HGH, or human growth hormone, is a substance that is produced by the pituitary gland and fuels childhood growth, as well as maintaining the health of tissues and organs throughout one’s life. Over time, the amount of HGH that the pituitary gland produces decreases; this typically occurs around middle age. HGH is widely available but when should it be taken?
Types of HGH supplements
There are two types of HGH supplements—injections of synthetic HGH and supplements that claim to boost the production rate of HGH by the pituitary glands. Out of the two, only synthetic HGH injections have been proven effective. The HGH supplements may work in different ways, but none have been shown to have noticeable effects. The homeopathic variety has never been shown to be effective in a scientific setting.
Adults who have actual growth hormone deficiency are often prescribed synthetic HGH. Taken in injection form, these individuals may experience an increase in bone density, muscle mass, and exercise capacity as well as a decrease in body fat. This condition is rare in adults, however.
HGH may also be used to treat those experience muscle wasting due to HIV or AIDS, as well as adults with short bowel syndrome.
Due to the rarity of growth hormone deficiency, the majority of individuals interested in HGH supplements are healthy adults, many of whom are looking to regain lost youth. HGH has also become popular in the bodybuilding and general athletic community due to its ability to increase muscle mass.
The claims that HGH works to reverse aging traces back to a 1990 study where 12 men over 60 were given HGH and subsequently experienced a modest amount of muscle mass and bone density increase and decreased body fat. Enterprising individuals jumped on these effects as evidence of “anti-aging” properties and it has been advertised that way ever since. However, this misconstrues the nature of the findings. The author of the study, Dr. Daniel Rudman, adamantly proclaimed that the results of the study did not show that HGH had implications as an anti-aging substance. He stood by the opinion until his death. Other members of the scientific community have also denounced these types of claims.
There are a myriad of risks involved with taking HGH (in this section, we are talking about the risks associated with the synthetic form that has been proven effective. The other types of HGH supplements have their dangers as well.). While these risks may be acceptable to those who suffer from growth hormone deficiency, those who are interested in HGH for other reasons should perhaps think twice before taking it.
- Using hormones can lead to joint problems, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
- HGH can cause swelling the limbs and gynecomastia (male breast enlargemet)
- Some body parts, such as the nose and jaw, never stop growing. Therefore, taking HGH can cause these parts to grow even more, resulting in disfigurement.
- HGH use can cause the heart to grow in size.
- HGH is not approved for adult use in anything but HIV and AIDS-related muscle-wasting, short bowel syndrome, and HGH deficiency.
- Long-term effects of HGH usage by healthy adults is largely unknown.
- While HGH does have beneficial effects, understand that it is not a magic pill. It will not produce astounding results in most cases. In fact, though HGH may increase muscle mass, whether or not it increases strength or actual athletic performance is still unknown.
When should you take HGH? Honestly, unless you have one of the three legitimate medical conditions that can be treated with HGH, you probably should not take it at all. Instead, speak to your doctor and ask about lifestyle changes that you can make in order to age more gracefully.
Mayoclinic.org (2014) Human growth hormone (HGH): Does it slow aging? Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/healthy-aging/in-depth/growth-hormone/art-20045735?pg=1.
Sinicki, Adam. Do HGH Supplements Work? Available from: http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/16306/1/Do-HGH-Supplements-Work.html.
Wanjek, Christopher (2014) ‘Anti-Aging’ Hormone May Actually Shorten Life. Available from: http://www.livescience.com/44436-anti-aging-hormone-may-actually-shorten-life.html.