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The importance of human growth hormone (HGH)

Jump in the Fountain

You won’t get far without human growth hormone (HGH).

This key hormone (also known as somatotropin) is essential for maintaining proper brain function, energy levels, bone tissue and muscle mass, cell division, the repair of DNA within cells, and overall metabolism.

The problem is, your pituitary gland releases HGH into the blood stream less efficiently as you grow older. So with HGH diminishing yearly, boosting HGH with supplements might seem like an attractive solution. But as we’ve seen before, when you start tinkering with hormones, the results can be mixed, and almost always accompanied by controversy.

Fortunately, there are natural ways to help keep your HGH level from dropping like a lead balloon after the age of 50.

FTC cat out of the bag

I recently received an e-mail from an HSI member named Elizabeth with this question: “There have been some warnings in the press lately about HGH. I would like to know more about the health effects of non-prescription sprays (e.g., Regenesis) on insulin resistance and tumor growth.”

Elizabeth’s caution is understandable. If you research HGH, you’ll find plenty of warnings about HGH supplements, as well as quite a few sales pitches promising a “fountain of youth” solution to a wide variety of health problems.

In fact, just last month a federal court issued an order against a Florida man who was accused of making questionable health claims while selling HGH supplements through illegal e-mail spamming. The Federal Trade Commission accused the alleged spammer of offering products that, “do not contain any form of Human Growth Hormone, and do not produce effects similar in nature to any form of Human Growth Hormone.”

I wonder if someone at the FDA did a spit-take when they heard that the FTC was, in a roundabout way, giving official government recognition to the effectiveness of HGH?

In any case, the Florida situation underlines the importance of checking and double-checking the validity of supplement manufacturers before making a purchase. Especially when dealing with something as important as a hormone supplement.

Plus and minus

To get back to Elizabeth’s specific question about “non- prescription sprays (e.g., Regenesis) on insulin resistance and tumor growth,” I’ll start with this important detail: Regenesis is a synthetic form of HGH that’s made by several manufacturers, and it’s taken by injection.

The fact that Regenesis is synthetic is troubling because no long- term studies have been conducted to explore possible side effects that might occur with years of use. On the plus side, Regenesis (just like real HGH) prompts the production of a chemical called insulinlike growth factor-1, which helps maintain intracellular communications and function.

But HGH supplementation also stimulates the turnover of the body’s cells. The fear is 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 HGH.

Start with the basics

When HGH is boosted with a supplement, the process bypasses the function of the pituitary gland – sort of tricking the body. But there’s a more natural way to prompt the pituitary gland to increase HGH production: Avoid simple and refined carbohydrates, which tend to 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 can also block the production and release of HGH, so it’s best to limit fat intake to 20-30 percent of your daily total calories. Additionally, many longevity experts advocate reduced calorie intake and even occasional fasting as a good way to stimulate HGH production. The highest levels of growth hormone are released during sleep and during a fast that lasts for at least 24 hours. (Note that fasting is not suitable for everyone, so always consult a physician or health care professional before attempting a fast.)

Regular exercise is also a good way to prompt an HGH increase. But for best results, don’t eat for at least two hours before exercising because elevated insulin levels may counteract the release of growth hormones.

In tomorrow’s e-Alert I’ll take a look at a way to supplement with HGH that doesn’t bypass the pituitary gland, but rather puts it to work.


“Federal Trade Commission vs. Creaghan A. Harry” Case No. 04C 4790, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division,
“Feds Freeze Assets, Halt Sales of HGH Product” Natural Products Industry Insider, 7/29/04,
“Grow Young with HGH” Dr. Ronald Klatz, Harpercollins, 1997

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