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What Is the Difference Between HGH and DHEA?

author image Jessica Jacobs
Jessica Jacobs is a registered dietitian and professional writer, contributing to "Fitness Magazine" since 2003. She received a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University and an M.S. in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

Human growth hormone, or HGH, and dhydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA,are both hormones made by your body. They serve distinct functions though and have been the subject of controversy due to their use by athletes and individuals wanting to slow the aging process. Your body does not readily accept hormones introduced through supplementation, and taking hormone supplements, including HGH and DHEA, can cause serious health problems. You should, therefore, consult your doctor before taking an HGH or DHEA supplement.


Your pituitary gland, a small structure at the base of your brain, produces the HGH hormone. Your body uses HGH to build muscles and organ tissues. Your body produces a higher quantity of HGH during childhood and adolescence to promote growth. As you age, the amount of HGH produced by your body starts to decline. This decline may promote the visible signs of aging in your body. Therefore, manufacturers of HGH claim that injecting this hormone into your body can slow or even reverse many of the signs of aging. Available clinical evidence does not, however, support these anti-aging claims, as of the time of publication.

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Uses for HGH

Doctors commonly prescribe HGH for children who have abnormal growth rates. Doctors administer HGH to these children to stimulate children' natural HGH production. It is rare for adults to have a growth hormone deficiency, but doctors may prescribe HGH supplements to adults who have AIDS and certain types of cancers to prevent wasting syndrome, a disorder characterized by the wasting away of muscle tissue. HGH injections can increase your bone density, muscle mass, physical capacity and decrease your overall body fat.


Your adrenal glands that sit atop your kidneys produce DHEA. DHEA is an endogenous hormone made in your body used to produce both male and female sex hormones. DHEA production in your body peaks at around the age of 20 and declines as you age. Different physical ailments also can cause your body to produce less DHEA. Ailments that can reduce your DHEA levels include diabetes, AIDS, end stage kidney disease, coronary artery disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Uses of DHEA

DHEA has had several different applications. You can use DHEA to treat Addison's disease, lupus, osteoporosis and erectile dysfunction. Although DHEA has many several purported medical applications, clinical evidence does not support the use of DHEA to treat specific medical conditions. You should consult a doctor before consuming any DHEA supplement.

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  • "HGH (Human Growth Hormone): Age-Reversing Miracle (Woodland Health Ser)"; Rita Elkins; 2004
  • "Naturally Raising Your HGH Levels"; Dicken C Weatherby; 2005
  • "The DHEA Breakthrough"; Stephen A. Cherniske; 1998
  • "DHEA: A Practical Guide"; Ray Sahelian; 1996
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