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The use of human growth hormone and their effects has been studied widely in case of children and adults who are suffering from the deficiency of human growth hormone.

What is human growth hormone?

The growth hormone as the name suggests is essential for the normal growth and maturation of our body. This hormone (a chemical substance) is produced in a gland known as the pituitary gland. The growth hormone or the human growth hormone is required throughout the life (although in varying quantities) for the maintenance of normal functions of the different cells and tissues in our body.

It has been noted that the production and release of human growth hormone occurs in various phases. The level of growth hormone in our body peaks during puberty and reaches a plateau during young adulthood. The pituitary gland tends to slow down the production of the human growth hormone during middle adulthood and further decreases as age progresses. Decreased production of growth hormone during infancy or childhood can result in conditions such as dwarfism while increased production can result in conditions such as gigantism or acromegaly.

Children with growth hormone deficiency are commonly prescribed human growth hormone injections to improve overall physical and mental growth. In case of older adults a deficiency of growth hormone is associated with changes such as decrease in the muscle mass, increase in the fat tissues and thinning of the skin tissues. Administration of low doses of human growth hormone in such adults may improve their health status to a certain extent. 

When is human growth hormone prescribed, and what are its benefits?

Synthetic human growth hormones are now available only with prescription. The human growth hormone is available as injections. These are generally advised in children who have certain underlying disorders that would have resulted in decreased production of growth hormone in their body.  Human growth hormone is also prescribed in cases of adults who are suffering from deficiency of growth hormone either due to certain underlying disorders or due to increased age.

What are the benefits of human growth hormone in individuals with growth hormone deficiency?

It has been noted that administration of human growth hormone in adults suffering from deficiency of growth hormone increases the bone density and muscle mass, decreases the body fat and also increases the exercise capacity. Further, it may also have other benefits such as: reduction in the cholesterol levels and improvement in the heart function.

Some studies have also reported improvement in mental health in adults who tend to suffer from some psychological conditions that are related to decreased levels of growth hormone in the body. The human growth hormone has also been advised in adults with muscle wasting or thinning due to certain specific underlying disorders such as AIDS. While it tends to improve the growth in children suffering from growth hormone deficiency, it improves muscle mass and bone density in case of adults suffering from deficiency of growth hormone.

Is the use of human growth hormone legal?

The use of human growth hormone is considered legal in cases of children and adults who are suffering from conditions that are associated with decreased production of growth hormone. Human growth hormone is available only on prescription and is only indicated for use in children and adults suffering from deficiency of growth hormone.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States approves the use of human growth hormone only in the above mentioned cases. All other uses are not encouraged. It should also be noted that synthetic human growth hormones are only available as injections that need to be administered either as subcutaneous (below the skin layer) or as intramuscular (into the muscles) injections. No other form of medication contains human growth hormone.

What is the effect of human growth hormone on healthy adults?

The effects of human growth hormone have not been tested widely in healthy adults and no clear health benefits of human growth hormone in healthy adults have been reported. According to the few available studies, administration of human growth hormone in case of healthy adults has been associated with an increase in the muscle mass and reduction in the amount of fat in the body.

No other benefits have been reported with the use of human growth hormone in case of healthy adults. It has also been noted that although human growth hormone increases muscle mass in healthy adults, it does not improve or increase strength levels. However, it should be remembered that further large scale studies are required to confirm the initial findings reported by these low scale studies. On the other hand several researchers have reported that a cheaper and effective way of gaining muscle mass and energy is strength training.

What are the side effects of human growth hormone?

Numerous studies are also being performed in relation to the use of growth hormones in older age individuals in whom the amount of growth hormone has gradually reduced owing to increased age. The use of human growth hormone within the prescribed limits in case of children and adults who are suffering from deficiency of human growth hormone is generally not associated with any major side-effects.

Although a few studies reported certain side-effects such as water retention and pain in the joints, it was noted that these effects reduced when the dosage of human growth hormone was reduced further. Similar reports were also noted with the use of minimal doses of human growth hormones in older adults with decreased production of growth hormone from the pituitary gland.

Read More: High Doses Of Hormones And Ivf Complications

Several adverse effects have been reported in case of healthy adults who take human growth hormone. Some of the side effects that are more commonly observed include: swelling in the arms and legs due to increased water retention; pain in the joints, a condition similar to arthritis which may occur due to water retention in the joints; pain in the muscles and increased growth of the breast tissues in case of men (a condition commonly referred to as gynecomastia).

Some studies have also reported that increased use of human growth hormone in healthy adults is associated with an increased risk of conditions such as heart disorders and diabetes.

  • www.mayoclinic.com/health/growth-hormone/HA00030
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HGH_controversies
  • pituitary.mgh.harvard.edu/e-f-944.htm
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  • content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/323/1/1
  • www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/hypopit/gh.html
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_hormone_treatment