The Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is perhaps the most marketed hormone analogue in the market. Besides being used widely for bodybuilding and strength enhancement, people also claim that it has some anti-aging properties which makes it a favorable choice of therapy among the adult population.
Naturally, HGH is made in the body by certain cells called somatotrophs, which are located in the anterior portion of the pituitary gland. Just as the name suggests, the Human Growth Hormone enhances and /or facilitates normal growth. It also has secondary roles such as in the regulation of metabolism – but it is mostly used in children to treat developmental problems such as impaired growth.
But what about aging? How does HGH impact on aging? What are the mechanisms? And does it really work for aging?
Stay tuned for the expert explanation of what you can expect of HGH – especially when used as a medication for anti-aging.
Human Growth Hormone HGH and Anti-aging: Does It Slow Aging?
A few centuries ago in the 1500s, the scientist had already started their quest for an antidote for human aging. However, it is always said that if they got any benefits, it was because of the amount of exercise that involved the search and not any new drug.
Some people today have, however, despised exercise and are settling for an easy way forward to develop lean muscles to appear younger and stronger. They believe that HGH injections – which is often called the syringe of youth in their cycles – is a miraculous substance that can help relieve symptoms of aging.
Their belief is not without evidence. People who subscribe to the “anti-aging” movement such as the very competitive athletes and bodybuilders have revealed that HGH is the reason why they maintain a young physique over a long period of time.
But, does growth hormone really slow aging?
It really depends on how you look at it. Consider this, for instance:
Here is the other side of the coin: aging comes with a lot of changes both physically and mentally. As you age, certain changes accumulate in your body over time. These changes may be manifested physically such as wrinkling and drying of the skin, muscles become flabby, bones become weak and very often, your eyesight starts to diminish. Thinking positively: aging also makes you wiser – out of the experience.
So how does HGH come to play here?
As much as it may not stop the clock so that you can stay young forever, HGH will initiate a cascade of metabolic activities that ultimately eliminate certain signs and symptoms of aging. So does HGH slow down aging? Yes, HGH slows down the aging process by removing and/or reducing the signs of aging.
One 45-year-old friend of mine usually jokes that: “After using HGH, I feel like I am a sweet sixteen with 29 years of adult life experience.” – Quite a hilarious way to look at it, but it works for him.
Age-Related Decline in Growth Hormone Release and Its Functional Implications
The levels of growth hormone circulating in blood at any given time are usually higher in childhood and early life. This age bracket corresponds with the time when the body is rapidly growing both in stature and complexion.
This period of growth is always marked by rapid skeletal development and muscle growth – thanks to the sufficient amount of HGH. However, the production of growth hormone in the body starts declining significantly after you attain adult body size – full physical and reproductive maturation.
The levels of HGH declines significantly with increasing age. Eventually, the GH levels in the blood of an elderly person becomes much lower than the amount seen in childhood. This age related decline in HGH production is a well-documented phenomenon and has been studied in a variety of mammalian species.
The decline in HGH production and effects is an axis that involves three hormones: The Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH), the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) itself, and the Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
Insulin-like growth factor is a hormone majorly produced and activated in the liver. It is the chief mediator of most growth hormone actions. Its production is largely regulated by growth hormone. Therefore, insufficient/ reduced production of growth hormone directly impacts on the levels of IGF-1.
The cells that produce growth hormone in the anterior pituitary are called somatotrophs. This axis involving GHRH, HGH and IGF-1 is called the somatotropic axis.
Therefore, the age related decline in the overall activity of this somatotropic axis is essentially known as somatopause. This term is coined as an analogy for menopause and andropause which refers to the age related decline in the function of gonads and reduced levels of sex steroids in both females and males respectively.
Adult growth hormone deficiency always presents with symptoms such as reduced muscle mass, increased storage of fat in the body, reduced libido, and reduced energy and overall body strength. As a result, it suffices to conclude that the majority of age related symptoms are contributed to by somatopause – the decline in GHRH, HGH and IG-1 production.
However, these claims are still unproven because there are limited research to substantiate what they think could be the explanation behind HGH anti-aging benefits. Despite the limited amount of research, people still use HGH and doctors still prescribe it off label. Actually, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of synthetic growth hormone for anti-aging.
What Is the Mechanism of HGH Anti-aging?
In the 1990s, a study was conducted to determine the effects of growth hormone on adults aged above 60 years old. Men who had decreased levels of insulin-like growth factor were selected for the study. The results were incredible:
These researchers found out that the treatment with growth hormone reduced the amount of fat stored in the body, significantly increased their muscle mass, increased the mineral density of their bones and also improved the general wellbeing of these study subjects.
But why doesn’t the FDA approve the use of synthetic HGH for anti-aging?
