Growth Hormone and Growth Hormone Secretagogues
is the best way to look and feel younger? Most anti-aging physicians agree
that growth hormone and growth factors are the keys to cellular rejuvenation.
Fortunately, technology has now made them available and affordable.
Is Human Growth Hormone (hGH)?
Human Growth hormone (hGH) is a small protein molecule, which contains
191 amino acids in a single polypeptide chain. It is the most common hormone
secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. Its rate of production peaks during
adolescence when accelerated growth occurs. However, it generally remains
in abundance in the pituitary gland ready to be secreted into the body. For
some reason unknown, the amount of growth hormone secreted starts to slow
after peaking. The measurable level of hGH in our body decreases 14 percent
every ten years into old age. This reduced level of secretion occurs over
a period of time, which leads to aging. Daily
secretion from the pituitary gland diminishes with age to the extent that
a 60-year-old man secretes only 25 percent of the hGH secreted by a 20 year
hGH is actually released in pulses that take place during the day. Its release
is especially prominent during the beginning phases of sleep. Secreted
from the pituitary gland, these pulses are converted in the liver (within
20 minutes) to Insulin-like Growth Factor Type I (IGF-1). Although IGF-1
is not insulin, it acts like insulin as it promotes glucose transfer through
cell membranes into the cell. More importantly, IGF-1 elicits most of the
effects associated with the growth hormone. It is measured in the blood and
is the surrogate marker of growth hormone in the body.
of hGH in Anti-Aging Medicine
Dr. Harvey Cushing first discovered the Growth Hormone in 1912. It was first
isolated from human and monkey cadavers through glandular extraction in 1956.
Two years later it was used to treat dwarfism in children by injection. Dr.
Daniel Rudman conducted a landmark double blind study in 1989. The results
of this study showed conclusively that age reversal was possible with the
use of GH. This study included adult men who had measured deficiencies in
growth hormone and were aged between 61 and 73 years. They were injected with
GH produced from recombinant DNA synthesis. In 1990, Dr. Rudman's results
were reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
Results of the double blind study showed:
- Lean Body Mass +8.8%
- Bone Density +1.6%
- Adipose Tissue (Fat) Mass -14.4%
- Skin Thickness from 4 sites +7.1%
In short, skin became thicker, muscle mass increased, age-related stomach
fat disappeared, and lost bone from the spine was restored.
The effects of six months of human growth hormone on lean body mass and
adipose-tissue mass were equivalent to 10 to 20 years of reversed aging.
Here, the most significant result relating to anti-aging exists between the
ratio of muscle to fat.
A quote from Robert Klatz's book Stopping the Clock aptly summarizes the full
report made by this relationship and the implications: "...it helps to
recall the way our muscle-fat ratio tends to change as we age. Some 80 percent
of a young adult's body are lean body mass: (which is) muscles, organs, and
bone. Only 20 percent is fatty (adipose) tissue. For most people, after age
30, muscles atrophy, partly from genetic programming, partly from underuse.
Every decade thereafter an average of 5 percent of lean body mass is replaced
by fatty tissue, so that by the time most of us reach age 70, we've gone from
an 80-20 lean-fat ratio to a ratio that is closer to 50-50."
The increase in fatty tissue is related to a variety of cardiovascular problems,
while the loss of lean body mass is linked to the elderly losing energy, strength,
and mobility. Any cause that can slow or reverse the trend towards more fatty
tissue in effect slows or reverses the aging process itself.
Although drugs and therapies that claim to reverse aging are nothing new,
only Dr. Rudman's study passes the gold standard of drug testing: controlled,
randomized, double-blind clinical study with reproducible results.
Studies on Growth Hormone
Since Dr. Rudman's landmark study in the field of hGH, 100 reputable studies
have been performed which documented the safety and legitimacy of this outstanding
After Dr. Rudman's death, a study was conducted at the same institution at
which Dr. Rudman completed his original work. The following information was
taken from this study at the Medical College of Wisconsin between 1994 and
Recipients of hGH were given low dose/high frequency dosages. The information
was compiled from 308 randomly selected self-assessment questionnaires that
were completed by 202 patients.
