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What is Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) 

Some people turn to a substance called human growth hormone (HGH) in hopes that it will keep them feeling and looking youthful. But experts say that hope is unfounded. And worse, these products can be harmful.

HGH, produced by the pituitary gland, spurs growth in children and adolescents. It also helps to regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function. Produced synthetically, HGH is the active ingredient in a number of prescription drugs and in other products available widely over the Internet.

HGH Uses and Abuses

Synthetic human growth hormone was developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses in children and adults. In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature of unknown cause as well as poor growth due to a number of medical causes, including:

  • Turner's syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects a girl's development
  • Prader-Willi syndrome, an uncommon genetic disorder causing poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger.
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • HGH deficiency or insufficiency
  • Children born small for gestational age

In adults, approved uses of HGH include:

  • Short bowel syndrome, a condition in which nutrients are not properly absorbed due to severe intestinal disease or the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine
  • HGH deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or their treatment
  • Muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS

But the most common uses for HGH are not FDA-approved. Some people use the hormone, along with other performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. Yet HGH's effect on athletic performance is unknown.

Because the body's HGH levels naturally decrease with age, some so-called anti-aging experts have speculated and claimed that HGH products could reverse the age-related bodily deterioration. But these claims, too, are unproven. The use of HGH for anti-aging is not FDA-approved.

Nevertheless, some people obtain injectable HGH from doctors who prescribe it for off-label purposes (uses for which it was not approved by the FDA) and through Internet pharmacies, anti-aging clinics, and web sites.

Others purchase HGH products -- or products that claim to increase your body's own production of HGH -- in the form of pills and sprays. Companies that market these products on TV infomercials or online claim they turn back your body's biological clock, reducing fat, building muscle, restoring hair growth and color, strengthening the immune system, normalizing blood sugar, increasing energy and improving sex life, sleep quality, vision, and memory. However, the Federal Trade Commission has seen no reliable evidence to support the claim that these products have the same effects as prescription HGH, which is always given by injection. Taken orally, HGH is digested by the stomach before it can be absorbed into the body.

HGH Side Effects and Other Hazards

Possible side effects of HGH use include:

  • Nerve, muscle, or joint pain
  • Swelling due to fluid in the body's tissues (edema)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Numbness and tingling of the skin
  • High cholesterol levels
  • HGH can also increase the risk of diabetes and contribute to the growth of cancerous tumors.

Furthermore, if you get the drug illicitly, you may not know what you are really getting. Because of the high cost, HGH drugs have been counterfeited. If you are not getting HGH from your doctor, you may be getting an unapproved product.

[ You should speak with your doctor before considering any form of HGH. ]


Human growth hormone (HGH): Does it slow aging?

The human growth hormone is described by some as the key to slowing the aging process. Get the facts about these claims.

The growth hormone fuels childhood growth and helps maintain tissues and organs throughout life. It's produced by the pea-sized pituitary gland — located at the base of the brain. Beginning in middle age, however, the pituitary gland slowly reduces the amount of growth hormone it produces.

This natural slowdown has triggered an interest in using synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) as a way to stave off some of the changes linked to aging, such as decreased muscle and bone mass.

If you're skeptical, good. There's little evidence to suggest HGH can help otherwise healthy adults regain youth and vitality. Alternatively, HGH treatments may increase the risk of other medical conditions. Experts recommend using HGH to treat aging or age-related conditions

11 Ways to Boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Naturally.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is an important hormone produced by your pituitary gland. Also known as growth hormone (GH), it plays a key role in growth, body composition, cell repair, and metabolism. HGH also boosts muscle growth, strength, and exercise performance, while helping you recover from injury and disease. Low HGH levels may decrease your quality of life, increase your risk of disease, and make you gain fat. Optimal levels are especially important during weight loss, injury recovery, and athletic training.
Interestingly, your diet and lifestyle choices can significantly affect your HGH levels.