Although several studies have been done on animals, there are no significant studies that have been done on humans. And the FDA certainly won’t allow humans to use a product whose pharmacological profile in the human body has not been well elucidated. Controversial findings have also been made by some studies which claim that HGH will reduce the signs of aging but it will also reduce longevity.
The bottom line here is: not many studies have been done on humans and it is somewhat difficult to predict the exact pharmacological profile of synthetic HGH when used by humans.
HGH Anti-Aging Benefits
The effects of reduced HGH production with age are majorly due to the impairment in the metabolic process that are regulated by HGH. Here are some of the sites where HGH come to play and how it helps:
- Adipose tissue
Excess body fat is a challenge to most people especially when the doctor says that it predisposes you to serious cardiovascular disease. Body fat is majorly stored in the abdomen, especially around the visceral organs. This process is largely mediated by the hormone insulin which is produced by the pancreas.
HGH is strong antagonist for insulin. Actually, it has receptors in the adipose tissue where it binds to directly and causes the mobilization of triglycerides to form free fatty acids. This process eventually reduces the amount of fat stored in the body.
As you age, fat may get deposited in the muscles and bones, thus potentiating the weakness and flabby muscles that are characteristic of old age.
- Muscular tissue
HGH facilitates the metabolism of proteins in the muscular tissue. Proteins are essentially bodybuilding nutrients which are major ingredients for growth and development. It is due to this effect that HGH is widely used in bodybuilding to increase muscle mass.
One of the symptoms of old age is reduced muscle mass. As a result, one of the most widely accepted HGH anti-aging benefits is increased muscle mass. This in turn increases the tension in the skin which also reduces wrinkling of the skin.
- Structural development of bone
HGH significantly increase the mineralization in the bone. This action is largely mediated by the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). In old age, reduced bone strength and bone mass are a classic symptom of aging.
Bone problems are the leading cause of pain among the elderly. The link between HGH and anti-aging is greatly manifested when HGH dosage for anti-aging is used as a supplement by the elderly.
When HGH supplementation has upregulated these symptoms of aging, the individual always feel a general sense of wellbeing. Such emotional and physical stability not only preserves life, but also prolongs life significantly.
What Is The HGH Dosage for Anti-Aging?
Most doctors usually suggest that you use just a little amount of HGH dosage for its anti-aging effects. There are benefits that accompany the usage of little dosages. For instance, high dosages of HGH are very dangerous with undesirable side effects. To ensure that you achieve your desired results without suffering any consequences, you should use limited dosages as prescribed by a professional.
Ideally, most people are advised to use between 0.25 and 1 IU of growth hormone per day for its anti aging benefits. Dosages may vary depending on what you want to achieve. They can go to as much as 6 IU if you want both the anti-aging and bodybuilding effects simultaneously.
Irrespective of what you want to achieve with growth hormone supplementation, experts always recommend that you don’t exceed a HGH dosage of 4 IU. It the safest limit for achieving maximum effects.
What Are the Dangers of Using HGH for Anti-aging?
The relationship between HGH and anti-aging does not come without challenges. Like as with all hormone supplements and exogenous drugs, your body which is “aging normally as expected” will respond if you introduce a substance which tends to alter physiologic processes.
As a result, you may experience side effects such as:
- Worsening or onset of diabetes mellitus.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Swelling which is medically called edema.
- Heart failure due to incessant high blood pressure.
- Inflammatory processes which cause joint pains and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Although there are no studies to prove or disapprove the risk of cancer, exogenous pharmacological products have been known to predispose an individual to cancer.
HGH Anti-Aging Results and What to Expect
Since Rudmann presented his study on the effects of GH administered to elderly men in the New England Journal of Medicine, several studies have spring up to either approve or disapprove his findings which were as follows:
- HGH increases muscle mass
- HGH improves bone mineralization and bone density.
- HGH boosts the overall strength of an individual.
- HGH reduces the amount of fat stored in the body.
- HGH improves the overall wellness of an individual.
According to Rudmann, these are the HGH anti-aging results that you should expect when you use HGH supplementation.
Currently, there is inadequate research that can prompt the recommendation of HGH for use in anti-aging. There is also no iota of evidence that such research will ever be carried in humans because the costs and risks are too great to be experimented with on humans. Nevertheless, some people who use HGH supplementation have reported significant benefits that are related to anti-aging. You can always consult your doctor if you are not sure of the best course of action to take.
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- Shimokawa I, Higami Y, Utsuyama M, et al. Lifespan extension by reduction of the growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor-1 axis: relation to caloric restriction. Am J Pathol. 2002; 160:2259–65
- Laron Z. Do deficiencies in growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) shorten or prolong longevity? Mech Ageing Dev. 2005; 126:305–7.