In a society that wants to look younger, feel younger, live longer and basically defy the process of aging, it is not surprising that hGH therapy has become such a popular means of achieving these goals. With the ever-increasing popularity of hGH therapy, understandably there has been much debate about its reported benefits, safety and cost. Each of these considerations is discussed below so that you can make an informed decision before embarking on hGH therapy.
What is hGH?
hGH is the medical acronym for human growth hormone, a peptide hormone produced naturally in our bodies by a gland called the pituitary. As an ‘anabolic’ hormone, hGH stimulates tissue growth and regeneration. For example, in children and adolescents hGH increases height and stimulates growth of the body organs including the brain. Other functions of hGH include a role in stimulating the immune system and increased muscle mass and bone strength through stimulation of protein synthesis and bone mineralization. hGH also stimulates production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), another anabolic hormone. Whilst hGH has many other significant roles in the body, it is these anabolic (building) processes that are largely responsible for its popularity as a body building and anti-aging therapy.
What is hGH Therapy?
Once you understand the basics of hGH and its role in health and body composition, it is easy to comprehend the popularity of hGH therapy. Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy (GHRT) refers to the administration of hGH via injections which has been produced synthetically by utilizing recombinant DNA technology. The resulting ‘biosynthetic’ hormone is called somatropin.
It is not possible to source ‘natural’ hGH hormone as although natural hGH was used in early GHRT (the hormone was extracted from cadavers), safety concerns with this form of hGH ended its use in 1985.
Medically approved uses of hGH injections include treatment of conditions that cause short stature in children and for instances of medically diagnosed growth hormone deficiency. Whilst considered rare, growth hormone deficiency in adults is believed to result in increased fat mass, reduced muscle mass, compromised energy levels and a basic reduction in quality of life.
hGH therapy has also become very popular as a ‘lifestyle’ medicine and is often prescribed ‘off-label’ (meaning that although hGH is a drug approved by the FDA, its use in anti-aging medicine and body building has not been studied or subsequently FDA approved). Many physicians will prescribe hGH or an hGH stimulator to patients for a range of conditions believed to benefit from hGH therapy.
Benefits of hGH Therapy
The routine use of hGH in individuals who are not considered to be hGH deficient is the subject of much controversy. The vast number of people who swear by hGH therapy and report the positive impact that it has had on their life is testament to the fact that, for some at least, this is a therapy that works.
Reported benefits of hGH include an increase in muscle mass and decrease in body fat in healthy adults. Users also report a reduction in muscle aches and pains, improved sleep, restored sex drive, better mood and a general feeling of improved well-being.
hGH has also been used by athletes and body builders to boost performance which subsequently led to it becoming an IOC and NCAA banned substance in professional athletes.
Much of the controversy surrounding the use of hGH therapy stems from concerns about its safety. This has led to a new breed of hGH therapy using ‘hGH stimulators’ or human growth hormone releasing hormones. Two such hGH stimulators are the peptides Sermorelin and GHRP-2 and therapy using these peptides is believed to offer the same benefits of hGH therapy, with much less potential for side-effects.
Dangers of hGH
When looking at the dangers associated with hGH, there are a couple of factors that need to be considered. Firstly, safety aside, hGH is a controlled substance. This means that the only legal way of procuring hGH is through a physician who is willing to prescribe it to you.
Of course, as with any pharmaceutical there are illegal ways of obtaining hGH but these will not only put you at risk with the law, you will also be risking your health. If you source the hormone from outside of the US you may get done for importing a controlled substance. Add to this the fact that the quality of illegally procured hGH injections is certainly not guaranteed, and dubious at best. You have no way of knowing what you are injecting yourself with unless you purchase FDA approved hGH with a prescription from a pharmacy within the US.
Then of course, there are the side-effects of hGH to consider. These include relatively minor inconveniences such as joint and muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling of the arms and legs and enlargement of the breast tissue (in men), but also extend to some fairly major potential side-effects such as diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, hGH peptide therapy (using hGH stimulators) still provides the benefits of hGH therapy, without the associated risks.
Advances in hGH Therapy
As discussed, hGH therapy has many attractive benefits on quality of life and performance for those who use it. Unfortunately however, it is not without its risks. Those looking to harness the advantages of hGH whilst mitigating those risks should consider the use of hGH stimulators such as the peptides sermorelin and GHRP-2.
The debate of peptides vs hGH is one that has been growing in steam and for most medical professionals, scientists and consumers, peptides have the competitive advantage, not only in terms of safety but also in cost and accessibility.