HGH – OMG – WTF?
Okay, I just want to take a minute to talk about something that has been on my mind and all over the media as of late… What’s with this “human growth hormone” thing!? I actually think I’m a little behind the craze, but lately, I’ve been seeing the infomercial for the SeroVital HGH Liquid Concentrate which promises a miracle cure for aging. This product promises wrinkle reduction, increased fat burning, improved mood, better sleep, and even a heightened sex drive. I kid you not, every time I turn on the TV, I see this risk free, fountain of youth, miracle supplement flashing in front of my face, and I’ll admit I had the same thought that I’m sure every woman above the age of 25 thinks when they see the ad… “Maybe I’ll try it for 30 days and see if I notice a difference.” Right? But here’s the thing… I’m not sold. There were so many questions running through my mind, just as there are before I try a new supplement of any kind. It got me thinking…
“Is it safe?” “What if taking HGH as a supplement reduces my body’s ability to produce HGH on its own?” “What if it makes me like, super tall or pack on pounds of the non-muscular variety? It is after all, prescribed to treat growth deficiencies associated with genetic and medical conditions.” “Seriously, what’s the difference between HGH and shooting up Testosterone or ‘Roids?” “What if throwing an additional hormone into my body throws off my hormonal balance?”
Okay, before I shelled out unnecessary dollars and put myself at risk, it was necessary to do a little research. Let’s consult Web MD…
Synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) was developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses. In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature of unknown cause as well as poor growth due to a number of medical causes, including:
- Turner’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects a girl’s development
- Prader-Willi syndrome, an uncommon genetic disorder causing poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger
- Chronic kidney insufficiency
- HGH deficiency or insufficiency
- Children born small for gestational age
In adults, approved uses of HGH include:
- Short bowel syndrome, a condition in which nutrients are not properly absorbed due to severe intestinal disease or the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine
- HGH deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or their treatment
- Muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS
But the conditions listed above are not what most people are using it for! That’s not what the infomercial says! The most common uses for HGH are not FDA-approved. (Not that I have buckets of Faith in the FDA anyway, P.S.) But people are using the hormone, in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. (Even though HGH’s effect on athletic performance is unknown) and using it as an attempt to turn back the hands of time. Because the body’s HGH levels naturally decrease with age (25% every decade after the age of 30), some so-called anti-aging experts have speculated and claimed that HGH products could reverse age-related bodily deterioration. But these claims are also unproven. Nevertheless, some people obtain injectable HGH from doctors who prescribe it for off-label purposes and through Internet pharmacies, anti-aging clinics, and web sites.
Others purchase HGH products – or products that claim to increase your body’s own production of HGH – in the form of pills and sprays (Or in this case, a liquid supplement). Companies claim they turn back your body’s biological clock, reducing fat, building muscle, restoring hair growth and color, strengthening the immune system, normalizing blood sugar, increasing energy and improving sex life, sleep quality, vision, and memory. However, the Federal Trade Commission has seen no reliable evidence to support the claim that these products have the same effects as prescription HGH, which is always given by injection. Taken orally, HGH is digested by the stomach before it can be absorbed into the body. So that means there is still the question of how much HGH your body is actually even absorbing! Furthermore, if you get the drug illicitly, you may not know what you are really getting. Because of the high cost, HGH drugs have been counterfeited. If you are not getting HGH from your doctor, you may be getting an unapproved product.
In addition, there was one more thing I read about HGH that was disturbing… Doctors proclaim that HGH can also increase the risk of diabetes and contribute to the growth of cancerous tumors. What!? I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to grow any cancerous tumors any time soon! Guess what else? Too much natural GH causes a condition called acromegaly. This is where a person’s muscles grow, but so do the bones, the face, and the intestines. You’ve probably seen this in some body builders who look like they have a huge beer gut underneath their abs? Of course you have to wonder how much additional HGH causes these side effects, and how much your body will actually absorb, but it still sounds pretty risky to me.
However, I’m still puzzled… I follow tons of fitness related blogs and people are swearing by this stuff! Why? Are the short-term benefits of HGH really worth the associated risks? Or are people just uninformed? So… I researched further…
After reading several articles written by body builders and athletes, I have to say I saw the words “may” and “might” quite often. Anyway, here are the potential benefits that I saw repeatedly:
- HGH promotes and increases the synthesis of new protein tissues, such as in muscle recovery or repair. This is the way new muscle is built. (By the way, so does protein and a good muscle recovery supplement)
- Recent research suggests its involvement in the metabolism of body fat and its conversion to energy sources. Some pros have used GH as a way of maintaining and increasing lean mass while dieting for years. (Again, not the only supplement to reap this reward)
- It improves the sleeping pattern, makes for fewer unintended awakenings and better REM-stage sleep.
