Human Growth Hormone Secrets Revealed

An In-Depth Study of HGH

Vernon Rich

Publication of an article in 1990 by Daniel Rudman, MD., a researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin, touched off frenzy about the potential of human growth hormone (HGH) as an anti-aging therapy. The placebo-controlled study of 21 healthy men aged 61-81 showed that the men who received doses of biosynthetic HGH achieved an 8.8% increase in lean body mass, a 14.4% decrease in adipose-tissue mass, and a 1.6% increase in average lumbar vertebral bone density. Skin thickness increased .1%.
Since 1990, few medical topics have caused more controversy than HGH. Proponents tout it as the fountain of youth, a miracle cure for aging. Skeptics point to a potential increase in the risk for cancer and other health problems, as well as the dangers of tampering with powerful and little understood natural processes.

Adding fuel to the fire, a number of fraudulent human growth products on the market make ridiculous scientific claims about worthless and perhaps dangerous substances. There is also a massive black market trade in HGH sales without a prescription, much of it coming from foreign sources.

What is all the fuss about? Is HGH a miracle or a dangerous medical trend? First, we should look at what HGH is and what it does in the body.

What is HGH?

HGH is a hormone with several functions, especially the stimulation of growth and reproduction of cells in the body. The somatotroph cells in the pituitary gland (the pea sized organ at the base of your brain) synthesize, store, and secrete HGH.

HGH plays a part in many biological processes inside the body. These include:

* Strengthening and mineralizing the bone
* Increasing muscle mass by creating new muscle cells
* Reducing body fat
* Synthesizing protein
* Playing a role in fuel homeostasis
* Reducing liver uptake of glucose (opposes the effects of insulin)
* Promoting gluconeogenesis in the liver
* Contributing to the maintenance and function of pancreatic islets
* Stimulating the immune system
* Increasing retention of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus
* Repairing damaged cells

HGH also stimulates production of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1
(IGF-1). HGH targets the liver for the production of IGF-1. IGF-1 stimulates growth on a wide variety of tissues, including skin, muscle and blood vessel tissue. IGF-1 also has stimulatory effects on osteoblast and chondrocyte activity to promote bone growth. IGF-1 is one of the most potent natural activators of the AKT signaling pathway, a stimulator of cell growth and replication and significant inhibitor of programmed cell death.

Synthetic HGH

For many years, the only source of HGH was that naturally produced inside of the human body. HuHGH came from cadavers in small quantities for treatment of certain diseases in children resulting from low production of HGH. In 1981, a company called Genentech began trials on synthetic HGH. Now, companies produce large quantities of HGH using recombinant DNA, a process whereby human genes go into bacteria DNA, causing the bacteria to produce HGH. This synthetic HGH is biologically identical to the HGH produced inside the human body.

Drawbacks of Synthetic HGH

There are many drawbacks to the use of synthetic HGH. These include a murky legal climate, a plethora of fraudulent products, expense, painful injections, contradictory research and professional opinion, lack of research into long-term use of HGH, and a variety of potential side effects.

Regulations and Controversy

Without a prescription, synthetic HGH is illegal in the United States and many other countries.

It is not legal for doctors in the United States to prescribe HGH except under a very narrow set of circumstances. The FDA approves synthetic HGH for the treatment of HGH deficiency in children caused by syndromes such as Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. In addition, the FDA approved Humatrope® (a prescription form from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company) for adults under the following conditions:

“Adult Onset: Patients who have growth hormone deficiency, either alone or associated with multiple hormone deficiencies (hypopituitarism), as a result of pituitary disease, hypothalamic disease, surgery, radiation therapy, or trauma …”

In a January 23, 2007 alert, the FDA listed the following as approved uses for synthetic HGH:

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is the active ingredient in a number of human prescription drugs approved for marketing in the U.S. under new drug applications (NDAs). FDA-approved HGH can be legally prescribed for a limited number of conditions including:

* hormonal deficiency that causes short stature in

* long-term treatment of growth failure due to lack of exogenous GH secretion;

* long-term treatment of short stature associated with Turner syndrome;

* adult short bowel syndrome;

* adult deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or
their treatment; and

* muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS.