Here are 11 evidence-based ways to increase human growth hormone (HGH) levels naturally.

1. Lose body fat.

  • The amount of belly fat you carry is directly related to your HGH production. Those with higher levels of belly fat will likely have impaired HGH production and an increased risk of disease.
  • One study observed that those with three times the amount of belly fat as the control group had less than half their amount of HGH.
  • Another study monitored the 24-hour release of HGH and found a large decline in those with more abdominal fat.
  • Interestingly, research suggests that excess body fat affects HGH levels more in men. However, lowering body fat is still key for both genders.

What’s more, a study found that people with obesity had lower levels of HGH and IGF-1 — a growth-related protein. After losing a significant amount of weight, their levels returned to normal.

Belly fat is the most dangerous type of stored fat and linked to many diseases. Losing belly fat will help optimize your HGH levels and other aspects of your health.

2. Fast intermittently.

  • Studies show that fasting leads to a major increase in HGH levels.
  • One study found that 3 days into a fast, HGH levels increased by over 300%. After 1 week of fasting, they had increased by a massive 1,250%.
  • Other studies have found similar effects, with double or triple HGH levels after just 2–3 days of fasting.
  • However, continuous fasting is not sustainable in the long term. Intermittent fasting is a more popular dietary approach that limits eating to brief time periods.
  • Multiple methods of intermittent fasting are available. One common approach is a daily 8-hour eating window with a 16-hour fast. Another involves eating only 500–600 calories 2 days per week.
  • Intermittent fasting can help optimize HGH levels in two main ways. First, it can help you drop body fat, which directly affects HGH production.
  • Second, it'll keep your insulin levels low for most of the day, as insulin is released when you eat. Research suggests that insulin spikes can disrupt your natural growth hormone production.
  • One study observed large differences in HGH levels on the fasting day compared with the eating day.
  • Shorter 12–16-hour fasts likely help as well, though more research is needed to compare their effects with full-day fasts.

3. Try an arginine supplement.

  • When taken alone, arginine may boost HGH.
  • Though most people tend to use amino acids like arginine alongside exercise, several studies show little or no increase in HGH levels.
  • However, studies have observed that taking arginine on its own — without any exercise —significantly increases levels of this hormone.
  • Other non-exercise studies also support the use of arginine to boost HGH.
  • One study examined the effects of taking either 45 or 114 mg of arginine per pound (100 or 250 mg per kg) of body weight, or around 6–10 or 15–20 grams per day, respectively.
  • It found no effect for the lower dose, but participants taking the higher dose experienced around a 60% increase in HGH levels during sleep.

4. Reduce your sugar intake.

  • An increase in insulin is associated with lower HGH levels.
  • Refined carbs and sugar raise insulin levels the most, so reducing your intake may help optimize growth hormone levels.
  • One study found that healthy people had 3–4 times higher HGH levels than those with diabetes, as well as impaired carb tolerance and insulin function.
  • Along with directly affecting insulin levels, excess sugar intake is a key factor in weight gain and obesity, which also affect HGH levels.
  • That said, the occasional sweet treat will not impact your HGH levels in the long term.
  • Aim to achieve a balanced diet, as what you eat has a profound effect on your health, hormones, and body composition.

5. Don't eat a lot before bedtime.

  • Your body naturally releases significant amounts of HGH, especially at night.
  • Given that most meals cause a rise in insulin levels, some experts suggest avoiding food before bedtime.
  • In particular, a high-carb or high-protein meal may spike your insulin and potentially block some of the HGH released at night.
  • Keep in mind that insufficient research exists on this theory.
  • Our free assessment ranks the best diets for you based on your answers to 3 quick questions.
  • Nevertheless, insulin levels normally decrease 2–3 hours after eating, so you may wish to avoid carb- or protein-based meals 2–3 hours before bedtime.