- 88% reported improvement in Muscle Strength
- 81% reported improvement in Muscle Size
- 71% reported improvement in Body Fat Loss
- 81% reported improvement in Exercise Tolerance
- 83% reported improvement in Exercise Endurance
- 71% reported improvement in Skin Texture
- 68% reported improvement in Skin Thickness
- 71% reported improvement in Skin Elasticity
- 51% reported improvement in Wrinkle Disappearance
- 38% reported improvement in New Hair Growth
- 55% reported improvement in Healing of Old Injury
- 53% reported improvement in Back Flexibility
- 53% reported improvement in Sexual Potency/Frequency
- 73% reported improvement to Common Illness
- 62% reported improvement in Duration of Penile Erection
- 57% reported improvement in Frequency of Nighttime Urination
- 57% reported improvement in Hot Flashes
- 84% reported improvement in Energy Level
- 62% reported improvement in Memory
Such findings, which became a stir in the medical industry, create a huge
demand for human growth hormone.
of hGH Enhancement
Effects of hGH enhancements include the loss of fat and wrinkles as well
as the growth of hair and gains in muscle. Improvements in sex drive, brain
function, vision, immune function, and cholesterol profile have been widely
determined as well.
of Declining Hormonal Health
The following are 15 common signs of declining hormonal health:
Do you go through mood swings easily?
Do you anger easily?
Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
Is your sex life declining?
Do you have problem concentrating?
Do you often get cold or feel sick?
Is your total blood cholesterol over 240?
Is your HDL cholesterol under 50?
Do you have high blood pressure?
Does the skin on your face and neck appear to hang?
Is it getting harder to exercise?
Is your grip strength weakening?
Is your endurance level less?
Is your breathing more labored when you exercise hard?
Are you age 45 and above?
If you answer "yes" to many of the questions, you should consult
an anti-aging physician for further evaluation as hormonal replacement may
be warranted. If you answer negatively to most of the questions above,
chances are your hormonal health is within normal limits and no intervention
of hGH Deficiency in Adults
There are numerous symptoms to indicate a hGH deficiency. These symptoms can
be broken down into at least four different categories.
I. Symptoms in anabolic tone include:
reduced lean body mass, reduced skeletal muscle strength, reduced exercise
performance, increased body fat, and increased abdominal fat.
II. Symptoms in lipid effects: increased
LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL cholesterol; in bone defects: osteopenia
(lack of bone).
III. Symptoms in protein synthesis:
thin skin, lack of collagen, decreased size of organs, decreased nail, and
IV. Symptoms in mental health: reduced
energy, emotional instability, poor memory and concentration, depression,
and reduced sex drive.
Hormone Enhancement and Replacement
Human Growth Hormone Injections
years after Dr. Rudman's study, the therapeutic approach to dominating the
growth hormone field was through the injection of the human growth hormone.
Injectable hGH is currently produced by recombinant DNA biotechnology methods.
Only a few pharmaceutical companies worldwide are capable of producing injectable
However, there were many problems associated with using this method. Fortunately,
these setbacks were not safety related. For example, the injections could
cost up to $1,000 per month. Since the objective of this procedure was
to mimic the body's secretion pattern of hGH throughout the day, the doses
tended to be low, although they were delivered in higher frequencies. As a
result, many people complained about the daily injections. No major side effects
were reported with the exception of some minor joint aches and pains and fluid
retention. These minor complications, however, tended to disappear within
the first two months.
Fortunately there were no reported cases of cancer or serious degenerative
illnesses. However there would be a decrease in energy level when a patient
tops the hGH injections. It was found that the body composition would essentially
remain unchanged if accompanied by an exercise and diet program. Although
injections of Human Growth Hormone may not be the program of choice for many
people, statistics demonstrate overwhelmingly its impressive effectiveness.
