A lot of questions hit the MDA doorstep about HGH, Human Growth Hormone, and with good reason. It’s been touted in some circles as a bottled fountain of youth among other grandiose claims. Countless companies have jumped on that bandwagon, peddling worthless products with HGH labels.
We love to take on the propagandists and snake oil sales industries, and today will be no exception. Shall we begin?
The Basics of HGH
The natural HGH coursing through your body right now is, indeed, a perfectly remarkable anabolic hormone. It’s produced by the pituitary gland throughout life, but the levels gradually decline with age. The hormone is key for children’s growth and the health of the body’s organs. It stimulates the growth of muscle, bone and cartilage and enhances immune function. HGH is prescribed for children who are abnormally short in stature and for adults with diagnosed pituitary deficiency.
Genuine HGH is manufactured with recombinant DNA technology. Human genes are spliced into plant or embryonic animal cells. The resulting synthetic form is a controlled substance that must be medically prescribed and is only administered by injection. This is the only authentic and safe form of HGH. Animal HGH doesn’t work in humans, and it doesn’t exist in plants. True HGH, because of the elaborate scientific process it takes to produce it, comes with a hefty price tag. Estimates range from $10,000-$30,000 for a year’s worth of doses, which vary with individual prescription. (Fun fact: HGH used to be made from the removed and “processed” pituitary glands of cadavers.)
We’re talking here about the homeopathic formulas, nasal sprays, sublinguals, secretagogues, and all the other forms you can get from supplement companies or health food stores without a prescription. None of them work. None.
HGH and Anti-Aging
A shoddy study with twelve older men (yes, twelve) done some fifteen years ago showed promise, but there was never any follow up or discussion of long-term effect. Since this study (if you can call it that), we’ve begun to understand the risks inherent in using HGH for anti-aging purposes.
First of all, we don’t have any evidence to prove that injected HGH, which doesn’t emulate normal secretion patterns, will improve health or longevity. A Stanford University review  saw reason to believe that administered HGH resulted in very moderate increases in muscle mass, but that minor positive came with a host of negatives. Side effects of HGH administration in older adults include joint pain, swelling of soft tissue, carpal tunnel, as well as an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and prostate cancer. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old!
So-Called HGH “Releasers”
Really simple: they don’t work. They’re advertised everywhere and claim to prompt the natural release of your own HGH. There isn’t a single reliable study that confirms these claims. Period. Supposedly, the mechanism is being studied and in development, but I’m not holding my breath. I promise you we’ll let you know if the scientific community has any legitimate breakthroughs in this area. In the meantime, don’t trust the ads in the backs of magazines or websites that tell you it’s arrived.
HGH is a great thing when you produce it naturally. MDA’s philosophy (a.k.a. the very fetching Primal Blueprint ) involves achieving hormonal balance naturally. Nothing raises HGH in the body like good, intense anaerobic workouts and sleep. A good night of shut-eye is key, since the body produces HGH, as well as serotonin and other loveable hormones during sleep. The other component to maximizing your body’s natural production of HGH is, of course, that healthy, hormone-friendly diet we harp on all the time.
So, save yourself a whole lot of money and frustration. There’s no short cut miracle. Forget the HGH supplement hype, and invest in your overall health. Your body and your bank balance will thank you for it.
Mike Licht  Flickr Photo (CC)