Human Growth Hormone: The Fountain of Youth?
Chester J. Zelasko, Ph.D. | July 9, 2002

Better Life Unlimited has been deluged with questions about human growth hormone (HGH) recently. Besides wanting to know what it is, people want to know where they can get it. The questions all revolve around products on the market that say that they contain HGH or stimulate your body to produce HGH. What's fact and what's fiction?

HGH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps the organs and systems of the body grow and operate at optimal levels. As you might expect, the levels in children are much higher than in adults as children grow at a fast rate. HGH levels decline with age and as levels decline, symptoms of aging appear: increased body fat, decreased muscle mass, loss of hair, graying of hair, wrinkles and thinning of skin, loss of libido and so on. It's understandable why HGH attract so much interest. Everyone wants to look better and feel younger.

HGH is only available by prescription. Its FDA approved use is limited and includes children who are not growing normally. However, HGH has been used in clinical trials with adult subjects with remarkable results. The effects of aging seem to reverse themselves with decreases in body fat, increases in muscle mass, and increased energy levels among the many effects. The problem is cost which can run between $1,000-2,000 per month plus the cost of medical supervision.

Because of this expense, research has focused on the development of secretagogues, substances that will stimulate the body to produce HGH naturally. In effect, this is akin to the search for the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth. No matter what the hype you may read on 1000s of websites, it hasn't been discovered yet. Most of these products contain a combination of amino acids that research has shown may stimulate the production of HGH. How? By providing high quantities of the amino acids that are used in the production of HGH. Slight problem with this approach: research has shown that secretagogues stop working after several weeks. That hasn't stopped the emails, websites, and infomercials from selling these types of products. While they probably won't hurt you, it may not be the best use of your supplement spending.

Is there anything you can do to produce HGH naturally? The solution may be found in two old standby's: losing weight and exercising more. Because the decline in HGH production is greater in persons who are overweight and insulin resistant, research shows that HGH increases when people exercise and lose weight. The question is whether there is a better way to manipulate diet and exercise to achieve a sustained increase in HGH. Recent research may provide some clues.

Intense exercise seems to stimulate the production of HGH even more than aerobic exercise (1). The problem is that most people aren't fit enough to perform intense exercise so building a fitness base is important. Grehlin is a hormone produced in the digestive system which stimulates the production of HGH. In a pilot study, fasting stimulated the production of grehlin in non-obese men (2). Fasting seems to contradict the grazing approach currently recommended for how North Americans should eat. Finally, longer and deeper sleep also seems to increase the production of HGH. The question is how to combine these things effectively to see if they will work. At Better Life Unlimited, we'll continue to examine the research to see if we find that combination.

References:

  1. Weltman A, et al. Body composition, physical exercise, growth hormone and obesity. Eat Weight Disord. 2001. 3 (Suppl):28-37.
  2. Muller AF, et al. Ghrelin drives GH secretion during fasting in man. Eur J Endocrinol. 2002. 146(2):203-7.
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