However, interest in hGH injections never reached critical mass. Perhaps
the cause for this is the injection method, which is considered troublesome.
Amino Acid Secretagogues
A secretagogue (pronounced se-cre'-ta-gog) is a natural
polyamino acid chain that is postulated to initiate the pituitary gland to
release growth hormone. It is the precursor to hGH. While hGH causes
the body to act as if the pituitary has released growth hormone, a secretagogue
actually causes the release of it. Hence a secretagogue causes the bodies
own natural processes to produce growth hormones. Secretagogues do not
act as growth hormones at all as they stimulate the pituitary gland to secrete
Interestingly, the inconvenience of hGH injections first led to the discovery
of Secretagogues. For years, it was believed that the pituitary gland, which
produces growth hormones, dries up as a natural effect of aging. Science has
recently discovered that growth hormones reside in the pituitary gland, which
stops the release due to aging. Scientists then discovered that certain
combinations of amino acids could actually spur the pituitary gland to release
the growth hormones. Experiments soon led to the right combinations.
Natural secretagogue is the most practical approach because there are no
side effects. In comparison with hGH, their potency and efficacy are
low. Since these are orally taken, they can be a first line approach for those
who may not choose hGH injections.
This category of hGH products uses amino acids as "secretagogues,"
which stimulate the pituitary gland to produce hGH. Other proprietary agents
are usually part of the powder/tablet mix, which provide each product with
a presumed marketing advantage. Studies show that certain amino acid combinations
such as L-lysine, L-arginine, L-ornithine and L-glutamine can stimulate pituitary
hGH. While this is theoretically plausible and positive clinical results
have been widely reported, published double blind controlled studies that
show evidence that these other proprietary factors provide additional pituitary
hGH secretion is still incomplete at best. Most studies reveal at least two
grams of amino acids are needed to have any effect on pituitary hGH stimulation.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and causes GH secretion.
It is a conditional amino acid as the body may not be able to synthesize it
under stressful conditions. Traditionally it has been used to strengthen the
immune system. The standard anti-aging intake is 50 mg to 1 gm twice daily.
Glutamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is essential for proper brain
functions, immune functions, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, and liver functions.
Glutamine becomes one of our body's most powerful antioxidants in high quantities.
Many people, especially those in weight training, add this amino acid due
to its benefit in muscle metabolism. Supplementation of two to three gm/day
is quite common. For those who plan to take extra doses, it is best to divide
the doses throughout the day with up to four servings daily.
Two grams of glutamine was shown to cause a four fold increase in Growth Hormone
Lysine is an essential amino acid, which affects bone formation, height, and
genital function. It also boosts the effects of arginine. The recommended
dosage is one gram on an empty stomach one hour before bedtime and before
Ornithine is a non-essential amino acid. It is used to potentate the effect
of Arginine. The suggested dosage is one gram at bedtime. Doses of more than
two to five grams have been known to cause diarrhea.
Oral Peptide Secretagogues
hGH is a hormone made up of a long chain of amino acids. Only a
portion of the long chain of amino acids makes up the active ingredient. Researchers
have been able to identify and extract these active peptides, which are usually
five to ten amino acids linked together in a chain. These are then stabilized
and formulated into a power or tablet effervescent form. The oral tablets
are dissolved in water to be taken before bedtime on an empty stomach. This
is to stimulate the release of hGH from the anterior pituitary, which peaks
during the early phase of sleep. The effervescent
form is best to draw the peptide away from the gastric juice closer
to the mucous for better absorption. Gastric juices are highly acidic. Peptides
are proteins that are easily denatured when exposed to an acidic environment.
Extraction of the peptide is a tedious process. Peptides are not stable enough
to maintain its activity in an aqueous environment. Thus, the peptide is formulated
in the oral tablet format. Secretagogues using peptides are abundant in the
marketplace. They are sold as a natural nutritional supplement and no
FDA approval is required. However, some unscrupulous operators
simply use ground bovine pituitary gland and pass them off as secretagogues.
