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Human Growth Hormone

Common Name(s): Human growth hormone

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 1, 2019.

Clinical Overview

Use

Published literature documents numerous animal and human studies evaluating use of human growth hormone, primarily for its metabolic benefits. Human growth hormone has been used to increase energy and improve mood, to increase lean body mass and muscle mass, and for its antiaging effects, although there is limited evidence to support these uses.

Dosing

Several capsules of various homeopathic formulations administered daily have helped improve energy and mood; however, data are lacking to provide specific dosing recommendations.

Contraindications

Hypersensitivity to any of the components of human growth hormone.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation are lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Dose-dependent adverse effects include fluid retention, carpal tunnel syndrome, and gynecomastia. Soft tissue edema has commonly occurred in women treated with human growth hormone and is not dose related. Increased concentrations of glucose and insulin have also been documented.

Toxicology

No data.

Source

The biological source for active human growth hormone is human pituitary glands.1, 2

History

The first report of human growth hormone use for treatment of short stature or growth hormone deficiency was in 1958. Early growth hormone preparations were derived or extracted from human cadaver pituitaries for therapeutic use. The biochemical structure was determined in 1972. Production of some early preparations was discontinued due to the potential increased risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an incurable, often fatal neurodegenerative condition. In 1985, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the commercial use of a recombinant human growth hormone product. Commercial preparations now have the identical 191 amino acid sequence of native human pituitary hormone.1, 2, 3 Human growth hormone injection is FDA-approved for long-term use in the treatment of children with growth failure. However, homeopathic formulations of human growth hormone have not been evaluated for this use.

Chemistry

Human growth hormone is a single polypeptide chain of 191 amino acid residues and 2 disulfide bridges. Chemical dictionaries document the percentage composition as carbon 53.74%, hydrogen 6.96%, nitrogen 16.59%, oxygen 21.69%, and sulfur 1.01%.

Uses and Pharmacology

Published literature documents numerous animal and human studies evaluating use of human growth hormone, primarily for its metabolic benefits. Only select clinical trials will be evaluated due to the volume of available studies.

Antiaging effects

Aging is related to changes in overall body composition and metabolism, and to a reduction in growth hormone plasma levels. In a few short-term studies, age-related changes in body composition and metabolism were reversed or decreased by supplementation with human growth hormone.4, 5

In a meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled trials of patients treated with human growth hormone, small changes in overall body composition and decreases in total cholesterol levels were observed. No changes in bone density and other serum lipid levels were reported. Due to an increased rate of adverse events, human growth hormone could not be recommended for antiaging purposes. Adverse events with human growth hormone included soft tissue edema, arthralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, gynecomastia, onset of diabetes mellitus, and impaired fasting glucose.6

Somatopause is associated with age-related declines in human growth hormone production and secretion, growth hormone–binding protein, and insulinlike growth factor. Age-related changes are linked to these anabolic hormones. Additional, limited clinical studies are still investigating the antiaging benefits versus risks of human growth hormone supplementation.7

Athletic performance

Lean body tissue is thought to be preserved by human growth hormone supplementation. Professional athletes seeking improved performance and recovery from injury have used human growth hormone for its anabolic and lipolytic activity. In a meta-analysis of nearly 7,600 studies, 44 met inclusion criteria for evaluation of muscle performance outcomes. Overall, the results showed that athletic performance was not improved by human growth hormone supplementation. While the available limited evidence suggests that human growth hormone increases lean body tissue, it may not improve strength.8

A short-term study involving experienced weight lifters administered human growth hormone documented no increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis and no reduction in body protein breakdown.9 Some studies suggest that human growth hormone supplementation may actually reduce exercise capacity,8 while others suggest that human growth hormone may improve energy supply (anaerobic performance) and thus enhance exercise capacity.8, 10, 11 Although increases in lean body mass have been observed following supplementation with human growth hormone, it is likely that fluid retention, rather than increased muscle mass, contributes to the increase.10 In one study, human growth hormone treatment resulted in statistically significant improvements in sprint capacity compared with placebo.11

Dosing

Several capsules of various homeopathic formulations administered daily have helped improve energy and mood; however, data are lacking to provide specific dosing recommendations.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

Theoretically, glucocorticoids may interact with human growth hormone therapy and inhibit growth promotion. Some evidence exists regarding decreased clearance of sedative medications12 and increased clearance of pain medications.13

Adverse Reactions

A number of adverse effects have been documented.14, 15 Dose-dependent adverse effects include fluid retention, carpal tunnel syndrome, and gynecomastia. Soft tissue edema has commonly occurred in women treated with human growth hormone and is not dose related. Fluid retention appears to be related to human growth hormone's action on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and spironolactone are effective in reversing the fluid retention. Increased concentrations of glucose and insulin concentrations have also been documented.4

Toxicology

No data. Caution is warranted with homeopathic products because many supplements contain ingredients to stimulate endogenous growth hormone production.

References

1. Kemp SF, Frindik JP. Emerging options in growth hormone therapy: an update.Drug Des Devel Ther. 2011;5:411-419.21966214
2. Franklin SL, Geffner ME. Growth hormone: the expansion of available products and indications. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2011;58(5):1141-1165.21981953
3. Allen DB. Clinical review: Lessons learned from the hGH era. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(10):3042-3047.21865374
4. Giordano R, Bonelli L, Marinazzo E, Ghigo E, Arvat E. Growth hormone treatment in human ageing: benefits and risks. Hormones (Athens). 2008;7(2):133-139.18477550
5. Bartke A. Growth hormone and aging: a challenging controversy. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(4):659-665.19281058
6. Liu H, Bravata DM, Olkin I, et al. Systematic review: the safety and efficacy of growth hormone in the healthy elderly. Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(2):104-115.17227934
7. Sattler FR. Growth hormone in the aging male. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;27(4):541-555.24054930
8. Liu H, Bravata DM, Olkin I, et al. Systematic review: the effects of growth hormone on athletic performance. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(10):747-758.18347346
9. Yarasheski KE, Zachweija JJ, Angelopoulos TJ, Bier DM. Short-term growthhormone treatment does not increase muscle protein synthesis in experienced weight lifters. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1993;74(6):3073-3076.8366011
10. Birzniece V, Nelson AE, Ho KK. Growth hormone administration: is it safe and effective for athletic performance. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010;39(1):11-23, vii.20122446
11. Meinhardt U, Nelson AE, Hansen JL, et al. The effects of growth hormone on body composition and physical performance in recreational athletes: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(9):568-577.20439575
12. Redmond GP, Bell JJ, Nichola PS, Perel JM. Effect of growth hormone on human drug metabolism: time course and substrate specificity. Pediatr Pharmacol (New York). 1980;1(1):63-70.7346733
13. Rasmussen E, Eriksson B, Oberg K, Bondesson U, Rane A. Selective effects of somatostatin analogs on human drug-metabolizing enzymes. Clin Pharmacol Ther.1998;64(2):150-159.9728895
14. Quigley CA, Gill AM, Crowe BJ, et al. Safety of growth hormone treatment in pediatric patients with idiopathic short stature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005;90(9):5188-5196.15899952
15. Luzuriaga Tomás C, Oyarzabal Irigoyen M, Caveda Cepas E, Vázquez Salvi LA,García-Pérez LE; el grupo de investigadores españoles del estudio GeNeSIS. Safety and efficacy of growth hormone treatment: GeNeSIS study in Spain. An Pediatr (Barc). 2016;84(3):139-147.26139238

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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