Discover the science of the human brain

Many people believe that the human growth hormone (HGH) is the secret of touching the elusive fountain of youth or reaching peak athletic performance levels. In fact, there are a few brands that advocate HGH therapy through dietary supplements.

Before you are tempted to reverse the flow of time, think again! Is growth hormone treatment safe at all?

We have compiled all the necessary facts about HGH side effects to help you learn the truth.

Key Takeaways

  • The approved uses of HGH for specific conditions and its abuse in sports like bodybuilding.
  • The role of growth hormone in the body, especially in maintaining cardiovascular health and balanced blood sugar levels.
  • The various side effects of HGH treatment and how unprescribed use may require emergency medical help.
  • The best human growth hormone supplements for consumption and the role of a balanced diet.

HGH Uses and Abuses

As the name indicates, the growth hormone plays an important role in human growth and development. The FDA-approved uses of the hormone involve the treatment of multiple developmental related conditions.

GHRH decreases with age, which in turn, slows down the production of HGH. Women also have lower levels than men

The unprescribed use of growth hormone is illegal. Even so, many athletes and bodybuilders combine synthetic growth hormone with performance-enhancing drugs to improve performance and lean muscle mass [1].

Note, growth hormone is included in the prohibited list of anabolic agents by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) [2]. You cannot use HGH in the United States without a valid prescription.

HGH Approved Uses

  • Some children suffer from growth hormone deficiency which results in growth failure. The hormone is used in such conditions to treat growth failure and short stature.
  • Adults may suffer damage to the pituitary gland from an accident or radiation therapy, resulting in growth hormone deficiency in the blood. HGH is used to treat such conditions after blood tests.
  • It is used for the treatment of Turner’s syndrome in women that prevents the development of sexual characteristics.
  • HGH is used in genetic disorder treatment for Prader-Willi syndrome and Noonan syndrome.
  • Treatment of short bowel syndrome that prevents absorption of nutrients in the body.
  • It is also used for treating cancers of the pituitary gland and HIV/AIDS-related conditions.

HGH Abuses

  • To build muscle mass and reduce body fat percentage.
  • It is used to slow aging and reverse the effect of age on the body.
  • Athletes use growth hormone to improve stamina and overall performance levels.
  • To speed up tissue repair and faster recovery of the body.

What Does HGH Do To Your Body?

Growth hormone is a complex chain of about 190 amino acids that are secreted by special cells called the somatotrophs in the pituitary gland. The generation is regulated by multiple feedback loops. It also depends on the levels of hormones like IGF1, ghrelin, thyroid hormones, and androgens.

Here are some of the major roles of HGH in the body:

  • Growth hormone acts directly on fat cells and prevents lipid deposition by promoting lipolysis and triglyceride breakdown. However, the complete role of HGH in the process of fat loss is yet to be clearly understood.
  • Growth hormone stimulates the liver cells to secrete the IGF-I. IGF-I hormones promote bone growth in children and play an important role in protein synthesis and muscle growth.
  • It acts directly on the processes related to protein, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism. In some cases, the action is through the IGF-I hormone.
  • Growth hormone plays a crucial role in keeping blood glucose levels within normal limits [3].
  • It has a major impact on the cardiovascular system and cardiac metabolism. The hormone improves the overall functioning of the heart and the collagen deposition rate in the heart muscles. In addition, it assists in vascular growth and proper arterial function [4].
  • HGH helps in fetal brain development and also assists in brain cell repair after injuries and accidents.

HGH Side Effects

The many side effects of HGH use can be short and long-term in nature.

General

When used for prolonged periods, synthetic human growth hormone can lead to multiple side effects in a healthy adult:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased insulin resistance.
  • Edema or severe swelling due to fluid retention in the arms and legs.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Increased risk of specific cancers.
  • Severe pain in the upper stomach spreading.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Reduced touch sensations.
  • Bouts of nervousness.
  • Shortness of breath leading to serious breathing problems.
  • Slowed heart rhythm.

Gender-Specific

In most cases, the use of HGH for men and women has similar side effects. Still, there are some gender-specific side effects of HGH use as well. Research also suggests that sensitivity to HGH for adults is dependent on gender [5].

The most common ones are listed below:

  • Gynecomastia or the enlargement of breast tissue in men.
  • Turner syndrome or low testosterone in women.
  • Change in menstruation patterns for women.

Other possible HGH side effects include soft tissue edema, IFG, IGT, DM, arthralgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome

What Are the Side Effects of Growth Hormone Therapy?

A few side effects have been observed from medically-approved HGH treatment as well. However, there is limited research on the long-term effects of such programst in adult growth hormone deficiency.

Listed below are some of the side effects of HGH treatments:

  • Muscle pain or spasms.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Joint discomfort.
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs.
  • Unusual headaches or severe dizziness.
  • Cold or flu symptoms including a stuffy nose or sore throat.
  • Ear infections, pounding sensation in the ears, or ear pain.
  • Dry or sore throat.
  • Dry mouth or fruity breath odor.
  • Change in sleep pattern, lack of sleep, sleep apnea, new or increased snoring.
  • Tightness in the chest or severe breathing problems.
  • Tender or swollen glands in the neck.
  • Increased urination and thirst.

Are HGH Side Effects Permanent?

Quite a few adverse reactions resulting from the medical use of human growth hormone do not need any treatment. They usually go away as the body adjusts to the medication. In the case of children treated for HGH deficiency, the adverse effects are usually reversible [6].

