“Is HGH (human growth hormone) considered to be a steroid? Is there any reason a 56-year-old woman should not take it?”
Here are two quick answers to those questions posed by A.B., an HSI member:
Lawmakers in some states have grouped synthetic supplements of HGH with steroids and given them the stigma of controlled substances. But as the name implies, HGH is a hormone, which means any use of synthetic HGH supplements should be embarked on with great care.
Fortunately, there are safe, natural ways to help keep your HGH level from dropping off steeply after the age of 50.
Bursting with energy
First, some HGH basics: You’ve probably seen young kids running around and thought, “Where do they get all that energy?” Part of the answer is HGH.
An abundance of HGH is produced by the pituitary gland when we’re very young. This growth hormone plays a significant role in energy production, muscle and tissue growth, brain function, bone strength, metabolic development, intracellular communication and healing capacity – obviously, a key factor in our physical and mental lives.
As we grow older the pituitary gland releases HGH into the blood stream less efficiently. By the time we reach our late 50s, HGH levels may be reduced as much as 75 percent. So with HGH diminishing yearly, boosting levels with synthetic supplements might seem like an attractive solution. But as we’ve seen before, when you start tinkering with hormones the results can be mixed.
HGH is a complex hormone of 191 amino acids, so it can only be taken by intravenous injection, administered by the prescribing doctor. And it’s not inexpensive. An annual supply of HGH supplements can run as high as $20,000. Insurance plans won’t cover this because it’s not a treatment for a disease.
In addition, no one has conducted any long-term studies of HGH side effects. HGH supplementation stimulates the turnover of the body’s cells, so there’s a concern that this process could disarm the mechanism by which the body prevents the uncontrolled cell division that allows tumors to form. Some studies have observed an increase in cancerous tumor growth with the use of synthetic HGH.
Another way to go
When HGH is boosted with a synthetic replacement, the process bypasses the function of the pituitary gland – sort of tricking the body. A more natural alternative is available with the use of supplements that stimulate the pituitary gland to do its stuff.
HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., explains: “The idea with the pituitary stimulants is that it’s safer to stimulate the body to increase its own production than to supply the actual hormone from outside the body, and I agree with this assessment. In the case of outside (exogenous) intake of growth hormone, you run the risk (well proven in past research) of what’s called ‘feedback inhibition,’ where the body will cut back on its own production since you’re willing to supply the body with the hormone from the outside without it having to bother. With pituitary stimulants, the body’s doing the producing, so there’s no feedback inhibition.”
In the October 1998 HSI Members Alert we first told you about a formula of natural compounds (including specific amino acids, proteins, and botanical extracts) designed to stimulate receptors in the pituitary and hypothalamus glands that prompt the release of available stores of HGH.
The formula, called Symbiotropin Pro-HGH, has since been shown to be several times more effective than the far more expensive HGH injections, but with zero feedback inhibition. And according to a study (sent to me last year by HSI Medical Advisor Martin Milner, N.D.), Pro-HGH was shown to significantly improve quality of life scores in middle-aged subjects. Dr. Milner has posted more information about Symbiotropin Pro-HGH for our members on his clinic’s website at cnm-inc.com.
There’s one other natural way to prompt the pituitary gland to increase HGH production: Avoid the simple and refined carbohydrates that boost insulin levels.
Foods like pasta, potatoes, and refined sweets register high on the glycemic index because they cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which stimulates the production of insulin. When there’s too much insulin in your blood, your body reacts by producing a chemical called somatostatin that suppresses insulin release. But it also suppresses HGH release.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates – and low on the glycemic index – don’t trigger blood sugar spikes. These foods include beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Nuts and seeds also contain an amino acid combination favorable to the production of growth hormone.
Excess dietary fat may also block the production and release of HGH, so limiting fat intake to 20-30 percent of your daily total calories may help the cause. Additionally, many longevity experts advocate reduced calorie intake and even occasional fasting as a good way to stimulate HGH production. (Note that fasting is not suitable for everyone, so always consult a physician or healthcare professional before attempting a fast.) The highest levels of growth hormone are released during sleep and during a fast that lasts for at least 24 hours.