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Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Growth hormone (GH) is your body's primary growth moderating substance. GH is responsible for growth during childhood, as well as for the maintenance of organs and tissues throughout your entire life. A natural and substantial decline in GH production occurs during middle age. Recent research has given rise to significant interest in the area of human growth hormone (HGH), a man-made synthetic version of GH. This equally potent exogenous resource has been clinically proven to restore vigor, vitality and youthfulness in GH deficient patients, and also to enhance these qualities in otherwise healthy adult populations.

How GH Works

Cells called somatotrophs located in the anterior pituitary gland, routinely synthesize and secrete a protein hormone comprised of over 200 different amino acids, known as Growth Hormone. GH possesses both direct and indirect effects.

Direct effects are the result of GH binding its receptor onto target cells. Here's an example, fat cells also known as adipocytes, are naturally stimulated by the GH receptors which breakdown triglycerides, thereby suppressing their ability to accumulate and absorb lipids that circulate throughout the bloodstream. In this very direct way, fat storage becomes minimized within the body.

GH's Indirect effects are mediated by insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), a hormone secreted by the liver and other tissues in response to GH. GH's growth promoting effects, at least the majority of them, are due to IGF-I acting on its target cells. Thus growth, in part, is the indirect result of the interaction between GH an IGF-I.

The above 'effects' result in two very specific 'roles', 1) growth regulation throughout the body, and 2) the critical mediation of metabolic processes such as: general fat oxidation; the synthesis of proteins; the breaking down of triglycerides and; carbohydrate moderation with regard to blood and peripheral glucose factors.

The Growth Hormone Deficiency Syndrome

As expressed earlier, GH declines naturally with age, but most of what's known about it comes from the study of acquired growth hormone deficiency. This condition results from the destruction of normal pituitary and/or hypothalamic tissue, which is primarily caused by a tumor, and secondarily by surgical and/or radiation therapy side effects. Diagnostic criteria and clinical sequelae of GH deficiency, although well established in children, have recently become areas of active investigation in the adults as well. Acquired GH deficiency is associated with significant changes in body composition, bone density, lipid metabolism, cardiovascular function, and physical performance. These symptoms are inherent to age-related decline as well, and HGH replacement therapy is a safe and effective method of treatment for both conditions.

HGH Replacement Therapy

Although a novel therapeutic option for adults until recently, human growth hormone therapy is now a very popular hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Recent studies indicate that many of the psychological and metabolic abnormalities associated with GH deficiency can be reversed with GH replacement, even at low doses.

Body Composition

GH therapy results in profound body composition changes, including both increased lean body mass and reduced fat mass. Relatively low doses (0.003 mg/kg) of GH have been shown to normalize lean body mass over a six month period in adults with GH deficiency (Salomon F, Cuneo RC, Hesp R et al). Associated with increased protein synthesis, muscle mass and function, the improvements in lean body mass are considered permanent. Total body fat mass also decreases after six months of GH administration, with the most significant losses appearing in the visceral (between and surrounding organs) and trunk locations as compared to the legs, arms and neck. This suggests that GH replacement therapy reverses the truncal redistribution of fat mass associated with GH deficiency and its impact on cardiovascular risk.

Bone Density

The potential role of GH effects and skeletal system maintenance has recently been investigated. GH is known to stimulate osteoblast (bone forming cell) proliferation. GH also stimulates the systemic and local production of Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-I), another known bone mitogen (a substance that induces mitosis). One recent GH replacement study demonstrated its ability to significantly increase bone Gla-protein, a sensitive indicator of osteoblast function, and consistent positive changes in bone density have been shown with GH administration (Amato G, Carella C, Fazio S et al).

Lipid Metabolism

GH replacement also seems to have a beneficial effect on lipids. Johnston's recent study results found that short courses of GH reduced LDL cholesterol, a reduction that correlated with increased mRNA expression of the LDL receptor in the liver (Johnston DG, Bengtsson BA). In other words, it effectively reduced unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Function

Several GH studies have demonstrated improvements in exercise capacity and cardiac function among GH-deficient patients. These patients showed increased oxygen uptake and power output during cycle ergometry (the study of physical work activity, including that performed by specific muscles or muscle groups), which is most often associated with increased skeletal muscle mass and improved cardiac function. Echocardiograph results showed that GH therapy improved left ventricular mass index, fractional shortening and fiber shortening velocity all after only six months of low dose treatments (Amato G, Carella C, Fazio S et al).

Side Effects of HGH

The use of HGH under medical supervision (HGH replacement therapy) for HGH deficiency is safe with few notable side effects, although higher dosages do increase side effect risks.

There should be no side effects if done correctly by your physician.

Here are some of the possible side effects of HGH usage in high dosages:

  • Acromegaly
  • Liver damage
  • Thyroid damage
  • Heart enlargement
  • Low blood sugar with risk of going into a diabetic coma
  • Excessive body hair growth
  • Water retention

The most common side effect of the excessive HGH use is acromegaly - a medical condition that starts with an overgrowth of facial bone and connective tissue, leading to a change in physical appearance that includes protruding jaw and eyebrow bones. Acromegaly also leads to abnormal growth of the hands and feet, along with an increased growth of body hair. Bottom line is these side effects are caused by excessive doseage and the use of HGH therapy has been in practice for over 40 years in dwarfism and children without any of these side effects.

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