The growth hormones play a critical role in human development and remain important across the lifespan. Released mainly by the pituitary gland, growth hormones circulate throughout the body, affecting many processes. People can inject synthetic forms of growth hormones or increase their natural levels by behavioral means. Some herbs, for example, naturally enhance growth hormones. Yet this research remains preliminary, and you should consult your doctor before ingesting such herbs.
The herb Astragalus membranaceus is a perennial plant critical to Chinese traditional medicine also known as yellow leader. People use this supplement as a general tonic with positive roles in aging, immunity, and digestion.
A report by C. Kim and co-workers published in January 2003 edition of "Archives of Pharmacal Research" looked at the potential ability of Astragalus membranaceus to increase growth hormone. These scientists first identified four active ingredients from the herb. Those chemicals were then tested on rat pituitary glands maintained in culture. The data showed each substance stimulated the release of growth hormone. Such findings suggest that Astragalus membranaceus may increase growth hormones in humans. Yet results obtained in animal studies do not necessarily generalize, and the long-term safety of yellow leader remains unknown.
Southern European cultures have traditionally used Glycyrrhizae radix to treat mild lung conditions such as bronchitis. Commonly referred to as licorice root, the supplement has demulcent and expectorant properties, making it useful as a cough syrup. Glycyrrhizae radix may also bolster the immune system and help the body fight cancer.
A study by H. Y. Lee and associates presented in the November 2007 issue of "Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology" identified another potential benefit of Glycyrrhizae radix. The scientists first isolated several active ingredients in the root. They then tested those substances on cultured pituitary cells and in intact rats. In all cases, the components of Glycyrrhizae radix increased growth hormone production. These findings remain preliminary and unreplicated. Chronic use of licorice root may also cause unwanted side effects. Therefore, you should not take licorice root until more testing is done.
The yam Dioscorea batatas, found in the hilly regions of China, may have several medicinal properties. People use Chinese yams as a general cure and combine it with other traditional herbs, creating potent elixirs. The yam contains the steroid diosgenin, which affects the estrogen and progesterone systems. It can, for example, be an effective contraceptive.
Another study by H. Y. Lee and colleagues offered in the November 2007 issue of "Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology" assessed the impact of the Chinese yam on growth hormone in rats. These authors first isolated an active component from Dioscorea batatas. This substance, dioscin, was then applied onto rat pituitary cells and injected into live rats. Both protocols resulted in large increases in growth hormone production. Nutritional supplements made from intact yams may produce different results, especially in human subjects. In addition, no long-term experiment has properly assessed the safety and toxicy of Dioscorea batatas.
- "Archives of Pharmacal Research"; Induction of Growth Hormone by the Roots of Astragalus membranaceus in Pituitary Cell Culture; C. Kim et al.; January 2003
- Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Induction of Growth Hormone Release by Glycyrrhizae radix on Rat
- Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Induction of Growth Hormone Release by Dioscin from Dioscorea batatas DECNE