Human Growth Hormone (HGH or hGH) is truly an amazing substance that has been shown to have numerous, clinically proven benefits. HGH is very important to just about every aspect of life. In early life, HGH is essential for bone and organ growth. However, HGH also is important in tissue repair, healing, muscle growth, brain function, bone strength, energy, endurance and metabolism. What is surprising is that as important as HGH is to our body, levels of HGH begin to decline sometime after age 20. Research has shown that the rate of decline averages about 14 percent per decade. This means that by age 40, production can be down to as much as half of youthful levels.
By the age of sixty, HGH levels are reduced from adolescent levels by 75 percent. These falling levels of HGH are believed to contribute to the aging process. A great deal of study has been done trying to understand why HGH levels decline so quickly and what would happen if HGH levels stayed constant.
Hormones are tiny chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks or stimulate certain activities. Hormones are made up of amino acids. HGH is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland in the center of the brain. HGH is the most abundant hormone the pituitary gland produces and also the most complex. HGH is made up of 191 amino acids. Research has shown that after the age of 20, the pituitary gland releases HGH in a pulse-like fashion. Deep sleep is the most constant mechanism for HGH release. Exercise is the other.
Recombinant Growth Hormone is GH that is synthesized in the lab. It is a biosynthetic hormone that is identical to HGH. Eli Lilly, in 1986 created a 191 amino acid hormone that was an identical match to the HGH produced by the pituitary gland. The drug is called Humatrope and it is the most widely used recombinant GH today. Humatrope is a prescription drug that is only available in injection form. There is no oral form of HGH.
As important as HGH is, it does not last long in our bloodstream. In just a few minutes, our liver absorbs HGH and converts it into growth factors. IGF-1 is the most important growth factor that is produced. The way we test HGH levels today is by measuring the IGF-1 level since it stays in the bloodstream longer and actually does most of the work.
Over the last 10 years, we have learned a great deal about HGH and IGF-1. We can now conclude that giving patients HGH produces excellent results. There is also no evidence that modulation of HGH affects the risk of cancer. And finally, there is no evidence that administering HGH causes any adverse effect on the pituitary gland.
The problem is that the good news about HGH has created a variety of companies trying to market different products that can deliver HGH to consumers attempting to find the “fountain of youth.” Here is the truth: There is no supplement that actually contains HGH. The prescription HGH is available only by injection and is very expensive.
There are some products that claim to increase HGH production. These are called HGH enhancers and almost always contain the amino acids arginine, glutamine and lysine. Some evidence does suggest that individuals who supplemented these amino acids have increased levels of IGF-1 when retested. The best results, however, were found in individuals who got adequate levels of sleep and performed resistance exercise training at least three times a week.
Exercise-induced hormone response is a proven fact and until we learn how to stabilize this delicate 191 amino acid hormone into an oral form or learn exactly what inhibits pituitary production of HGH, exercise remains the best enhancer we have. The HGH story is a work in progress. There is little doubt we will have the answers we need soon. A great deal of what is out there today will then look very foolish.