What is human growth hormone or HGH?
Human growth hormone (HGH – human growth hormone) is a natural hormone generated in the pituitary gland and transported into the blood. Its primary role is to stimulate growth in children, while in adults (males and females), it helps maintain typical body composition and structure. Also, it is one of the crucial factors for proper metabolism in people of all ages – from birth to the very end of life.
Human growth hormone is also known by the abbreviation HGH, but also by the name somatotropin. As we have already mentioned, it is an entirely natural hormone that affects many body parts. To illustrate how it works in the body, we will try to describe the action of somatotropin: imagine bone cells that join together and multiply. That is possible up to specific values when HGH no longer increases the body’s height (that is, the dimensions of the bones and, therefore, the muscles and other organs). Then a logical question arises: does the body still need HGH? The answer is – yes! After the growth cycle, HGH helps maintain standard body structure and proper metabolism, including keeping blood sugar levels in the optimal range.
Now, you may be wondering what hormones are? These “chemicals” manage various functions in the human body, transmitting specific messages through the blood to the final destination – to the internal organs, muscles, and other tissues. These impulses give information to the body about how to behave. Then, what to do and when it needs to complete a task. The body constantly produces more than 50 hormones, and many interact with each other, we could say with joint forces. It is a highly complex network of processes without which the human body could not survive and function.
Where is HGH generated?
The pituitary gland – is a small endocrine gland, the size of a pea. It is located at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus. It consists of two lobes, front, and back. Growth hormone is generated in one of the anteriors.
The pituitary gland is directly connected to the hypothalamus through blood vessels and nerves, and this connection is called the pituitary stalk. It is essential to state that the hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls critical, vital functions such as blood pressure, work and heart rate, body temperature, and digestion of food in the stomach and the entire digestive tract.
Through the pituitary stalk, the hypothalamus directly communicates with the pituitary gland and instructs it to release certain hormones into the bloodstream. In this case, the hypothalamus releases growth hormone or somatostatin, inhibiting that release depending on the organism’s current needs.
Doctors often use synthetic forms of this hormone (also known as recombinant HGH) to treat certain health conditions, including those caused by a lack of natural HGH. A detail that should be emphasized is that HGH should never be taken without the express recommendation of a specialist!
What triggers human growth hormone (HGH)?
The human pituitary gland works on the principle of a pump and releases HGH into the bloodstream impulsively – in short bursts during the day. When and to what extent HGH will be produced and delivered through the bloodstream is controlled by two hormones from the hypothalamus – growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin, which stops the production of growth hormone. Therefore, the organism precisely doses when and how much hormone it will produce and send to its final destination.
The amount and concentration of the HGH hormone are regulated by insulin-like growth factor 1 (also called IGF-1). IGF-1 is a suppressor, and thyroxine, glucocorticoids, and ghrelin are human growth hormone release stimulators.
Regarding IGF-1, it should be noted that it is created and released in the liver. This hormone plays a crucial role in preventing (inhibiting) the release of HGH, through a negative feedback system, when it stimulates the creation and distribution of the primary inhibitor – somatostatin.
In healthy people, the release of HGH is blocked in case of elevated blood sugar levels (the professional name for this condition is hyperglycemia). At the same time, it is stimulated by sleep (that’s why children are told that if they sleep well and for a long time, it will increase); then, in case of stress, during physical activities, when the blood sugar level is low (hypoglycemia) and with the help of amino acids.
What is the primary function of HGH?
Human growth hormone has two main functions: the first is to stimulate growth, and the second is to regulate metabolism. Metabolism, let’s also mention that, is the process of transforming the ingested food into energy that the body can use.
HGH and growth
Human growth hormone enables and conditions the growth of almost every tissue and organ. However, this hormone is most important for stimulating cartilage growth and bones, especially during puberty and adolescence. Chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells) respond to HGH impulses and increase replication, which ultimately increases cartilage and bone dimensions in the human body.
This hormone has the function of inhibiting growth until the growth plates in the bones fuse. After that, HGH no longer affects the increase in the height of the human body. Then, its essential function becomes to maintain standard body structure until the end of life.
HGH and metabolism
Metabolism is a series of chemical reactions in the human body. They enable the food you have taken to be converted into energy suitable for “fuel” that the body, that is, every cell in it, uses for normal functioning. Several complex chemical processes are involved in metabolism.
HGH affects the metabolism by increasing the genesis of growth factor-1 (IGF-1, similar to insulin) and its effect on every cell in the body. Recall that insulin is an essential hormone produced by the pancreas. Its primary role is to regulate blood glucose and maintain its value at optimal values.
When a person is healthy, the body regulates the glucose level in the blood precisely. Glucose (or sugar) in the blood is one of the basic building materials. You supply your body with glucose by consuming foods rich in carbohydrates. Glucose is, therefore, an essential source of energy that ensures the supply of nutrients to organs, muscles, and the entire nervous system.
What happens if the HGH level is not under control? When its level is low, it increases the sugar level in the blood, and when there is more HGH in the blood than it should be, it opposes the effects of insulin, which leads to an increased sugar level (glucose) in the blood.
Uses and benefits
Synthetic HGH is used in cases where children do not grow at an average pace but also for specific situations in adults. Tests have shown that this hormone can be used to treat patients with short bowel syndrome or loss of muscle mass caused by HIV or the disease that develops from it – AIDS.