The consumer is often faced with the arduous task of identifying which is
the real secretagogue.
Secretagogues can also work at multiple sites leading to growth hormone
release. For example, a secretagogue targeted towards the hypothalamus
would stimulate the hypothalamus to release Growth Hormone Releasing Factor
(GHRF) that in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone.
An oral peptide pituitary secretagogue, on the other hand, stimulates the
pituitary gland directly to effect the release of growth hormone.
An effective secretagogue could easily raise IGF-1 levels, although the
result is not as significant as growth hormone injections. Clinically
many users have reported better sleep, increased alertness during the day,
and less joint pain.
IGF-1 levels may not be the best indicator of how effective a secretagogue
is for the GH receptor sites may be damaged. A low IGF-1 level does not
mean that the body's growth hormone level has not increased. It may simply
mean that that the level is not accurately measured, or that there is a defective
receptor site. If your IGF-1 does not increase,
do not be despair. Talk to your health care practitioner. How you
feel is just as important and sometimes even more important than laboratory
Growth factors (GF) are small protein chains, commonly
known as polypeptides, which bind to cell surface receptor sites
and exert actions directly on the target cells. This is generally done through
cellular proliferation and or differentiation.
Some GFs exert generalized effect, while others are cell and action specific.
There are many different classes of GFs. Some common ones include: Insulin-like
Growth Factor (IGF-1) that is responsible for much of Growth Hormones (GH)
action in the body; Interleukins (IL); Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGF); Transforming
Growth Factor (TGF); Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF); Epidermal Growth Factor
(EGF); and Transforming Growth Factors-b (TGFs-b).
GFs come from a wide variety of sources. Epithelial Growth Factors (EGF) comes
from sub maxillary gland, and FGF comes from a wide range
of cells. A unique family of growth factors that is secreted primarily
by leukocytes (white blood cells) is called cytokines. When such cytokines
are secreted by lymphocytes, they are called lymphokines. Many of the lymphokines
are also known as interleukins (ILs). Not only are interleukins secreted by
leukocytes, they are also able to affect the cellular responses of leukocytes.
Do Growth Factors Do?
Different GFs have different jobs to do. Generally, all of them work at the
cellular level to:
Repair damaged cells
Enhance cellular proliferation
Maintain optimum function of the target organ
Rejuvenate aging tissues
While hormones generally are more specific and sometimes work through other
mediations elicited from its simulation of intermediate organs, GFs often
act directly on the target tissue and have a wide range of effects. Its action
is mostly stimulatory. It can also work synergistically with other GFs or
hormones to elicit a biological effect. Growth hormone, for example, exerts
its effect in the body via Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). In other words,
it is the IGF-1 that actually carries out the function of growth hormone and
not growth hormone itself.
What Is Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF)?
FGF is a group of GFs that act on the fibroblast within the body. Fibroblast
are basic building blocks of fibrous tissue, including the brain, nervous
system, eye, blood vessels, heart, stomach, skin, liver, kidney, muscle and
bone. In fact, most cells in these organs possess receptors for
FGF and therefore susceptible to its biological effect.
There are at least 19 distinct members of the FGF family, which interact
with at least 4 distinct types of cell-surface receptors. It is evident that
a certain amount of FGF is essential for optimum body function, and disruption
of FGF can lead to disease states, including achondroplasia and craniosynotosis
FGF can be bound to inert, non-toxic polymers to form a conjugated molecule.
This is usually done through a series of chemical reactions. Substances commonly
used for as polymers include polysaccharides or muco-adhesives.
FGF is a small protein that can be easily denatured when exposed to heat or
acid. Ingesting FGF, for example, will expose FGF to gastric acid, which will
quickly denature it. When the FGF is conjugated, the protein is more stable
and protected from the digestive enzymes, for example. Conjugation can furthermore
program the FGF's release from its carrier to ensure that the desired action
of the GF on a specific site is maintained.
What is the Anti-Aging Effect of FGF?
The natural progression of the aging process is due to cellular degeneration.