- HGH produces more energy
- It “may” improve sexual performance
- It builds stronger bones
- Improves the quality and duration of heart and kidneys
Listen, I’ve been doing this health and fitness thing for A LONG time. I have to be honest, when reading about these benefits, I’m not really sure why you need to take HGH to achieve these results. There are so many natural options. If you want to build muscle and have better muscle recovery, make sure you get enough sleep and are not deficient in any essential vitamin, AND make sure you are ingesting the correct amount of protein broken up into the appropriate amount per each serving. You want to increase the body’s metabolism and conversion of energy sources? Vitamin B, my friend! Your sleep is screwy? Try a small dose of time-release Melatonin or Valerian Root to ease you into a restful slumber. Stronger bones? Calcium anyone? I won’t even get into the sexual performance thing, even though there are natural supplements to help that as well… Trying to stay in a range of appropriate here. 😉
Guess what else? Rather than just consuming a random amount of this stuff and hoping you won’t have any side effects, there are NATURAL ways to increase the body’s own level of HGH.
The first way to stimulate GH release naturally is training. Intense workouts, energy-consuming events, and long periods of physical exhaustion are keys in releasing more. Even the body builders who take HGH agree that this is the most potent kind of GH release, as it’s targeted to meet the demands of the bodybuilder. Yes, you have to work out to gain muscle mass… but hopefully you already knew that!
The second natural way to produce HGH is sleeping. In fact, 75% of your total daily HGH output is produced while sleeping, and most of that is produced in the REM sleep cycle. Haven’t I been telling ya’ll how important a good night’s sleep is? And don’t try cheating and sneaking in some power naps throughout the day either, thinking you’re going to GH up! It’s unlikely that you can induce a deep-enough sleep to start producing GH during your nap. Anyway, I digress… This type of GH is not nearly as potent as the other kinds. It is produced as a response to a need for sleep and energy replenishment for the next day, rather than in response to a need for extra energy. So, what that means is that without the GH produced through proper rest, other sources of GH will not be used as efficiently. Getting at least 8-10 hours of sleep is a sacrifice everyone should consider making if you want to build muscle. So, no more shunning people and calling them names like “lame” and “granny” when they want to go to bed early and get enough sleep! I mean it! I have a social life, I swear… LOL!
But it’s not just important to get enough sleep… It is equally important to get regular sleep. A regular sleeping pattern could promote more REM cycles and result in more GH output. So keep it steady. If you stay out late on weekends, it may be best to still wake up at the same time instead of sleeping in. Otherwise you may disturb your sleeping pattern. Just make sure you make up for this missed sleep with a few naps, or you may be doing more harm than good… Get it? Good.
There is one last method to optimizing your body’s production of HGH. NUTRITION! More specifically, Amino Acids. You should be supplementing or taking a look at your protein label to make sure you are getting all of the amino acids that can help you produce more GH. It is rare that any amino acid will not benefit your muscle recovery in some way shape or form, but in this particular instance, I’ll list the supplements in order of their importance for GH production, not the order of their importance to overall health.
- Arginine (5-8 g) or arginine Pyroglutamate are prime movers in the production of natural GH.
- Ornithine (4-7 g) works synergistically with arginine, from which it is derived. Together they have the best impact.
- Glutamine (5 g) or glutamine peptides preserve the use of arginine in depleted circumstances.
- Glycine (3-10 g)
- OKG (3 g) is very expensive, but useful
- BCAAs (3-6 g) for muscle-building properties, enhanced by GH.
- GABA and lysine in trace amounts, but since they may inhibit the other aminos it would be best to take these at different times.
Other dietary sources of nutrients to promote GH are Vitamin C, Vitamin B3, and most antioxidants.
The hard truth is that the GH we are talking about here is not very effective, nor very cheap, but it pays off as a recovery supplement, if you for some crazy reason don’t want to supplement the natural way. HGH is necessary in training and recuperation, and knowing how to help the body release more HGH may be one of the most important steps you can make toward your fitness goals, and it can even help to minimize a few of those fine lines you’re starting to notice around your eyes. (Okay, maybe that’s just me) The bottom line is that you should speak with your doctor before considering any form of HGH. You only get one body and it’s important to know all the facts before you start tampering with it – Especially when the form of tampering still has so many unproven facts. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll stick to the basics – hard work, a healthy diet, healthy sleep patterns, and okay, maybe a little under eye cream just to be safe.