Some believe that human growth hormone can slow down the aging process. Keep reading to find out the truth about these claims.
Growth hormone (GH, or HGH) is a hormone that stimulates growth in children and helps to maintain organs and tissues all during life. HGH is vital for normal growth as a child, and our bodies produce large amounts of growth hormone during childhood and adolescence.
Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, which is located at the brain’s base and is approximately the size of a pea. This small gland makes hormones to regulate key body functions, such as reproduction and growth.
The pituitary gland gradually reduces its production of growth hormone starting in middle age. As a result, synthetic human growth hormone (somatropin), has been suggested as a possible treatment for some of the natural changes due to aging, such as bone loss and decreased muscle mass.
Many people believe that HGH injections can be used to help aging adults regain their youth and vitality. However, these treatments can lead to negative side effects and may actually increase the likelihood of developing certain medical conditions.
The medical community generally advises against using GH injections to treat the symptoms of aging or age-related conditions.
What Adults Need HGH treatments?
HGH is important for all ages, even though we produce less as adults. HGH plays an important role in maintaining our body’s composition, including how much muscle and fat mass we have.
Additionally, growth hormone is also known to help maintain bone density and improve metabolism, and may also play a role maintaining cognitive abilities, according to research.
Synthetic HGH injections might be prescribed by a physician to adults who suffer from a growth hormone deficiency. However, this only applies to deficiencies that are not due to the normal decline of GH associated with aging.
A growth hormone deficiency can be caused by a benign pituitary tumor, called a pituitary adenoma, or by radiotherapy or surgery used in the treatment of an adenoma.
Injections of synthetic GH are available for adults with a growth hormone deficiency. These injections can provide results such as:
- Increased muscle mass
- Improved bone health and density
- Reduced body fat
- Increased exercise performance
Growth hormone treatments are also approved for adults suffering from AIDS or HIV-related GH deficiency, which causes an abnormal distribution of body fat.
What Effects Do GH Treatment Have on Older Adults?
Research involving healthy adults receiving growth hormone have been inconsistent and limited. While HGH can increase muscle mass and decrease body fat in otherwise healthy older adults, this improvement in muscle mass does not appear to lead to an increase in strength.
It’s not clear whether human growth hormone treatments have other benefits for healthy adults.
What Are the Risks and Side Effects Associated With GH treatments?
Treatments with HGH injections can lead to several possible side effects that could be harmful to healthy people, including:
- Edema (swelling of the legs and arms).
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Insulin resistance has increased
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men).
- Muscle and joint pain
- Greater risk for certain types of cancer
Clinical research involving GH treatments given to healthy older adults have so far been relatively short-term and smaller in scope, so we don’t know much about the long-term effects of growth hormone injections.
Is HGH Available As Pills?
In the US, HGH injections have only been approved for growth hormone deficiency and other related issues involving HIV infection. Human growth hormone is only effective when administered by injection.
HGH is not available in pill form because it is not orally viable. However, some supplements claim to increase levels of human growth hormone.
Growth hormone supplements work not by introducing HGH into the body, but by increasing the body’s own natural production of HGH. These supplements are considered safe and are generally free from side effects.
HGH injections, on the other hand, are labeled as a controlled substance by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The use of HGH in an unapproved manner is illegal, whether for body building, anti-aging treatments, or performance enhancement.
Ask your doctor about proven ways to improve your overall health if you have concerns about your age. Healthy lifestyle choices, like adopting a healthy diet and engaging in some form of daily exercise, can help you look and feel great as you age.
Nutrition expert. Blog writer. Health enthusiast.