Medical practitioners can also adjust the hormone dosage or suggest ways to reduce or prevent such side effects. Most of the adverse effects mentioned are not permanent.

However, long-term HGH use without medical supervision can lead to grave consequences, including hypertension, cardiac issues, and metabolic complications. With regular use of supplements, the body might stop producing it naturally.

The fact that HGH use can improve athletic performance or reverse aging has not yet been established [7]. Experts suggest that users may face severe health complications years or decades after the actual use.

What Is the Best Human Growth Hormone Supplement?

With a wide variety of human growth hormone supplements available on the market, one can be overwhelmed with choices. These supplements are made from natural components and come in the form of tablets or oral spray.

In most cases, the hormone is combined with other agents like androgens. But the effect of HGH is not the same as that of hormones like free testosterone.

Firstly, before taking any supplement it is necessary to learn about all the components. You must also discuss with your doctor before starting any type of supplement. Many people can have an allergic reaction to some of these components.

The data available on the effects of HGH indicates that it can reduce body fat and increase lean body mass [8]. But there is no conclusive evidence to prove that HGH injections or supplements enhance athletic performance or lead to severe weight loss.

There is a lack of research data to provide medical advice that supplementation of HGH results in an increase in an athlete’s strength or endurance levels. Neither has it demonstrated capabilities like a reversal of the aging process and extension of life span.

Keep in mind; the USADA mentions that athletes should consume all forms of growth hormone-related dietary supplements at their own risk.

If you want to improve lean muscle mass without the risk of side effects like excessive growth, a testosterone supplement can be a good choice. Check out our Nugenix Total T review for more details.

That said, a few natural amino acids can improve the production of HGH in the body [9]. These include arginine, ornithine, glutamine, and lysine.

FAQ

What Are the Symptoms of a Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Deficiency?

Some of the common symptoms resulting from growth hormone deficiency include:

  • A higher percentage of body fat around the midsection.
  • Poor growth in children.
  • Anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Reduced bone density.
  • Turner syndrome.
  • Lack of concentration and poor memory.
  • Tiredness and reduced stamina.
What Do Growth Hormone Injections Do?

HGH injections are used to administer synthetic HGH in the body. The injections are used as a part of the HGH deficiency treatment and the frequency is based on the severity of the condition.

Is Taking HGH Safe?

The hormone should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor as a part of an HGH treatment process. In this way, the side effects, if any, can be mitigated.

Is HGH Legal?

The FDA considers HGH as a controlled substance. Unless prescribed by a supervising physician for medical purposes, its use is considered illegal.

Why Is HGH Illegal for Personal Use?

As per the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the use of HGH for non-medical purposes is a punishable offense.

Are There Natural Growth Hormone Substitutes?

There are some food items that contain certain amino acids that can improve HGH levels. These are fish, meat, eggs, nuts, soybeans, and spinach.

Is HGH a Steroid?

HGH is not a steroid. However, it is often used illegally in combination with anabolic steroids to improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass.

Does HGH Make You Taller?

HGH does promote growth and bone mass development in its natural form. However, supplemental use for gaining height is illegal and risky.

Conclusion

While individuals who lack natural growth hormone in the body require treatment, artificial supplementation of HGH can have dangerous adverse reactions. As we have mentioned, evidence regarding the age-reversing effects of the hormone is not conclusive and often contradictory.

Based on the present clinical trials, it is evident taking growth hormone without medical supervision is not safe. It’s best to increase the HGH levels by natural methods, which are a healthy diet, proper sleep, and regular exercise.

References:

  1. Saugy, M, et al. “Human Growth Hormone Doping in Sport.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, BMJ Group, July 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2657499/#:~:text=Athletes%20and%20bodybuilders%20claim%20that,part%20in%20major%20sports%20events.
  2. “Growth Hormone in Sport: What Athletes Should Know: USADA.” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), 3 Jan. 2020,
  3. Møller N;Jørgensen JO;Abildgård N;Orskov L;Schmitz O;Christiansen JS; “Effects of Growth Hormone on Glucose Metabolism.” Hormone Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1806481/.
  4. Devesa, Jesús, et al. “Multiple Effects of Growth Hormone in the Body: Is It Really the Hormone for Growth?” Clinical Medicine Insights. Endocrinology and Diabetes, Libertas Academica, 12 Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5063841/.
  5. Johansson AG;Engström BE;Ljunghall S;Karlsson FA;Burman P; “Gender Differences in the Effects of Long Term Growth Hormone (GH) Treatment on Bone in Adults with GH Deficiency.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10372701/.
  6. R;, Lanes. “Long-Term Outcome of Growth Hormone Therapy in Children and Adolescents.” Treatments in Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15743113/.
  7. Harman, S. Mitchell, and Marc R. Blackman. “Hormones and Supplements: Do They Work? Use of Growth Hormone for Prevention or Treatment of Effects of Aging.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 July 2004, academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/59/7/B652/585756.
  8. Pasarica, Magdalena, et al. “Effect of Growth Hormone on Body Composition and Visceral Adiposity in Middle-Aged Men with Visceral Obesity.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Nov. 2007, academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/11/4265/2598453.
  9. J;, Chromiak JA;Antonio. “Use of Amino Acids as Growth Hormone-Releasing Agents by Athletes.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12093449/#:~:text=Specific%20amino%20acids%2C%20such%20as,infused%20intravenously%20or%20administered%20orally.

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