Human Growth Hormone, (HGH) has been used as therapy for children and teenagers with an HGH deficiency since the 1950’s. Its use for other conditions was limited at the time as it was taken directly from the Pituitary Gland. With synthetic HGH now widely available the scenario of GH treatment has been changed enormously. Currently there is ever increasing list of indications of GH treatment in children, adolescents, and adults.
Efforts began in the 1940’s to acquire pituitary GH for the treatment of GH-deficient children. The results of these efforts was the purification of Bovine GH by Li and Evans at the University of California, Berkeley, and Fishman at Yale. Purified Porcine GH was achieved by Raben and Westermeyer, at Tufts, however these discoveries failed to show any significant biochemical or metabolic activity as GH is species specific. In 1956 HGH was isolated from the Pituitary Gland by both Li and Papkoff, in California, and Raben, in Massachusetts, however its biochemical structure was not elucidated until 1972. In 1960 evidence of the benefits of HGH therapy for children and adolescents with a GH deficiency became clear. Between 1963 and 1985 the NPA supervised almost all the GH treatment in the United States. And during this period about 7700 children in the United States and 27,000 children worldwide were given GH extracted from human pituitary glands to treat severe Growth hormone deficiency.
HGH and Exercise:
Levels of HGH in the blood can increase 10‐fold during prolonged moderate exercise. For more intense exercise where the build- up of lactate is at 70% Vo2 max for a short period of 10–20 minutes HGH will increase by 5–10‐fold. During short exercise durations, levels of GH will generally peak at 15–30 minutes after the exercise. It appears that HGH response is more closely related to the intensity of exercise rather than the total work duration.
HGH effects on the body:
The secretion of HGH is regulated by two hypothalamic peptides, growth hormone releasing hormone, which stimulates HGH secretion, and Somatostatin, which inhibits HGH secretion by back regulation. HGH exerts its biological effects on target cells by binding to specific receptors present throughout the whole body.
Women have slightly higher levels of HGH secretion then men, the highest levels happening during puberty. Over time secretion of HGH reduces at an estimated rate of 14% per decade. HGH levels are higher during slow wave sleep and are increased by exercise, stress, fever, fasting and, with some amino acids (leucine and arginine).
HGH and performance enhancement:
HGH has been used as a performance enhancing drug since the late 1980’s. Bodybuilders and strength athletes use it to speed up recovery and to increase size and strength of the muscles. HGH is efficient, hard to detect, and without major side effects if well dosed. The positive effects of HGH deficient adults are not that clear among athletes. This could be since athletes who use HGH will use it along side other performance enhancing drugs as part of a stack. Also, these athletes will probably be using higher doses then a Doctor would prescribe. HGH use is gaining acceptance in endurance sport in combination with methods for enhancing oxygen transport. Although there are anecdotal reports on the so‐called dramatic increases in muscle mass and strength after large doses of HGH (especially among bodybuilders) their effectiveness under controlled conditions is generally less impressive.
Negative side effects of HGH:
Long term risks of HGH use are currently unknown since epidemiological data regarding this type of treatment in healthy sportsmen are unavailable. Acromegaly, which results from a pathological increase in endogenous production of GH, is often cited as one of the major risks associated with excessive use of HGH. The major symptoms are swelling of the hands and feet, coarsened facial appearance, dentition problems, arthralgias, fluid retention, and excessive sweating. Diabetes Mellitus and hypertension that can lead to early death from cardiovascular diseases is also a risk for people who have Acromegaly.
HGH is taken by injection so HIV and Hepatitis could be a risk if the needle is not sterile.
Medical uses for HGH in children:
Growth hormone deficiency (1985)
Chronic renal insufficiency (1993)
Turner syndrome (1997)
Prader–Willi syndrome (2000)
Small for gestational age (2001)
Idiopathic short stature (2003)
Short stature homeobox-containing gene deficiency (2006)
Noonan syndrome (2007)