Later in the same alert:

Section 303(e)(1)of the FDCA, 21 U.S.C. 333(e)(1), prohibits knowingly distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute, HGH for any use in humans other than the treatment of a disease or other recognized medical condition, where such use has been authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) under section 505 of the FDCA (21 U.S.C. 355) and pursuant to the order of a physician.The Secretary of HHS has not authorized, for example, any HGH use for anti-aging, bodybuilding, or athletic enhancement. Thus, distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute, HGH for these uses or any other unapproved use violates section 303(e) (1) of the FDCA. A violation of section 303(e)(1) carries up to 5 years imprisonment and fines and, if the offense involves an individual under the age of 18 years of age, up to 10 years imprisonment and fines.

Doctors who prescribe HGH for “off-label” use run the risk of legal action against them. Doctors have lost their license to practice and have gone to prison for illegally prescribing HGH. Punishment for doctors convicted of prescribing HGH for other than FDA approved is up to 5 years in prison ? along with a hefty fine.

In May of 2007, actor Sylvester Stallone pleaded guilty in Australia to importing vials of Jintropin, a synthetic HGH produced in China. The judgment was a $2975 fine plus $10,000 in “prosecution costs.” Stallone claimed that the HGH was for his own use and that he had received a doctor’s prescription for it for a valid medical condition, even though Jintropin is not approved for prescription or use in the United States (his home country).

HGH use in professional athletes, specifically professional baseball players in the United States, resulted in association with anabolic steroids. Athletes seeking athletic performance enhancement obtain prescriptions for HGH from “anti-aging” clinics. HGH is a banned substance in professional baseball in the United States. Investigation into use of controlled substances in professional baseball led to raids and arrests on “anti-aging” clinics that handed out prescriptions to those wanting HGH for increased athletic performance.

There is also controversy over the safety and benefits of HGH for otherwise healthy individuals. Many doctors and researchers say that lower HGH is part of the natural aging process and that we should not interfere with the process. They also point out the potential side effects of HGH and question its benefit for otherwise healthy individuals.

HGH Frauds, Fakes and Scams

The Internet is loaded with ads and sites selling a vast array of products claiming to be HGH. These sites make outlandish claims about the health benefits of HGH while saying nothing about the potential side effects.

One site claiming endorsement by a doctor sells an HGH spray. There are others selling HGH creams. Research indicates that HGH sprays and creams are worthless for getting HGH into the body for utilization. The only reliable way the body can utilize enough synthetic HGH for biological use is via injections.

Stay away from nasal sprays, oral sprays, creams and pills claiming to be HGH and offering the same benefits as HGH injections. Many of these products contain no HGH. Even if they did contain HGH, they would be worthless.

Some sites claim to help you by pointing out the fraud and scam products out there while trying to sell you a product that is equally as fraudulent and useless as the ones they warn you about. They do this to try to improve their images and look honest while pointing out other frauds. What they say about the other products is almost undoubtedly true, but what they say about other products is true of theirs as well.

Others use the threat of painful injections as a selling point for their own products ? products that do not require injections. These products do not require injections, but they almost certainly do not work as promised either. HGH requires injection to get the intended benefit. Currently, there is no other effective delivery system known or readily available.

Other companies (illegally) deliver HGH through postal carriers without a prescription. According to the HGH industry Web site Somatropin (, HGH loses its effectiveness if not kept at a temperature of 2-8 degrees. Higher or lower temperatures could destroy the effectiveness of the HGH. They also claim that shaking and other rough treatment a package might receive when shipped could render the HGH useless.

