Human Growth Hormone (HGH) – The “Master Hormone”
Human Growth Hormone (also known as somatropin) obtained its name from being an essential hormone for children to grow. This was the earliest-discovered role of HGH; however, we now refer to HGH as the Master Hormone.
The most abundant hormone produced by the pituitary gland, HGH is produced in waves throughout the day. These levels are determined primarily by your circadian rhythm, with peaks occurring during stages 3 and 4 of sleep.
Every organ in the body depends on HGH for proper growth and development. By releasing more insulin, HGH is able to help move sugar throughout your body to assist in the growth of soft tissues. It’s ability to repair and restore (even reverse damage) and facilitate re-growth of failing organs is something no other hormone can do.
- Increases anabolic activity
- Increases lean body mass
- Regulates metabolism
- Regulates proteins, electrolytes and carbohydrates
- Determines how the body uses fat
GHRH (Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone) and somatostatin are produced in the hypothalamus to regulate HGH levels through a feedback loop.
Somatostatin inhibits HGH production.
GHRH stimulates HGH production.
The third hormone, ghrelin, are produced in gastrointestinal cells and work in cooperation with GHRH to stimulate HGH production.
IFG-1 Muscle Building
The muscle building actions of the growth hormone don’t directly come from the growth hormone itself. They are rather determined by the release (from the liver) of a more potent active form, called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
HGH also produces binding proteins that carry IGF-1 and act as hormones in their own right.
Measuring HGH Levels
The pituitary gland secretes HGH in brief spurts, then dissipates from the blood very quickly, making direct measurement impossible. IGF-1 levels do not fluctuate as rapidly, making a perfect surrogate marker for HGH levels.
Effect On Lifespan
It’s not certain whether levels of HGH or IGF-1 similar to those of a 25-34 year old will extend a person’s lifespan. However, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported in 1997 that healthy 100+ year old individuals have high serum IGF-1 concentrations.
HGH and IGF-1 levels drop by nearly 50% after age 40 and start declining around age 25. This drop in hormone production is referred to as somatopause, similar to menopause or andropause. Every hormone will have a ‘pause’, or rapid drop in production.
The opportunities for HGH secretion decreases primarily because older individuals experience less deep sleep. Sleep medication and other forms of sleeping aids do not increase the length of deep sleep cycles which are essential for HGH secretion.
Outside Causes of HGH Imbalance:
- Chronic stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Other hormone imbalances
- Extreme changes in diet
Signs and Symptoms of an HGH Imbalance:
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Decreased immune functioning
- Slow wound healing
- Increased LDL cholesterol
- Increased body fat
Excess of the human growth hormone causes a condition called acromegaly. Acromegaly increases soft tissue and joint pain.
HGH Therapy Does Not Increase Cancer Risk
In 1999, The New England Journal of Medicine stated, “There is no evidence that HGH replacement therapy affects the risk of cancer on cardiovascular disease. However, extremely higher-than-normal HGH levels, in correlation with low levels of another protein (IGF-1 or BP-3), could play a role in cancer risk according to the Lancet [April 2004].
Unusually high levels of HGH is also correlated with increased production of inflammatory agents such as leukotrienes and cytokines. This will cause silent inflammation, which is the cause of many age related illnesses. Replacement therapy should always be used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes to prevent silent inflammation.
Human Growth Hormone replacement therapy has been proven to increase bone density by up to 6% over three years. However, HGH Therapy should only be implemented after first addressing proper nutrition, exercise, stress management and replacement of other hormones.
HGH is naturally a large molecule and cannot be taken orally or absorbed through the skin. The only effective administration of HGH is through injection.
It’s most common for replacement therapy to decrease insulin resistance, however there can be an increase to insulin resistance in some individuals. This can be avoided by decreasing the amount of HGH that is administered or by following a balanced (mediterranean suggested) diet.
Natural Ways to Increase HGH Levels:
- Mediterranean diet
- Regular exercise
- Weight training
- Stress management
- Correct other hormone imbalances (DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone).
- Omega-3 (fish oil) supplements
Side Effects of HGH Therapy:
- Visual changes
- Intracranial hypertension
- Swelling of hand and ankles (fluid retention)
Where does the HGH come from?
Today, HGH is manufactured through a recombinant DNA technique (similar to how we now manufacture human insulin). There is zero risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (Mad Cow) disease from this current development.
*Mad Cow disease used to be a concern because HGH was manufactured from human pituitary glands. However, this is no longer the way we harvest HGH.
Monitoring HGH Levels
IGF-1 is monitored 4-8 weeks after your initial replacement therapy and re repeated every 2-6 months after.
PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels are measured every 6 months in men. PSA levels can indicate early signs of prostate cancer. Other hormone levels are also monitored.
Physical exam is performed for side effects after 4-8 weeks of starting HGH treatment (this is repeated every 2-6 months thereafter).
- Baseline blood testing
- Colonoscopy every 3 years (over age 50)
- Women are required to have annual pap smears and mammograms
Those who read about HGH also read:10 All-Natural Ways To Increase Your HGH Levels