A few years ago, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) made global headlines when it was revealed how synthetic HGH helped Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers of his generation, overcome a condition known as Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD).
While Messi’s story may have brought HGH to worldwide attention, the fact of the matter is that athletes and bodybuilders have been using human growth hormone pills and supplements for decades, for the wide array of performance-related benefits they provide.
This powerful anabolic hormone basically has the ability to reverse the internal clock of your body, helping you to rapidly slash fat, increase libido and build muscle, all while drastically increasing your energy levels.
However, the subject of HGH as a performing-enhancing substance has always been shrouded in controversy, with discussions often leading to more questions than answers. If you’re interested in HGH’s application in bodybuilding, then you’ve come to the right place. Over the course of this blog, we’ll discuss everything there’s to know about HGH: the benefits, the side-effects, and how and why it’s used as a bodybuilding supplement.
What is Human Growth Hormone?
HGH is a hormone that’s naturally produced by the pituitary gland in our body, and as implied by its name, it’s the hormone that’s responsible for the regeneration and growth of cells. In addition to increasing bone density and muscle mass, HGH plays a critical role in maintaining the health of tissues, including the ones found in vital organs such as the heart and the brain.
Although growth hormone only remains active in the blood for a few moments after secretion, it’s all the time the liver requires to transform it onto growth factors. Perhaps the most vital of such growth factors is IGF-1, a hormone with a molecular structure similar to insulin, and one which possesses a wide range of anabolic properties.
While the harvesting of human growth hormone from the pituitary glands of cadavers had begun in the 1950s, the first synthetic recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) wasn’t developed until 1981. After that, it didn’t take long for it to achieve widespread popularity as a performing-enhancing drug.
Why HGH is used in Bodybuilding
We’ve already touched upon the crucial role HGH plays in the body’s growth, especially in adolescents. But what about individuals who have surpassed the age of physical growth? Can supplements such as HGH continue to spur muscle tissue growth?
The simple answer is: Yes, they can.
You see, taking HGH as a dietary supplement is perhaps the most effective way to provide your body with HGH. When direct HGH supplements or HGH alternatives are ingested, your body instantly seeks to grow the systems that are stressed. When you’re bodybuilding, your body immediately directs the active ingredients of the human growth hormone supplement to the stressed muscles, where they instantly start to augment the growth of muscle connections and density.
Now that we’ve provided a basic overview of how HGH supplements help bodybuilders to rapidly build muscles, let’s take a look at how HGH supplements work at a deeper physiological level. We’ve already established that HGH is naturally secreted by the pituitary gland in our body, and also that excess amounts of HGH in the body lead to the liver secreting another powerful anabolic hormone known as IGF-1.
X`Now, this is a good time to tell you that IGF-1 is the Holy Grail for bodybuilders. While it’s true that IGF-1 is naturally produced by our body, the fact is that the amount created is only enough to help our body function and grow at a normal rate. Supplementary HGH, on the other hand, promotes excess secretion of IGF-1.
The obvious advantage of your body producing excess IGF-1 is that your muscle cells grow much faster compared to when your body produces regular amounts of IGF-1.
Additional Benefits of HGH
In addition to increasing muscle density and improving weight loss, HGH provides a variety of other health benefits when taken in small doses. These range from general recovery to igniting the anti-age process. Here are some of the prominent benefits of HGH treatment:
Improved Fracture Healing
A variety of hormones and local growth factors are responsible for the regulation of bone and mineral metabolism and fracture healing. Recent medical research suggests that administering HGH can speed up the process of bone regeneration. Furthermore, the application of growth factors, such as the IGF-1, is known to be a good stimulant for bone metabolism.
HGH expedites healing and plays a vital role in the healing of wounds and injuries. According to research, HGH significantly enhances the repair of wear and tear. The University of California’s Department of Medicine recently conducted a controlled, randomized and double-blinded HGH therapy study. The study was 6 months long and the goal was to find if administering HGH could enhance the healing process among individuals with low baseline IGF-1 secretion levels. The results of the study revealed that administering HGH significantly improved the deposition of collagen during the healing process, thereby enhancing the body’s overall ability to heal. If you’re interested in learning more about HGH’s healing properties, check out our article about HGH healing properties!
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Adults who suffer from Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. In a Swedish medical study conducted in 1993, 104 GHD patients were studied for the risk of cardiovascular disease. Compared to controls, the patients were found to have higher concentrations of triglycerides and higher body mass. These findings indicate that GHD alters lipoprotein metabolism, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Can Improve Erectile Dysfunction
Recent studies have suggested that HGH is responsible for sexual maturation and reproduction function in males, while HGH deficiency has been associated with low sex drive and loss of erection. A medical study conducted in Germany revealed that administering HGH could improve erectile dysfunction. The study found that HGH stimulates the human corpus cavernosum smooth muscle, thereby inducing a penile erection.
Can Improve Cognitive Function & Mood
Research and studies have also found that growth hormone therapy can improve the psychological well-being and quality of life of GHD patients. The result of a Lithuanian study conducted in 2004 revealed that administering human recombinant growth hormone (rhGH) to GHD patients could significantly improve mood and cognitive function. The study was carried out with 18 adult GHD patients, and the weekly amount of HGH administered to each of them was 12 IU.
Most of the HGH secretion in our body occurs just after we fall asleep and continues to rise through the initial hours of sleep. People who are deprived of sleep, such as individuals who work the night shift or those who have the habit of studying late at night, often find it difficult to perform through the day.
Lack of sleep can negatively impact hypothalamus and pituitary function, further affecting the release time of growth hormone. A study conducted at the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine revealed that prolonged sleep deprivation can result in drastically reduced growth hormone secretion, which can severely disturb the sleep-wake cycle. HGH supplements can restore the hormonal balance in the body, allowing for an optimal sleep-wake cycle.