Growth Hormone, or somatotropin, is a hormone that is needed for proper growth and development. While it has many health benefits, an excess amount of this hormone can cause health problems as well. Read more below to learn about its pros and cons.
- Role of Growth Hormone in Growth
- The Good
- 1) Growth Hormone Increases Metabolism
- 2) Growth Hormone Regulates the Immune System
- 3) Growth Hormone Promotes Heart Performance
- 4) Growth Hormone Improves Tissue Regeneration
- 5) Growth Hormone Fights Osteoporosis
- 6) Growth Hormone Reduces Body Fat
- 7) Growth Hormone Increases Muscle Mass and Strength
- 8) Growth Hormone Lowers Cholesterol Levels
- 8) Growth Hormone Helps Fertility
- The Bad
- My Experience With Growth Hormone
- Ways to Increase Your Growth Hormone Levels
- Ways to Decrease GH
Growth Hormone (GH), also known as somatotropin, is a hormone that stimulates linear growth and promotes healthy body composition by increasing muscle mass, reducing fat mass, and maintaining normal blood glucose levels (R).
Growth Hormone is synthesized and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain (R).
Secretion of GH is primarily controlled by two hormones, called GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin (R).
GHRH stimulates the release of GH to the bloodstream while somatostatin inhibits release of GH (R).
Growth Hormone is secreted episodically (R).
Growth Hormone continues to be secreted even during adult life after growth has ceased, meaning GH has other important physiologic functions other than stimulating growth (R).
During infancy, GH secretion is low but continues to increase slightly until before puberty (R).
At puberty, GH secretion is greatly increased and decreases in late adolescence and remains stable until about 30 years old in age (R).
From then on, a progressive decline occurs but GH secretion continues through old age. (R).
Role of Growth Hormone in Growth
When released, GH travels from the anterior pituitary gland to liver and cartilage via bloodstream and bind to its receptor, Growth Hormone Receptor (GHR), which triggers production of Insulin-Like Factor 1 (IGF-1) (R1, R2).
Growth Hormone acts at the growth plate and increases linear growth by promoting differentiation and expansion of cells (R).
It also increases transport of amino acids in muscles to affect muscle fiber distribution (R).
1) Growth Hormone Increases Metabolism
Growth hormone increases the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy consumed while at rest (R).
Patients with GH deficiency exhibited lower BMR (R).
Similarly, with the case of BMR, growth hormone also increases resting metabolic rate (R).
It also was shown to lower the fat-free mass (FFM) and body fat (BF) (R).
2) Growth Hormone Regulates the Immune System
Growth hormone causes proliferation of white blood cells of the immune system (R).
Growth hormone also regulates the immune system by modulating antibody secretion of B-Cells and cell-killing activities of various T-cells (R).
GH deficiency does not drastically affect the immune system (R).
GH deficiency patients do not exhibit immunodeficiency but only minor abnormalities in immune functions (R).
3) Growth Hormone Promotes Heart Performance
Growth hormone affects the activity of the left ventricle of the heart (R).
It increases the force of contraction of the left ventricle, increasing the force with which the blood is pumped throughout the body (R).
Increased force of contraction leads to reduced afterload (amount of blood left in the left ventricle after contraction), which helps prevent cardiac failure (R).
Growth hormone also decreases vascular resistance, allowing the blood to flow in the body more freely without being constrained by the vessels (R).
This results in increased oxygen uptake by the blood and exercise capacity of the body (R).
In GH-deficient patients, the left ventricle exhibits abnormalities in structure and function (R).
GH-deficient patients also exhibit thicker vessels, which constrain blood flow (R).
4) Growth Hormone Improves Tissue Regeneration
Growth hormone increases the rate of tissue regeneration and wound healing (R).
It has been shown beneficial effects in patients with severe burn and trauma (R).
Growth hormone also positively affects bone fracture healing (R).
5) Growth Hormone Fights Osteoporosis
Growth hormone plays a role in bone metabolism and can fight osteoporosis (R).
Growth hormone fights osteoporosis by maintaining the bone mineral density, preventing osteoporotic fractures (R).
Patients with growth hormone deficiency exhibit low bone mass and density due to lack of bone formation (R)
6) Growth Hormone Reduces Body Fat
Growth hormone can induce increased breakdown of fat (R).
The activity of growth hormone mainly affects fat on abdominal regions and redistributes the fat throughout the body (R).
Children and adults with GH deficiency have increased the amount of fat on their abdomen (R).
7) Growth Hormone Increases Muscle Mass and Strength
Growth hormone stimulates collagen synthesis in the tendon and skeletal muscle (R).