Growth can be affected by certain medical conditions, among which the following should be singled out:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Premature babies
- People with Prader-Willi syndrome
- Lack of HGH
- Turner syndrome
- HGH resulting from a pituitary tumor
- Muscle wasting disease
The lack of this hormone is compensated, mainly through injections, and in medicine, it is used in cases where it is desired to affect:
- Increasing training potential
- Increasing bone density
- Building muscle mass
- Fat reduction
Due to this hormone’s advantages, it is especially popular with people who want to improve their physical abilities – with bodybuilders, athletes, and the like. From time to time, HGH is combined with anabolic steroids, resulting in a significant increase in muscle mass and improved endurance during physical efforts.
Some are convinced that HGH has positive anti-aging effects, and that is because the natural level of HGH decreases over time. Also, there are claims that HGH raises testosterone, the male sex hormone. However, it should be noted that these are only speculations that have not been scientifically confirmed, and one should not experiment with hormonal therapies.
If experts, or doctors, conclude that it is necessary to apply hormone therapy using HGH, it is injected into the patient intramuscularly (IM) or subcutaneously (under the skin).
What should be paid special attention to is that certain companies offer HGH and substances that stimulate the genesis of this hormone as dietary supplements. Many also contain amino acids, but the positive effect of these products has not been scientifically proven. So – be careful what you use!
Consequences of using HGH
HGH helps maintain, build and regenerate healthy tissue in the brain and other organs. Also, it helps to accelerate the healing of wounds after injuries and restores the muscles after great physical efforts. This process builds and increases muscle mass, speeds up metabolism, and burns fat and fatty deposits.
HGH inhibits metabolic processes and stimulates the liver to generate insulin-like proteins. As we have already mentioned, this is very important for the growth of bones and internal organs and the synthesis of muscle proteins.
For medical purposes, HGH is available in synthetic form. Of course, as with any other medication, it has risks, and you should consult with your doctor before using it.
How is HGH deficiency manifested?
Growth hormone deficiency, or GHD, is known as dwarfism or pituitary dwarfism. It is a condition caused by an insufficient level of this hormone in the human body. Children with a deficiency of this hormone have deficient growth and completely normal body proportions. GHD can be congenital or acquired.
Such a condition occurs if the pituitary gland does not produce enough of this hormone. That can result from genetic anomalies, brain injury, or if the child is born without a pituitary gland. Sometimes there is no apparent cause for this. Depending on the case, GHD can be associated with low levels of other hormones. Among them, we should mention vasopressin (responsible for controlling the production of water in the body), gonadotropins (controlling the production of male and female sex hormones), and thyrotropins (regulating thyroid hormones) or adrenocorticotrophic hormone (controlling the adrenal gland and hormones related to it).
Symptoms of HGH deficiency
Each inter residue of certain substances in the body has its symptoms. In the case of growth hormone deficiency, these are:
- Slow growth or its complete absence
- Low growth
- Absence or delayed development of sexuality during puberty
Symptoms of other pituitary hormone deficiencies that may occur at the same time as growth hormone deficiency:
- Absent or delayed sexual development during puberty
- Increased urge and excessive urination
- Unbridled thirst
- Facial abnormalities
What does HGH do for women?
A decrease in the amount of HGH in women can lead to many side effects, especially as the years go by. Women can have more significant problems as they age, including increased body mass. In such and similar cases, hormone therapy is applied, which results in many physical, mental, and emotional improvements over time.
As a non-invasive treatment for this hormone deficiency, it can help a woman feel good and feminine again. Women are usually given hormonal injections. With Sermorelin, the hormones are taken daily. When the first positive results appear, Sermorelin can be removed from the therapy, or its application can be reduced. The effects of therapy include:
- Reduction of body mass and cellulite
- Better mood
- An increase in energy
- Increase in libido
- Better sleep
- Better memory and mental clarity
The treatment works by stimulating the pituitary gland, producing more HGH. Sermorelin is thus naturally generated, unlike synthetic HGH therapy. It is the best treatment for your body.
The role of testosterone in men
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone that regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. When testosterone levels drop, hypogonadism or infertility can occur. However, there are ways to bring testosterone levels within natural limits. What does testosterone do, and should men worry about declining hormone levels as they age?
Women also produce testosterone, usually in smaller amounts. It is a type of androgen primarily created by the testicles in cells called Leydig cells. In men, testosterone is thought to regulate many functions in addition to sperm production. That implies:
- Sexual drive
- The amount of bone mass
- Fat distribution
- Muscle size and strength
- Production of red blood cells
Although it is a male sex hormone, testosterone also contributes to sex drive, bone density, and muscle strength in women. However, excess testosterone can also cause women to suffer from baldness and infertility. The brain and pituitary gland control testosterone levels, so this hormone moves through the blood and performs various essential bodily functions.
The first steps in diagnosing HGH deficiency include a physical examination and measuring height, body weight, and arm and leg length. That is followed by blood tests and measurement of growth hormone levels in the body and all other hormones.
Then, X-rays and MRI of the head are used. This diagnosis greatly helps narrow down the underlying cause of GHD and helps detect hypothalamic or pituitary disorders.
Some cases of GHD can be treated with synthetic growth hormones, but only under the supervision of a pediatric endocrinologist. If some other hormones have deficiencies, they can be given in parallel with the artificial growth hormone.