Human growth hormone, or HGH, affects your immune system, food digestion and healing rate. Having a growth hormone deficiency places you at risk for muscle loss and skin damage, according to a review on the website Vitamin Research Products. Amino acid supplements containing arginine and ornithine can help you prevent the negative consequences of having low HGH. Such supplements can cause side effects. Talk to your doctor before trying to increase your HGH levels.
Arginine plays an important role in cell division, making it critical for wound healing. Increases in growth hormone likely mediate these effects, according to the results of animal research published in the June 2011 edition of "Neuroscience Bulletin." Studies in humans also show that arginine increases HGH levels. An April 2005 report in "Growth Hormone and IGF Research" tested the impact of different doses of arginine supplements. Healthy men received three doses of arginine and a placebo during four testing sessions. The smaller doses, 5 and 9 g, increased HGH levels without causing side effects. The largest dose, 13 g, did not affect HGH and caused stomach cramps.
Ornithine helps your body remove waste products such as ammonia. Giving this amino acid to healthy subjects before they sleep increases their growth hormone production, according to a 1985 report in "Hormone Research." More recent studies have shown that these effects appear even in the absence of sleep. An investigation published in the September 1996 issue of "The Journal of Nutrition" evaluated the effect of ornithine on healthy and traumatized rats. The animals consumed a diet containing 10 percent of the amino acid for 4 days. This treatment increased HGH in both healthy and injured animals. Ornithine intake did not cause toxicity.
Argininine and Ornithine
Supplement makers often package multiple amino acids together in a single product. A review published in the May 2001 issue of "Medical Hypotheses" suggested that such a combination should have a larger impact on your body. An April 2010 report in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" assessed the effect of combining arginine and ornithine. Subjects completed a three-week program of resistance exercise while receiving either the combination or a placebo. The arginine-ornithine supplement increased growth hormone more than placebo during an exercise challenge. Baseline levels of HGH did not change during the course of the study. The participants didn't experience side effects related to the use of arginine and ornithine.
Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, or OKG, remains available for sale, despite safety concerns. Your body converts this substance into arginine and ornithine, according to an August 2010 review in the "Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging." Taking OKG prevents the age-related loss of muscle. Increases in growth hormone might underlie these anabolic effects. An August 1999 report in "Clinical Nutrition" tested this hypothesis in burn patients. The researchers gave subjects OKG immediately after they had sustained their injuries. Four days of amino acid treatment facilitated healing. These effects appeared mediated by increases in circulating levels of HGH and insulin. No side effects were reported in this study, but OKG can cause stomach cramps.
- Vitamin Research Products; Growth Hormone: Amino Acids as GH Secretagogues; Kimberly Pryor and Ward Dean
- "Neuroscience Bulletin"; Oral Arginine Improves Linear Growth of Long Bones and the Neuroendocrine Mechanism; Ming-Yu Jiang and De-Pei Cai; June 2011
- "Growth Hormone and IGF Research"; Growth Hormone Responses to Varying Doses of Oral Arginine; S. R. Collier, et al.; April 2005
- "Hormone Research"; Comparison of Growth Hormone Sleep Release and Responses to Pharmacological Tests; P.E. Garnier, et al.; 1985
- "The Journal of Nutrition"; Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) Supplementation Is More Effective Than Its Component Salts in Traumatized Rats; M. Jeevanandam, et al.; September 1996
- "Medical Hypotheses"; New Technique to Elevate Night Time Growth Hormone Release and a Potential Growth Hormone Feedback Control Loop; T. B. Parr; May 2001