It is against the law to sell HGH in the United States without a prescription for an FDA-approved use. Cosmetic, anti-aging and athletic performance enhancements are not FDA-approved uses of HGH. Any company offering to sell HGH injections via the mail without a prescription is breaking the law, regardless of their product quality. If you order these products, you are breaking the law and you have no idea what you are getting. Likely, the product is worthless because of heat exposure or other factors that destroy the benefits of HGH. There is also a chance that the product is dangerous, containing impurities or growth hormone from animals.


Costs vary dramatically for HGH treatments for “anti-aging” purposes. HGH treatments could cost $2000 or more per year. It depends on the follow-up care, number of doses required, and if HGH treatment is part of a larger “anti-aging” therapy program.

Side Effects

While the long-term effects of HGH are still under evaluation, there are well-known potential side effects of HGH injections. Some of these include:

• Hypoglycemia
• Acromeglia
• Extended belly
• Carpel tunnel syndrome
• Joint pain
• Potential for increased cancer risk
• Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men)
• Edema
• High blood pressure
• Abnormal bone and cartilage growth
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Irregular heartbeat

This is not a complete list of side effects, but a representative of potential side-effects for reference purposes. Not everyone experiences these side effects. This is why it is important for those considering HGH therapy to seek the guidance of a qualified physician.

Aging and HGH Decline

Humans experience a dramatic decline in HGH as we age. HGH for a healthy person is at its peak during puberty. After puberty, HGH declines significantly. By the time an individual reaches age 50 or 60, growth hormone production may have declined to 15% of peak highs or lower.

The questions researchers want to answer is if this is a desirable result or if low HGH output is one cause of aging that may be reversed with HGH therapy.

HGH Benefits

While there are many drawbacks to HGH, there are also many potential benefits:

* Greater cardiac output
* Lowered blood pressure
* Superior immune function
* Enhanced human sexual performance
* Improved cholesterol profile
* Reduced body fat
* Higher energy levels
* Increased exercise performance
* Supplement stronger bones
* Hair re-growth
* Younger, tighter, thicker skin
* Wrinkle removal
* Increased muscle mass
* Re-generation of major organs that shrink with age

This is not a complete list of benefits but only some that may occur. Not everyone experiences these benefits, and there are many potential negative side effects. This is why it is important for those considering HGH therapy to seek the guidance of a qualified physician.

Growth Hormone Studies

Several studies examined the effects of HGH. There are sure to be many more in the future. Below is a summary of some of the important studies related to HGH and anti-aging:

Rudman Study (1990)
Effects of HGH in men over 60 years old
This study started the excitement about the potential for HGH in anti-aging applications. 21 healthy men aged 61-81 years old participated in the study. They all had Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) levels of less than 350 units per liter. Over a six-month period, 12 men received approximately 0.03 mg of biosynthetic HGH per kilogram of body weight subcutaneously three times a week while the other nine men received a placebo. The treatments lasted six months.

The 12 men receiving HGH increased their IGF-1 levels to the “youthful range” of 500 to 1500 units per liter. Other results included a 8.8% increase in lean body mass, a 14.4% decrease in adipose-tissue mass, and a 1.6% increase in average lumbar vertebral bone density. Skin thickness increased .1%.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Effects of HGH in men over 60 years old

There is much controversy over this research ? not because the research was faulty in any way, but because of the duration and number of people in the study. Critics say that there were too few people in the study to reach conclusions and the duration was too short for any potential serious side effects to show up.

Growth Hormone Replacement in Healthy Older Men Improves Body Composition but Not Functional Ability

This study looked at 52 healthy men older than 69 years old (70-85 with a mean of 75). Treatment included growth hormone (0.03 mg/kg of body weight) or a placebo given three times a week for six months.

From the study’s Conclusions section:

Physiologic doses of growth hormone given for 6 months to healthy older men with well-preserved functional abilities increased lean tissue mass and decreased fat mass. Although body composition improved with growth hormone use, functional ability did not improve. Side effects occurred frequently.

