The hormone that controls the growth of your body, human growth hormone (GH), is a substance called. The pituitary gland is located at the base the brain and makes GH. GH is a hormone that helps children grow taller (also known as linear growth), increases muscle mass and decreases body weight.
Both children and adults can also benefit from GH. This is the process whereby cells convert food into energy and produce other substances.
Children and adults who have too much or too low GH may be at risk of developing health problems. Synthetic (manufactured GH) can treat growth hormone deficiency (too much GH) or other health issues. Sometimes, GH can be illegally used for non-medical reasons.
What is growth hormone therapy?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Source has approved GH treatment to treat certain conditions. GH can only be obtained by prescription and is injected. When used according to FDA-approved conditions, synthetic GH appears safe and effective.
GH is used in children to treat:
- Growth hormone deficiencies
- Short stature refers to being shorter than other children your age, such as Turner syndrome, chronic kidney disease, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Turner syndrome.
Adults use GH to treat:
- Growth hormone deficiencies
- HIV infection can cause muscle wasting (loss or deterioration of muscle tissue).
- Short bowel syndrome
GROWTH HORMONE SOLD – WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION
Some companies sell human GH tablets or GH releasers. They claim that these pills are “anti-aging”. These substances are not proven to increase GH production or fight aging, increase muscle mass, or provide any other benefits. Because GH is inactivated during digestion, it loses its effect and is no longer effective when taken as a pill.
These uses are not the only ones. Doctors outside and a few within the U.S. may also prescribe GH to treat other health issues. Off-label use is when doctors prescribe medication for conditions not approved by the FDA.
Talk to a doctor if you are concerned about GH deficiency within yourself or a loved one.
Does growth hormone use make sense for healthy adults?
There have been conflicting results from studies of healthy adults who took GH. Studies that looked at older adults showed an increase in endurance and strength. They also had a greater muscle mass and less fat. Other studies have not shown similar results. To fully understand the risks and benefits of GH in healthy adults, more research is needed.
It is illegal to prescribe or use GH off-label in the US, except for its use in research studies. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help adults achieve better health and body composition.
What is the abuse of growth hormone?
Some people illegally take GH to reverse or stop the effects of aging and to increase their athletic performance. Many athletes take GH along with anabolic steroids to increase muscle and strength, as they believe that GH alone won’t achieve the desired results.
Insulin is also used by some athletes to increase the muscle effects of GH. This is dangerous because it lowers blood sugar.
What are the potential risks associated with growth hormone abuse?
Side effects of GH can be dangerous. Short-term side effects include joint and muscle pain, fluid buildup, swelling, and swelling. People may become infected with HIV, AIDS or hepatitis if GH is injected using shared needles. High doses of GH for a prolonged period of time can lead to heart disease.
Illegally sold GH may contain potentially dangerous ingredients. People who take GH derived directly from human tissue could develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a deadly brain disease similar to mad cow diseases.
Benefits of human growth hormone
GH can be purchased as a prescription drug and is administered via injection. GH is recommended for children and adults with GH deficiency or those with very short statures. It can also be used to treat adult GH deficiencies — a rare condition that almost always occurs in association with major hypothalamus or pituitary problems, or both. Adult GH deficiency is diagnosed using special tests that stimulate GH. Simple blood tests can be misleading and are ineffective at best.
GH injections are beneficial for adults with GH deficiencies. They are protected from fractures and have a higher level of muscle mass, energy, and exercise capacity. There is also a lower risk of developing future heart disease. There is a cost to this. Side effects include fluid retention, joint pain, muscle and joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on a nerve in the wrist that causes hand pain and numbness), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
How does growth hormone get controlled?
The growth hormone is released in bursts or pulses. It is not continuous. Two other hormones are also released from the hypothalamus. This part of the brain plays a crucial role in controlling many bodily functions, including hormone release from the pituitary, which stimulates pituitary gland to release growth hormone.
Low blood glucose and stress can increase growth hormone levels. They increase during puberty. The brain can sense high levels of insulin-like growth factors or growth hormones in the blood and reduce growth hormone release during pregnancy.
Ask your doctor questions
- Are you or your child a candidate for human growth hormone treatment?
- What are the risks and benefits of growth hormone treatment?
- What are the symptoms of growth hormone abuse?
- Do I need to see an endocrinologist regarding my condition?