Human growth hormone, or HGH, is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. It has recently gained in popularity as a way to build muscle, lower body fat and reverse the aging process. These properties have not been thoroughly studied, and there are many potential side effects and risks associated with the use of HGH without a medical need. Currently, HGH is available as an injection and only with the prescription of a doctor.
The pituitary gland produces HGH to stimulate growth in childhood. HGH also helps to maintain health throughout life, but production begins to dwindle in middle age. Many people believe that supplementing the body's production of growth hormones at that time can slow or reverse the aging process.
Individuals with a deficiency of HGH that is not caused by normal aging can benefit from supplementation. Injections of HGH can also help people who are experiencing muscle wasting due to AIDS. Some of the benefits of this hormone include increased muscle mass and bone density, as well as increased stamina. The long-term results for individuals without a medical need are unknown.
Individuals without a hormonal deficiency can experience side effects from the injection of HGH. They may experience muscle and joint pain, as well as swelling of their arms and legs. Men who use HGH, and who are otherwise healthy, may experience gynecomastia, which is an enlargement of breast tissue. Due to the lack of long-term studies on the use of HGH in healthy adults, it is unknown whether the side effects are permanent.
Many web sites claim to offer HGH in pill form for sale to the unwary consumer. Also available are pills that claim to cause the pituitary gland to release HGH. These claims have not been evaluated, and there is no evidence that they are true.
In addition to the immediate side effects, HGH can increase the risk of other medical conditions. Adults who are not suffering from a hormonal deficiency, and take HGH, can increase their risk for diabetes and heart disease. HGH therapy can also be extremely expensive and may not be covered by insurance.