Human Growth Hormone which is also known as somatotropin or HGH for short, is a small protein which is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. The hormone which acts by binding to receptor throughout the body has many effects, including stimulating cellular growth, reproduction, and repair.
Human growth hormone’s other effects include:
- Binding to fat cells and stimulating them to breakdown
- Stimulating the liver to produces insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which in turn stimulates bone growth, muscle growth, and differentiation, and protein synthesis in muscles and other tissue.
The hormone is secreted in bursts and the amounts peak during childhood then it slowly declines as you age. It’s levels also rise during various activities specifically after exercise, after fasting, during sleep, and in times of trauma. Growth hormone also gets released when taking different supplements such as GABA and Beta-Alanine.
In 1985, a form of HGH was approved by the FDA for people suffering from a variety of diseases including growth deficiency and muscle wasting from HIV/AIDS. Not too long after, companies began creating a synthetic version of the hormone which many people started using as a means to “bulk up.”
Extremely popular in the bodybuilding and athletic world, where some call it a “miracle drug,” this hormone has proven to help with building muscles. The process of building muscle is dependent on a number of factors, and the human is shown to affect the process by:
Having a quicker recovery time
Numerous studies have linked regeneration and increased recovery time to people who have higher rates of circulating growth hormone. This is due to its anabolic effects. Recovery time is crucial because it allows for the repair and strengthening of the muscle. The faster that it occurs, the faster you build muscle.
Promoting muscle growth
Human growth hormone as explained earlier indirectly promotes muscle growth by releasing IGF-1 which promotes protein synthesis and muscle differentiation. One study found that after athletes received the hormone for 20 days, they packed on an average of 5 pounds of lean muscle.
Increasing fat loss
Through the stimulation of IGF-1, human growth hormone accelerates lipolysis (the breakdown of fats). A study of growth hormone treatment in obese patients showed that there was a 1.6-fold increase in weight loss, specifically visceral fat. While fat loss plays no role in building muscle, it does help when trying to define certain muscle groups.
Apart from building muscle, human growth hormone has a few metabolic effects. While it has not been proven, HGH has been rumored to be able to:
- Increase muscle strength
- Increase the rate of fracture healing
- Increasing cognitive function
There is no doubt that human growth hormone has its benefits, but there are also some cons associated with taking it, specifically the synthetic variant.
Proper care should always be considered when taking any supplements, and detailed research should also be a priority.
With that being said, human growth hormone will continue to be one of the hormones that both the scientific community and the general public pay close attention to. There are even GH releasing natural supplements on the market.