, for example, hormone production occurs quite intensively, reaching its peak during puberty, thanks to which children grow and develop rapidly. But already in middle age, the activity of the pituitary gland slows down, and the amount of HGH produced decreases.
As this substance decreases in the body, changes occur in muscle and bone tissue, which are associated with natural aging. But in the organisms of some people, regardless of age, the amount of HGH can be critically low, which is why various diseases develop. This fact prompted scientists to develop a synthetic analogue of human growth hormone. The first synthetic HGH appeared in the 80s of the last century. By the way, today this substance is presented exclusively in the form of an injection solution. Nevertheless, in online stores you can sometimes see growth hormone in tablets or capsules. So, this is nothing but a fake. There is no human growth hormone in pills. At least, the substance in tablet form is not used for medical purposes. In the form of capsules or tablets, substances that stimulate the production of the hormone can be sold, but not the hormone itself.
The main functions of human growth hormone
Starting from the name of this hormone, it becomes obvious that it is necessary for proper human growth, that is, the main need for this substance is experienced by children. And what about adults? Do adult formed organisms need HGH?
The state of various tissues in the human body depends on the growth hormone. For example, in children and adolescents, HGH stimulates the growth of bones and cartilage. In adults, it increases protein production, promotes the utilization of excess fat, maintains blood sugar levels and increases the concentration of insulin-like growth factor-1. The hormone is necessary for a person to regenerate cells, grow and maintain healthy tissues, including the brain and other vital organs.
Separately, you should talk about growth hormone and the female body. Few people know, but in the body of women, the amount of HGH begins to decrease much earlier than in men – after the age of 20, while in men, the indicators begin to decrease only after 35 years. Signs of a decrease in the hormone in women include dry skin, the appearance of wrinkles, thinning hair, an increase in belly fat.
Growth hormone deficiency
The synthetic analogue of growth hormone was originally developed for medical use. There are conditions and diseases caused by a deficiency of this substance. An effective way to defeat the disease is to take a synthetic substitute.
It is possible to suspect a hormone deficiency in a child if his growth significantly lags behind the norms of his peers. It is possible to determine the lack of HGH in adults only with the help of special tests. Routine blood tests to determine hormone deficiency are useless at best, misleading at worst.
A shortage of HGH can occur for various reasons. For example, in the presence of a benign tumor in the pituitary gland (pituitary adenoma), after surgical treatment of an adenoma or the use of radiation therapy.
For people experiencing hormone deficiency, the introduction of a synthetic substance helps:
- it is easier to tolerate physical activity;
- strengthen bone density and reduce the risk of fractures;
- increase muscle mass;
- reduce the percentage of body fat;
- reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in the future.
Signs of HGH deficiency in children:
- the child is much shorter than his peers;
- it grows less than 5 cm in a year;
- the facial features look younger than they really are;
- there is a delay in puberty;
- slow tooth development;
- fat deposits accumulate in the abdomen and face;
- underdeveloped bridge of the nose;
- hair grows very slowly.
Signs of HGH deficiency in adults:
- tendency to depression and/or increased anxiety;
- hair loss; decreased libido;
- reduced muscle mass and strength;
- memory disorders and concentration difficulties;
- thin and dry skin;
- elevated triglyceride levels;
- rapid fatigue;
- elevated levels of “bad” cholesterol;
- insulin resistance;
- brittle bones, tendency to osteoporosis;
- increased sensitivity to temperature changes;
- weight gain, accumulation of fat mainly in the waist area.
Benefits of growth hormone for the body
1. Accelerates muscle growth
It is known that human growth hormone increases performance, stimulates collagen synthesis in skeletal muscles and tendons, thereby increasing muscle strength and endurance. In one of the issues of the International Endocrinological Journal, the results of studies were published, in which 14 healthy men aged 50 to 70 years participated. They received growth hormone for 6 months. After six months, their muscle strength increased noticeably. In adults with HGH deficiency after prolonged hormone therapy, the researchers noted normalization of muscle strength, endurance and improved thermoregulation.
2. Strengthens bones
This hormone is also responsible for mineral metabolism and the condition of bone tissue. Studies show that the introduction of HGH accelerates bone regeneration after fractures. In addition, it can be useful for the elderly, whose bone tissue is less durable and easier to undergo fractures. Experts also noted the positive effect of HGH on the wound healing process, in particular in elderly people.
3. Promotes weight loss
HGH accelerates the process of splitting fats. This was confirmed by the results of a study in which 24 obese people took part. For 12 weeks, half of them followed a low-calorie diet and took growth hormone, the rest only limited the calorie intake of their daily diet. According to the results of the experiment, it turned out that weight loss in those who took HGH is 1.6 times faster. At the same time, most of the weight lost was visceral fat, which was not observed in people from the control group. Another difference between the groups: those who did not take hormones during weight loss lost not only fat, but also muscle mass. In people who follow hormone therapy, muscle mass, on the contrary, increased.
4. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Adults with growth hormone deficiency have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Swedish scientists came to this conclusion after studying the health status of over a hundred patients. Against the background of hormone deficiency, they had an increased body weight, as well as excessively high cholesterol levels, which worsens the work of the cardiological system.
5. Increases libido
Scientific studies have proven that human growth hormone is also responsible for reproductive function and sexual desire in men. Lack of HGH can cause a decrease in libido and erectile dysfunction. The truth of this theory was confirmed during an experiment in which 45 men with erectile dysfunction participated. After taking a course of hormone therapy, 90% of them improved the work of the reproductive system.
6. Improves mood and cognitive abilities
Lithuanian experts have found confirmation that taking growth hormone can improve a person’s mood and cognitive abilities, his concentration. At least, this is exactly the result that scientists noticed in patients who took HGH for 6 months.
