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Does human growth hormone (HGH) slow down the aging process?

Is human growth hormone the "fountain of youth" that some are saying it is? Before you make the decision to find out for yourself, here are a few facts that you should know.

Where and why is human growth hormone made?

The pituitary gland is where growth hormone is produced. Considering the powerful stuff it makes, the pituitary is only about the size of a garbanzo bean (chickpea), and is located at the bottom (base) of the brain near the brainstem.

Growth hormone is essential at the beginning of our lives because it spurs our growth during childhood. As we age it also helps our bodies to maintain themselves, including all of the major organs and tissues like the heart, liver, skin, joints and so forth.

Beginning around 40 years of age however, the amount of growth hormone that the pituitary gland produces starts to decrease automatically and naturally. This is simply part of the aging process.

Should you be skeptical?

Since scientists discovered growth hormone, there have been a growing number of them, as well as doctors and others, who have theorized that HGH might slow down the aging process. In fact, many will tell you that yes, it does indeed do that.

They theorize that a person using synthetic HGH can slow down or even stop the aging process (for a limited time) and the changes it causes, including decreased bone mass, loss of muscle, loss of strength, decreased libido and other age-related issues.

Just like some were skeptical when Ponce de Leon set out to find the fountain of youth, it's good to be skeptical about HGH. That's because there is very little evidence proving that HGH can do anything to help a normal, healthy adult stay younger and/or retain their vitality. The truth is, there are a growing number of experts who recommend against using HGH in the treatment maladies or conditions that arerelated to age or aging if the person is healthy.

Are there any reasons to use HGH?

There are some people who, for medical reasons, don’t produce the correct amount of HGH on their own (before the normal decrease occurs). For these people the use of synthetic HGH is definitely an option.

It’s a rare occurrence, to be sure, and is oftentimes caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland that doctors call a pituitary adenoma. A decrease in HGH production can also be the result of radiation treatments for a pituitary adenoma.

Patients who are suffering from the muscle wasting caused by AIDS and/or HIV can also have a severely reduced amount of HGH being produced.

In these cases, treatments with HGH can have positive benefits, including:

  • An increase in the capacity to exercise
  • An increase in both bone density and muscle mass
  • A decrease in overall body fat
  • Help for those suffering from short bowel syndrome

Can HGH do anything for a healthy, normal adult?

Unfortunately there have been few studies with HGH in healthy adults, so information about results is limited. Scientists have seen that HGH can help to increase muscle mass in older adults and also help to reduce their body fat. On the other hand, it hasn't been shown whether these increases actually can help someone to become physically stronger and, at this point, there have been no other benefits shown from using HGH if a person is already healthy

What risks are there from using HGH if it isn't medically necessary?

Ironically, there is research that suggests that older adults who have taken HGH have a higher incidence of side effects then younger people. The side effects that have been recorded from healthy adults using HGH include:

  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Arm and leg swelling
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gynecomastia (swelling of the breast tissue in men)
  • As noted earlier, there have been few studies with HGH in healthy adults and the few that have been done have been short-term. That leaves many questions about the long-term effects of using HGH, and whether the side effects that it causes will either dissipate naturally on their own or, as time goes on, worsen.

Do HGH pills and homeopathic remedies have any value?

Normal treatment with HGH includes administering it by injection. There are however a number of online websites where HGH can be found and purchased in pill form. These websites claim that these pills produce the same results, but the fact is that these claims are unproven. The same can be said for homeopathic remedies being sold that supposedly contain HGH. No scientific proof has been put forth to show that either works.

Conclusion - Tread carefully

If you believe you are suffering from age related problems or illnesses you should definitely talk to your family doctor before making any decisions about using synthetic HGH in any form. Until more is known about the long-term effects of synthetic HGH, it should only be a medical option in cases where HGH production is abnormally low.

Keep in mind that, as you get older, making healthy lifestyle choices is going to become more important, including choosing the right foods and making sure that you get enough physical activity