From the study’s Results section:

At 6 months, lean mass had increased on average by 4.3% in the growth hormone group and had decreased by 0.1% in the placebo group, a difference of 4.4 percentage points (95% CI, 2.1 to 6.8 percentage points). Fat mass decreased by an average of 13.1% in the growth hormone group and by 0.3% in the placebo group, a difference of 12.8 percentage points (CI, 8.6 to 17.0 percentage points). No statistically or clinically significant differences were seen between the groups in knee or hand grip strength or in systemic endurance.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Growth Hormone Replacement in Healthy Older Men Improves Body Composition but Not Functional Ability,HWELTR

Effects of Physiologic Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Density and Body Composition in Patients with Adult-Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency

From the study’s Conclusions section:

Growth hormone administered to men with adult-onset growth hormone deficiency at a dose adjusted according to serum IGF-1 levels increases bone density and stimulates bone turnover, decreases body fat and increases lean mass, and is associated with a low incidence of side effects.

From the study’s Results section:

Growth hormone therapy increased bone mineral density in the lumbar spine by a mean (±SD) of 5.1% ± 4.1% and bone mineral density in the femoral neck by 2.4% ± 3.5%. In the growth hormone group, significant increases were seen in the following markers of bone turnover: osteocalcin (4.4 ± 3.6 mg/L to 7.2 ± 4.6 mg/L) and urinary pyridinoline (39.0 ± 19.8 nmol/mmol of creatinine to 55.7 ± 25.5 nmol/mmol of creatinine) and deoxypyridinoline (8.4 ± 7.1 nmol/mmol of creatinine to 14.9 ± 9.4 nmol/mmol of creatinine). Percentage of body fat in the growth hormone group decreased (from 31.9% ± 6.5% to 28.3% ± 7.0%), and lean body mass increased (from 59.0 ± 8.5 kg to 61.5 ± 6.9 kg). These changes were significant compared with corresponding changes in the placebo group (P < 0.01 for all comparisons).
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

Effects of Physiologic Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Density and Body Composition in Patients with Adult-Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency

There are many more studies out there, but these studies indicate the potential for HGH as an anti-aging therapy.


Attitudes toward HGH range from extreme exuberance to total skepticism. When you throw in all of the fraudulent products, the HGH waters get extremely murky and difficult to navigate. This profile focuses on reconciling the various claims and coming up with a rational picture of HGH, its risks and benefits. HGH deserves a closer look because of its potential in anti-aging therapy, but there are risks and many complexities to consider. You must do what is right for your individual needs. You should work with a qualified physician to work out a therapy program suited for your personal needs.


Finding unbiased and useful information about HGH is extremely difficult. Compiled below is a short list of resources for more information. These are not exactly unbiased resources, but much of the information on these sites is accurate and useful.

Wikipedia Article on HGH

Shouldn’t Adults with Growth Hormone Deficiency Be Offered Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Annals of Internal Medicine 6 August 2002 | Volume 137 Issue 3 | Pages 197-201

This is an excellent overview of HGH replacement therapy by David M. Cook, MD. It reports on the various benefits and side effects of HGH and sites several studies involving HGH therapy. (

This is a site set up by several prominent synthetic HGH manufacturers, though they don’t say so on the site. Somatropin is another name for HGH. This is an excellent resource, but their rather short list of potential HGH side effects is rather suspect. They also tout the benefits of HGH for weight loss, body building and anti-aging. None of these are FDA-approved uses for HGH even if they are true. Be aware that, since this is an industry site, information here may not be the most unbiased.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (

This group claims membership of 11,500 physicians and scientists from 65 different countries. This site has many good articles on HGH and anti-aging topics in general.

There are many articles on their site related to HGH. Be aware that they do endorse the use of HGH for anti-aging benefit and may not always be the most unbiased resource.


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