Reports of the miraculous benefits of injections of Human growth hormone, or hGH, abound. So what is Human growth hormone and what can it really do?
What is hGH?
hGH is produced naturally by the pituitary gland and plays important roles in growth and metabolism. The chemical is produced throughout one's lifetime, but it's made in higher concentrations during youth.
It's available in quantity now for medical purposes because it can by synthesized in the lab.
Scientists first learned about how hGH works by studying children whose growth was stunted. These children were deficient in hGH, so injecting them with the substance enabled them to grow and develop normally.
hGH is also used to treat a condition associated with HIV, what is commonly called AIDS wasting syndrome.
AIDS wasting syndrome involves severe weight loss, but what's most devastating is the loss of muscle or lean body mass. While this condition can often be improved with appetite stimulants and exercise, some patients benefit immensely from hGH injections, which help them gain body mass.
It's important to note that hGH isn't an alternative to exercise, without which, that extra weight is likely to consist of fat rather than muscle.
Bodybuilding and hGH
Because of hGH's role in growth, some bodybuilders use it to increase their muscle mass faster. Use of hGH by people whose bodies are producing the substance normally is risky though. High levels of hGH can cause dangerous side effects such as swelling of the soft tissues of the body and abnormal growth of the hands, feet, and head.
Other people use hGH because they believe it slows down the aging process, offering a fountain of youth, but such claims lack scientific support.