Human growth hormone, or HGH, plays an important role in development and rejuvenation. Released by the pituitary gland, HGH reaches only a limited number of sites within the body. Chemists, however, can manufacture a synthetic form of HGH that penetrates nearly every cell. This synthetic form provides a broad range of medical benefits. It may, however, also cause unwanted side effects. Speak with a doctor before you take HGH.
Doctors have used HGH to treat patients with short stature for decades. Pharmacists originally obtained growth hormone from human cadavers, according to a December 2003 review in the "Journal of Endocrinology." Concerns about disease transmission led to the development of synthetic HGH in the 1980s. Recombinant growth hormone remains the treatment of choice for unusually short children. An analysis offered in the July 2011 issue of "Hormone Research in Pediatrics" showed that at least 80 percent of children treated with HGH come close to reaching their genetic potential.
Children with bone marrow cancer usually receive some form of chemotherapy. Such treatment often damages their pituitary gland, causing an HGH deficiency. This deficiency reduces their bone mineral density placing them at risk for osteoporosis, according to a May 2011 report in the "European Journal of Endocrinology." Starting a hormone replacement protocol with HGH might help reduce this risk. A clinical trial described in the August 2011 edition of the "Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology" tested this hypothesis in adults diagnosed with cancer as children. Two years of HGH treatment improved the patients' bone mineral density and their mental health.
Some athletes use growth hormone to gain a competitive edge. This practice began before the clinical uses of HGH, according to an August 2011 article in "Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry." Sports stars mistakenly believe that taking HGH will improve their athletic abilities, but only patients with a growth hormone deficiency show much benefit. A study presented in the May 2001 issue of "JCEM" evaluated the impact of growth hormone on HGH-deficient adults. Twelve months of treatment increased the subjects' capacity for aerobic exercise. It also lowered their cholesterol count.
Weightlifters and bodybuilders sometimes take HGH to increase their muscle mass. Such use often leads to symptoms of drug dependence, according to a January 2011 report in the "American Journal on Addictions." Little scientific data support the alleged muscle-building effects of HGH in healthy adults. Yet, research testing HGH-deficient adults has shown that growth hormone can produce anabolic effects. An experiment published in the January 2011 edition of "JCEM" showed that six months of hormone replacement therapy with HGH increased lean body mass. The treatment also increased levels of IGF -- an anabolic hormone known to protect nerve cells.