For centuries man has been searching for ways to become young again. Ponce Deleon searched for the fountain of youth. Later in history, snake oil salesmen peddled “magic cures” for ageing and other maladies. Today we have an abundance of marketing coming at us from the TV, radio, magazines and the internet claiming that there really is a “magic cure” for ageing. What is the magic cure that has captured the hopes of many adults today? Human Growth Hormone or HGH. Produced in the pituitary gland, HGH is one of the hormones responsible for our growth and development during our childhood and adolescent years. It is partially responsible for body composition, body fluids, bone and muscle growth, fat and sugar metabolism and some information suggests heart function. As we age, HGH production decreases and this has led to speculation by researchers that HGH can be used to slow or even reverse ageing.
In our efforts to stay healthy and fit, it can be tempting to take a shortcut now and then by trying some of the “miracle” products that are available today. And honestly, who hasn’t wanted to look lounger at one time or another? And there are some good products on the market today that can hide the effects of ageing. In the case of HGH though, there is very little evidence to back up the claim that it can slow down the effects of ageing.
Even with the lack of evidence there are some marketers that are promoting “imposter” HGH products claiming that they can reduce or even reverse the effects of ageing. These are available as sprays, tablets or drops that you place on your tongue and are sold over the counter, over the phone or online. Some of these products are marketed as HGH “releasers” that stimulate the pituitary gland to release more natural HGH. The Federal Trade Commission posted a consumer alert warning that products claiming to contain HGH or claiming to boost the bodies’ production of HGH and that; their products speed up weight loss, increase muscle mass, slow or reverse ageing or are a short cut to a healthy and fit life are “long on promise and short on proof.”
HGH is only legally available through prescription for the treatment of HGH deficiencies in children and adults and not for the natural reduction of HGH that occurs due to ageing and is administered by injection into the large muscle areas. HGH in pill or liquid form designed to be taken orally is digested before it can be absorbed and therefore is ineffective.
For adults that have growth hormone deficiency, HGH, when injected, can see increased bone density, decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and an increase in exercise capacity. For adults that don’t have a deficiency the side effects can include; swelling of the legs and arms, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle pain, joint pain and for men, an abnormal enlargement of breast tissue. HGH may also contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Today, the most common illicit use of HGH is in combination with performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids to increase athletic performance and muscle mass even though there the effect of HGH on performance is unknown. In addition, illicit HGH is often times counterfeit or impure and can lead to additional health risks as well as legal trouble if caught in possession of HGH without a prescription.
Even though the temptation to try HGH substitutes or releasers is very appealing, the actual benefits will more than likely be disappointing. The effect on your body may even be dangerous. So, the next time you see or hear an advertisement claiming that a pill, spray or drop can halt or reverse the effects of ageing, do the smart thing and talk to your doctor about the possible benefits and side effects that this “magic cure” can have on your goals to stay healthy and fit.