Side effects of Growth Hormone
Nowadays, many people believe that growth hormone slows down aging. Meanwhile, experts recognize that a synthetic analogue should not be perceived as an elixir of eternal youth, and even more so it cannot be used uncontrollably in the fight against age-related changes.
If taking growth hormone is part of drug therapy, and the treatment program is compiled by a specialist, the risk of side effects is lower. But if an absolutely healthy person takes the substance, then the probability of undesirable side effects is quite high (it happens in almost 30% of people who use HGH).
Uncontrolled intake of growth hormone can cause:
- carpal tunnel syndrome (arm pain and numbness);
- increased insulin resistance;
- swelling in the arms and legs;
- muscle and joint pain;
- breast tissue enlargement in men (gynecomastia).
In addition, growth hormone can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiac disorders and increase the risk of certain types of cancer. The abuse of HGH leads to an increase in fingers and toes, changes in the skeleton, an increase in eye sockets, and an elongation of the jaw. Internal organs may also increase. And cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart) is one of the most common causes of death due to the abuse of growth hormone. Improper use of HGH enhances protein synthesis, which often causes skin problems: it thickens and coarsens. A combination of different side effects, especially cardiomegaly, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia – factors leading to a reduction in life expectancy. Some studies show that side effects from taking HGH are more likely in the elderly than in young people.
If there is not enough growth hormone in the body of an adult, his muscles will never become prominent, as in athletes. But many quite healthy men and women, in pursuit of pumped-up muscles, begin to take HGH courses. But is this substance so effective?
Researchers from the University of California conducted an experiment with the participation of 440 volunteers. The average age of the participants in the experiment is 27 years, 85% of them are men, the average body mass index is 24, and all are physically healthy. During the 20 days of the experiment, 303 people received an injection of HGH, the rest received a placebo. After a course of injections, the muscle mass of the participants in the experiment increased by an average of 2 kg. On the one hand, it looked like a win. But as it turned out, the growth of muscle mass did not lead to an increase in strength and endurance during physical exertion. As a result, the researchers concluded that the muscles of people who took injections were more likely to accumulate fluid in themselves, while the representatives of the control group did not retain excess moisture in the tissues, therefore, muscle mass growth did not occur.
To assess how growth hormone affects the health of the elderly, scientists conducted a series of studies involving 220 people. Two-thirds of the subjects were men, their average age was 69 years, most of the volunteers were overweight, but not obese. The dosage of growth hormone varied for different people, and the duration of therapy in different cases ranged from 2 to 52 weeks. As a result, people who regularly took HGH increased their muscle mass by about 2 kg and lost about the same amount of fat. But such parameters as the amount of sugar and cholesterol in the blood, bone density, aerobic abilities at the end of the experiment practically did not change. However, most of those who took HGH experienced quite a lot of side effects, including fluid retention in tissues, joint pain, and men had slightly enlarged breasts. The results of the experiment forced many to change their opinion about HGH as a panacea for old age.
How to increase the amount of human growth hormone by natural methods
If there are no medical indications for hormone therapy, but for some reason a person wants to increase the amount of growth hormone in his body, you can use safer methods than HGH injections.
Intense physical activity
Multiple studies confirm that intense physical activity contributes to increased secretion of HGH. The best workouts for this purpose: intensive endurance and strength exercises. In addition, the determining factors in the regulation of HGH production are the duration and frequency of training. The minimum duration of the lesson should be from 10 minutes.
Supplements containing L-glutamine are well known to athletes. They are designed to increase the effectiveness of training, maintain the acid-base balance of the body, and also increase the amount of glycogen in the muscles. During the experiment, scientists found that it is enough to take a supplement and perform strength exercises at least three times a week to increase the level of HGH, and at the same time the amount of testosterone and muscle strength.
Studies confirm that with oral use of L-arginine, the level of growth hormone in the body can increase by 100%. If the supplement is combined with training, then this figure can reach 300-500%.
In 2008, the journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published research data that confirmed that taking A-GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) also causes an increase in the level of HGH. The participants of the experiment took 600 mg of A-GPC 2 hours before strength training. After performing the exercises, the amount of hormone in their body exceeded the indicators after training without taking the supplement.
Yes, laughter is the cheapest and most accessible means for increasing growth hormone in the body. This was discovered by Californian scientists. After watching humorous videos, those who took part in the experiment had an average 87% increase in endorphin levels and an approximately 27% increase in the level of HGH.
Do you remember what was discussed at the beginning of this article? After the release of growth hormone, the liver turns it into insulin-like growth factor-1, and it already stimulates an increase in muscle mass, energy and strength. Therefore, if the liver does not work properly, a person will not be able to feel the benefits of growth hormone. Before raising the level of HGH, it is necessary to cleanse the liver of toxins and restore its functionality.
Studies have shown a relationship between vitamin C deficiency and decreased secretion of growth hormone, obesity and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. That is, before looking for options on how to increase the level of HGH in the body, it is advisable to increase the reserves of vitamin C.
Remember Jonathan Swift’s saying: everyone dreams of living long, but no one wants to get old? Therefore, humanity has been trying to find ways to delay aging for all ages. In the modern world, few people believe in “living water”, “rejuvenating apples” and “the elixir of eternal youth”. But many rely on the power of injections of youth, including with the use of growth hormone. However, experts urge not to get carried away with the newfangled trends of hormone therapy, which has many health-threatening consequences. And in order to keep vigor and beauty longer, it is more useful not to forget to drink a lot of clean water, lead a healthy lifestyle, exercise, eat healthy food. This is the main guarantee of longevity and preservation of youth.