Oxidative stress and free radical pathology has been well studied in this
respect as a causative factor. FGF helps maintain the target organs in the
body that contains fibrous tissue, including the eye, heart, brain, skin,
and the musculoskeletal system. It helps damaged tissues to be repaired. For
example, FGF can help injured nerve tissue restore to normal function, or
damaged blood vessels to be repaired to prevent further clotting or stokes.
In the case of duodenal ulcers, it can help the ulcer heal more quickly. Fortification
and re-growth of the epidermis and its underlying circulation will lead to
healthier skin and less wrinkles.
Non-damaged aging cells can also benefit from FGFs. Laboratory studies, for
example, have shown that cells that are unable to replace themselves (such
as eye tissue) can be stimulated to renew their cell layers. An example of
this is the pigmented layer in the eye.
Body parts that response to biological stimulation
of FGF include:
Nervous system (brain, central nervous system)
Cardiovascular system (heart, circulatory system)
Skin (dermis, epidermis, and underlying circulatory system)
Eye (cornea and retina)
Gastro-intestinal system (stomach and intestine)
Hair (hair follicle and the sub-scalp circulatory system)
Musculo-skeletal system (muscle, bone, cartilage)
Liver and Kidney (target organ cells)
and Medical Use
Intense research is underway to further study the therapeutic use of FGF in
combating disease and deterring the aging process. The National Institute
of Health (NIH), for example is conducting a study on using FGF to treat coronary
heart disease in lieu of coronary bypass surgery.
Other animal studies include the use of FGF in:
Treatment of duodenal ulcer
Treatment of adult macular degeneration of the eye
Treatment of burns wounds
Treatment of spinal cord injuries
Repair of bone and cartilage damage.
Because of tremendous individual variation,
the use of nutritionals should therefore be personalized for your
body. One person's nutrient can be another person's toxin. If you
have a specific health concern and wish my personalized nutritional
recommendation, write to me by clicking
Commercially available FGFs or hGH secretagogue is of very low dosage and
classified as a food supplement under FDA regulations. Side effects have not
been reported. Due to its stimulatory effect on fibrous tissues, active
cancer or pregnant patients should avoid taking this as a food supplement
unless cleared by the physician.
The best one-two punch in non-invasive cellular rejuvenation may be the
use of both oral growth hormone and growth factor secretagogues.
hormone pathway is distinctly different from that of growth factors. Together,
they act synergistically to stimulate the release of key factors that promote
anti-aging safely, naturally, and effectively.
Ceda G, Valenti G. Butterini U, Hoffman AR: Diminished Pituitary
Response to Growth Hormone-Releasing Factor in Aging Male Rats. Endocrinology
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DHEA Replacement Therapy. Life Extension Report 13(9):67, 1993.
Kelley K, et al: Gh3 Pituitary Adenoma Cells Can Reverse Thymic Aging in Rats.
Proc of the Nat Acad of Sci 83:5663, 1986, cited in Longevity: A Fresh Shot
of Life. Omni 1(9):85, July 1987.
Rudman D, Feller AG, Nograj HS, et al: Effects of Human Growth Hormone in Men
over 60 Years old. New Engl J of Med 323:1-6, 1990.
Rudman D: Growth Hormone, Body Composition and Aging. J of the Amer Ger Soc
Salomon F., Cuneo RC, Hesp R, Sönksen PH: The Effects of Treatment with Recombinant
Human Growth Hormone on Body Composition and Metabolism in Adults with Growth
Hormone Deficiency. New Eng J of Med 321:1797-1803, 1989.
Ref: GROWTHHORMONESANDFACTORS (Rev 131009)
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About The Author
Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M., is a western trained physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Lam received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine where he has also served as a board examiner. Dr. Lam is a pioneer in using nontoxic, natural compounds to promote the healing of many age-related degenerative conditions. He utilizes optimum blends of nutritional supplementation that manipulate food, vitamins, natural hormones, herbs, enzymes, and minerals into specific protocols to rejuvenate cellular function.
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