Growth hormone (HGH): What are the effects, benefits and how to raise its levels?

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If among medical substances there is one that should be singled out as one of the most controversial, then growth hormone would certainly be one of the competitors for that place. While some call it the “hormone of youth”, others strongly condemn any manipulation of this hormone.

Where is growth hormone produced?
Growth hormone (HGH) is secreted in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, and is also called somatropin. Growth hormone secretion is regulated by the interaction of the hormones somatostatin and somatocrinin. Somatostatin inhibits growth hormone secretion, while somatocrenin releases growth hormone. In addition to them, increased secretion of growth hormone is caused by external stimuli such as starvation, hypoglycemia, muscle activity, trauma, stress, etc.

When secreted from the pituitary gland, growth hormone remains active in the bloodstream for only a few minutes, but that is enough time for the liver to convert it into growth factors, the most important of which are insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which enhances the anabolic environment in the body.

Growth hormone levels drop with age. After the age of 30, that level drops by 25% in each subsequent decade, so by the age of 60 you have only 25% of the amount of growth hormone you had in your prime (twenties). As scientists assume, if the level of growth hormone did not decrease with age, the lifespan of a person would be about 140 years, we would be a few centimeters taller and we would have significantly more muscles.

Benefits of growth hormone
In the simplest terms, growth hormone affects cell growth and regeneration. Growth hormone affects processes that result in increased synthesis and decreased breakdown of proteins. The effect of increased protein synthesis under the influence of growth hormone applies to all tissues in the body, and is most pronounced on bone and cartilage growth.
In addition, the growth hormone promotes the increased utilization of fat for energy, by increasing the release of fatty acids, improves libido, and affects the reduction of glucose utilization and the increased synthesis of glycogen in cells. In addition, growth hormone helps regulate body composition, body fluid ratios, muscle and bone growth, fat and sugar metabolism, and heart function.
Studies have shown that doses of 1.0-1.5 mg in the bloodstream have positive effects on health, and these are precisely the optimal levels of natural growth hormone in the human body.
Medical use of growth hormone
Growth hormone was first discovered in the 1920s, isolated in the form of somatropin for the first time in 1956, and synthetic growth hormone was first produced in 1981 and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in specific cases in children and adults. In children, growth hormone is allowed in cases of stunted growth caused by various medical conditions:
Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects development in girls
Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones and a constant feeling of hunger
Chronic renal failure
Insufficiency or excessive production of growth hormone
In children born too small for their gestational age
In adults, growth hormone treatment is allowed in these cases:
Short bowel syndrome in which nutrients are not absorbed properly due to a number of intestinal diseases or surgery to remove a large part of the small intestine
Growth hormone deficiency caused by rare pituitary tumors or treatments for these diseases
Diseases associated with the loss of muscle tissue after AIDS
However, the most common cases of growth hormone use are not related to the listed medical cases and are not on the list of permitted treatments. The most common use of growth hormone is related to sports and its impact on athletic performance.
Negative aspects of taking growth hormone
When talking about the negative effects that injected synthetic growth hormone can have on humans, it is important to distinguish between: marketing (pharmaceutical lobby) and science.
“Complications that can be caused by taking growth hormone in medically supervised doses are minimal. In some people, it is water retention and a slight rise in blood sugar levels. In cases of uncontrolled intake of this hormone, there are cases of enhanced growth of the liver and limbs, but even these are rare cases,” says Dr. Eric Braverman from New York's Path Medical Center, where studies of the effects of growth hormones on slowing down aging are conducted.
“Growth hormone is associated with slowing the development of age-related degenerative diseases, increasing sexual power, maintaining mental alertness and awareness, and improving general health,” adds Braverman.
The negative sides of the uncontrolled manipulation of growth hormone that scientists point out are damage to the liver, pancreas and thyroid gland, increased intracranial pressure, pain in the joints and muscles, carpal tunnel syndrome – compression of the nerve in the hand area, but in all cases it is pointed out as the cause of “uncontrolled taking of excessive doses growth hormone”.
How to raise growth hormone levels naturally?
There are three important factors that affect human growth hormone levels. That are:
physical activity (strength training)
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Very simply, the more you exercise, the more growth hormone your body will produce. Intense training that consumes larger amounts of energy and longer periods of physical exhaustion through training are the key to the production of greater amounts of growth hormone. Namely, these catabolic states require additional protein synthesis, and in cases of energy consumption, increased fat metabolism is required to replace empty glycogen stores.
Also, growth hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland during sleep. As much as 75% of the total daily amount of secreted growth hormone is produced during sleep, especially in the REM phase of sleep. Studies confirm that growth hormone is at its highest level during deep sleep, so it is recommended to sleep at least 7 hours at a time. During this period, growth hormone is produced in response to the need to gather energy for the next day.
Diet is the third important factor that affects growth hormone levels: a balanced diet that is rich in all important nutrients and maintains health and weight, also maintains high growth hormone levels. Obesity and excess weight affect the lowering of growth hormone levels.
As expected, the most important nutrient in the production of growth hormones are amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). However, in order for the effect of ingested amino acids to be used, 15-20% of the diet must be healthy fats, which includes cholesterol, the reservoir of basic hormones in the body that stimulate the production of other hormones.
Recent studies have confirmed that supplementation can have a positive effect on growth hormone levels, but only if taken in the correct proportions:
Arginine (5-8 g) is the primary driver of growth hormone production.
Ornithine (4-7 g) works synergistically with arginine, from which it is derived. Their combination has the best effect on the natural production of growth hormones.
Glutamine (5 g) or glutamine peptide has a positive effect on the use of arginine in situations where this amino acid is lacking.
Glycine (3-10 g)
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) (3 g)
BCAA (3-6 g)ghInstead of a conclusion
The goal of this text is not to promote the unsupervised intake of growth hormone, but rather to familiarize with the facts and scientifically proven claims about the effects of this hormone in the human body.
Growth hormone is certainly a necessary factor in training and rest after physical activity, and knowing how to influence its levels in the body can help optimize training results and goals.
As with other hormones, the irresponsible use of growth hormone without medical supervision can have a number of health complications. Growth hormone certainly has a number of positive effects on health, but manipulations with it are certainly not recommended.

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