6. Take a GABA supplement.

  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a non-protein amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter, sending signals around your brain.
  • As a well-known calming agent for your brain and central nervous system, it's often used to aid sleep. Interestingly, it may also help increase your HGH levels.
  • One study found that taking a GABA supplement led to a 400% increase in HGH at rest and a 200% increase following exercise.
  • GABA may also increase HGH levels by improving your sleep since your nighttime growth hormone release is linked to sleep quality and depth.
  • However, most of these increases were short-lived and GABA's long-term benefits for growth hormone levels remain unclear.

7. Exercise at a high intensity.

  • Exercise is one of the most effective ways to significantly raise your HGH levels.
  • The increase depends on the type of exercise, intensity, food intake around the workout, and your body’s own traits.
  • High-intensity exercise increases HGH the most, but all forms of exercise are beneficial.
  • You can perform repeated sprints, interval training, weight training, or circuit training to spike your HGH levels and maximize fat loss.
  • As with supplements, exercise mainly causes short-term spikes in HGH levels.
  • Nevertheless, over the long term, exercise may optimize your hormone function and decrease body fat, both of which will benefit your HGH levels.

8. Take beta-alanine and/or a sports drink around your workouts.

  • Some sports supplements can optimize performance and temporarily boost your HGH levels.
  • In one study, taking 4.8 grams of beta-alanine before a workout increased the number of repetitions performed by 22%.
  • It also doubled peak power and boosted HGH levels compared with the non-supplement group.
  • Another study demonstrated that a sugary sports drink increased HGH levels toward the end of a workout. However, if you’re trying to lose fat, the drink’s extra calories will negate any benefit from the short-term HGH spike.
  • Studies have shown that protein shakes —both with and without carbs — can boost HGH levels around workouts.
  • However, if a casein or whey protein supplement is taken immediately before strength exercise, it may have the opposite effect.
  • One study found that drinking a beverage containing 25 grams (0.9 ounces) of casein or whey protein 30 minutes before strength exercise reduced levels of human growth hormone and testosterone, compared with a non-caloric placebo.

9. Optimize your sleep.

  • The majority of HGH is released in pulses when you sleep. These pulses are based on your body's internal clock or circadian rhythm.
  • The largest pulses occur before midnight, with some smaller pulses in the early morning.
  • Studies have shown that poor sleep can reduce the amount of HGH your body produces.
  • In fact, getting an adequate amount of deep sleep is one of the best strategies to enhance your long-term HGH production.

Here are a few simple strategies to help optimize your sleep:

  • Avoid blue light exposure before bedtime.
  • Read a book in the evening.
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature.
  • Don't consume caffeine late in the day.

10. Take a melatonin supplement.

  • Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in sleep and blood pressure regulation.
  • Melatonin supplements have become a popular sleep aid that can increase the quality and duration of your sleep.
  • While good sleep alone may benefit HGH levels, further research has shown that a melatonin supplement can directly enhance HGH production.
  • Melatonin is also fairly safe and non-toxic. However, it may alter your brain chemistry in some ways, so you may want to check with your healthcare provider before using it.
  • To maximize its effects, take 1–5 mg about 30 minutes before bed. Start with a lower dose to assess your tolerance, then increase if needed.

11. Try these other natural supplements.

Several other supplements may enhance human growth hormone production, including:

  • Glutamine. A 2-gram dose may temporarily increase levels up to 78%.
  • Creatine. A 20-gram dose of creatine significantly increased HGH levels for 2–6 hours.
  • Ornithine. One study gave participants ornithine 30 minutes after exercise and found a greater peak in HGH levels.
  • L-dopa. In patients with Parkinson's disease, 500 mg of L-dopa increased HGH levels for up to 2 hours.
  • Glycine. Studies have found glycine can improve gym performance and provide short-term spikes in HGH.
  • While these supplements may increase your HGH levels, studies indicate that their effects are only temporary.

The bottom line

  • As with other key hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, having healthy levels of growth hormone is important.
  • HGH helps your body with metabolism, cell repair, and other vital functions.

[ By following the tips above, you can increase your HGH levels fairly easily. ]