In the continuing search for the elusive substance from the “fountain of youth”, man has turned to HGH in hopes of reversing the hands of time. Some use it to enhance their athletic performance by building stronger and more toned muscles while others use it to treat a variety of health conditions especially among children. Unfortunately, its use – both medical and non-medical – has led to a rift in the healthcare community. This underscores the need for a much deeper understanding on what HGH really is, what its uses are, and what its potential side effects are, if any.
An Overview of HGH
HGH stands for Human Growth Hormone and is an endocrine substance that is produced by the pituitary gland. It is involved in a number of physiologic processes related to growth and maturation or development of tissues in organs of the body that contain mitogenic cells. Specifically, HGH helps stimulate cell reproduction, growth, and regeneration.
Human Growth Hormone also works to increase the levels of glucose as well as free fatty acids in an effort to provide fuel for the cells needed for reproduction, growth, repair, and regeneration.
It is also helpful in stimulating the synthesis of Insulin-like Growth Factor or IGF-1. This growth factor also has growth-promoting capabilities especially on cells of the skeletal muscles, blood cells, cartilage, bone, lungs, nerves, liver, kidneys, and the skin. It is also important in the synthesis of cellular DNA.
It is because of its tremendous impact on tissue growth and regeneration that Human Growth Hormone has been largely considered as one of the human body’s true miracle substances.
What are the Uses of HGH?
The uses of Human Growth Hormone are essentially tied to its physiologic properties.
One of the FDA-approved uses of Human Growth Hormone is in the treatment or management of growth hormone deficiency states as replacement therapy. Adults who are diagnosed with acquired pituitary tumors are given shots of HGH in an effort to increase lean body mass, reduce fat mass, increase bone density, reduced the risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, improve overall lipid profile, and improve overall psychosocial well-being.
Human Growth Hormone therapy is also approved in the treatment of health conditions that lead to dwarfism which may not be related at all to a deficiency in growth hormones. The FDA also approves the use of Human Growth Hormone in people with Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, severe idiopathic short stature, chronic renal failure, and intrauterine growth restriction. It has also been approved for use in individuals suffering from AIDS to help improve and maintain their muscle mass secondary to wasting and provide them with a better quality of life in terms of improved mobility.
There are many off-label uses of HGH and these are what are causing a split in the healthcare community. There are those who say that off-label uses of HGH are not approved by the FDA and, hence are illegal. However, there are also those that say these uses are only illegal insofar as the FDA has not reviewed and approved their clinical effectiveness. The principal line of thinking is that if HGH can do a lot of wonderful things for the human body, why limit its use to only a few?
It is for this reason that HGH has been used to achieve the following goals.
Increase muscle strength
Human Growth Hormone stimulates the production of collagen both in the muscles and tendons to help improve overall exercise performance. With an increase in exercise capacity the individual is able to push himself more, allowing him to increase the strength of his muscles. Another effect of HGH that can play a role in increasing muscle strength is improved thermoregulation, leading to a more efficient management of heat generated by contracting muscles. This helps prevent rapid overheating in muscles, allowing for extended exercises to further strengthen muscles.
Promote bone repair and healing after fracture
The bone is essentially composed of minerals deposited in a collagenous matrix. One of the most crucial factors involved in the regulation of mineral deposition and, hence bone metabolism is IGF-1. Since HGH naturally increases the production of IGF-1, it has been shown that the administration of HGH can significantly hasten the speed of bone tissue repair and healing after fractures. Human Growth Hormone enhances the deposition of collagen and allows IGF-1 to help in mineral deposition, allowing for the building of a stronger matrix upon which the reparative processes of bone repair can take place. This aids in the regeneration of the damaged tissue. The same physiology also applies to wounds, making HGH an excellent adjunct to wound management and healing.
Enhance weight loss efforts
HGH has been characterized to accelerate the process of breaking down lipids by increasing the hydrolysis of triglycerides to produce free fatty acids and glycerol. However, it should be noted that HGH as a weight loss adjunct will only work in the presence of calorie-restricted diet. The reason is simple. Restricting calories limits the amount of calories that are available for cellular metabolism. When HGH is added to the regimen, it speeds up the process of lipolysis in an effort to produce free fatty acids that will serve as fuel for the cells. This can have enormous implications on obese individuals who may want to lose weight.
Just as HGH can help with bone tissue repair and regeneration, it too can help in the strengthening of bones by increasing bone density through the action of IGF-1 on both bone-resorbing and bone-forming cells.
Reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease
Two of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases are abnormal lipids and increased body fat mass. Since HGH helps improve triglyceride levels by increasing lipolysis, this can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Take note that HGH does not treat cardiovascular diseases. It only addresses two of the risk factors associated with CVDs.
Improve sexual functioning
Human Growth Hormone is also used for improving sexual functioning especially sex drive and the management of erectile dysfunction in men. Its effects on sex drive is related to the ability of HGH to improve overall cellular health and functioning. An improvement in blood flow to the cavernous sinuses of the male penis can also help with erectile dysfunction.
While HGH can increase lipolytic processes, it can also help increase insulin sensitivity. In several clinical studies among obese individuals who are naturally deficient in human growth hormone, it has been shown that HGH can reduce visceral obesity and insulin resistance, leading to more favorable body weight and the consequent reduction of cardiovascular risk.
Improve cognitive functioning and mood
The administration of HGH has also been shown to improve cognitive functioning and overall mood. These changes are related to an improvement in overall cellular functioning in the nervous system particularly the brain. The improvement of blood flow to the brain and its related structures is also believed to help play a role in cognitive improvements. This can help improve memory, problem-solving, and other cognitive processes that usually decline with advancing age.
Promote better sleep
The human body naturally produces HGH at night just after going to sleep and peaks within hours. The nocturnal nature of HGH production can be severely affected by jobs that require people to stay awake all night. Elderly individuals who suffer from various forms of sleep disorders have also their HGH levels reduced. The administration of Human Growth Hormone has been shown to improve sleep. This allows individuals to feel more energized the following day.
Are there Any Side Effects to Using HGH?
There is a reason why naturally-occurring Human Growth Hormone declines with age. As such, when HGH is reintroduced into the body that is already primed for a reduced amount of HGH, there are potential side effects that can be observed. It is also because of these side effects that HGH should always be given under the strict guidance and supervision of a medical professional. Here are some of the possible side effects of Human Growth Hormone.
- Joint and muscle pain
- Water retention
- Stiffness of the muscles and joints
- Painful growth deformities
In very rare instances, the following adverse reactions may occur.
- Insulin-resistant diabetes
- Increased bleeding tendencies
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Gynecomastia or man-boobs
- Changes in the structure of bones
- Sleep disorders
- Increased pressure within the skull
- Inflamed or enlarged organs, most especially the pancreas
- Increased appearance of moles and other skin discolorations
- Increased speed of cancer growth in persons already with cancer
- Abnormal growth of internal organs especially those in the abdominal cavity
Human Growth Hormone is a very important hormone in the body needed for tissue growth and regeneration. Without it human growth and development will simply never occur. It has its many uses, both medical and off-label, and comes with many potential side effects, too, especially if not used judiciously. While the market may be flooded with many HGH products, it is best to seek the advice of your doctor first before taking any of these Human Growth Hormone preparations.
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