As a result, muscle strength increases (R).
Growth hormone also speeds up protein synthesis in muscles and increase muscle mass (R).
Due to its effects, athletes and body builders widely use growth hormone as a performance-enhancing drug (R).
Patients with growth hormone deficiency show reduced muscle mass and strength compared to non-GH-deficiency individuals (R).
Acromegaly patients have large muscles, but their muscle strength does not match their muscle mass due to the uneven composition of muscles, which hinders power generation (R).
8) Growth Hormone Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Growth hormone is important in the regulation of cholesterol levels (R).
Growth hormone decreases cholesterol levels in the blood (R).
Patients with growth hormone deficiency have higher levels of cholesterol (R).
8) Growth Hormone Helps Fertility
Growth hormone (GH) is involved in the regulation of male and female infertility and has been used in the management of both male and female infertility (R).
GH is also produced by the ovary apart from it being produced from pituitary. GH helps in monofollicular growth. GH therapy is one of the adjuvant treatment used in ovarian stimulation and Assisted Reproductive Technologies Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (R).
GH supplementation has been shown to improve pregnancy rates in poor responders. Growth hormone cotherapy has a definite role to play in ovarian stimulation and is effective in appropriately selected cases (R).
GH is produced not only by the pituitary but also locally by the ovary. Growth hormone, IGF-1, and GHRH, all increase the sensitivity of ovaries to gonadotropin stimulation and enhance follicular development (R).
Growth hormone also enhances aromatase and 3-β-hydrogenase activity, thus increasing the conversion of androgen into estrogens in females (R).
This effect on the ovarian steroidogenic enzymes occurs through a direct and/or IGF-I mediated mechanism. Growth hormones, IGF-1 and IGF-2, all affect the maturation of the follicle and gamete as well (R).
GH directly inhibits follicle apoptosis in conjunction with gonadotropins and may enhance follicular survival and cell proliferation by strengthening LH action (R).
Both GH and IGF-I play a role in the recruitment of the dominant follicle from its cohort, leading to monofollicular growth in women (R).
1) Growth Hormone Can Cause Acromegaly
Skin cells express the gene for GHR, which indicates that the skin is a direct target for GH, and hence skin cells are affected by the excessive amount of GH (R).
The hypersecretion of GH results in a condition called acromegaly (R).
Acromegaly is characterized by skin and skeletal deformities (R).
Patients with acromegaly have thick, rough and oily skin (R).
When acromegaly patients are treated with deficiency of GH, the thickness and elasticity of their skin return to normal levels (R).
2) Growth Hormone Causes Swelling and Cancer
Some patients exhibited swelling while being treated with growth hormone for short bowel syndrome (R).
GH might play a role in progression on a variety of cancers due to its ability to induce proliferation of cells (R).
So far, however, no studies have found a direct relationship between GH and cancer (R).
3) Growth Hormone Causes Muscle and Joint Pain
Growth hormone can induce muscle and joint pain (R).
4) Growth Hormone Can Cause Blurred Vision
An excessive amount of GH can cause blurred or double vision (R).
Patients with acromegaly have symptoms of blurring vision or sometimes complete loss of vision (R).
Acromegaly patients have increased the thickness of retina of their eyes, which affects the eye’s interaction with light (R).
5) Growth Hormone Causes Dizziness and Headaches
Acromegalic patients have reported severe headache (R).
Some patients being treated with growth hormone have also reported headache as well as dizziness during the treatment (R).
6) Growth Hormones Cause Sleep Apnea
Some patients being treated with growth hormone have reported sleep disturbance (R).
In some cases, patients have reported obstructive sleep apnea (R).
7) Growth Hormone Can Cause Diabetes
Growth hormone secretion increases when the blood glucose level is low (R).
This leads to increased glucose, decreased muscle glucose uptake and rising blood glucose levels (R).
Thus, abnormal growth hormone levels can help cause type 2 diabetes (R).
My Experience With Growth Hormone
When I experimented with growth hormone, it caused negative effects, probably because I’m a normal GH producer. This might be in part from me having low insulin.
My joints ached, brain function went down, and my skin felt very sensitive.
I had tried it because someone told me their food sensitivities went down on it.
GH felt like it put my immune system in overdrive, and I don’t do well with immune stimulants.
Ways to Increase Your Growth Hormone Levels
Some ways to increase growth hormone level are:
This allows for mobilization of fats in the body (R).
Taking Arginine and Ornithine supplement
Arginine and ornithine supplements have been shown to increase GH levels in athletes (R).
Arginine suppresses somatostatin secretion, an inhibitor of GH secretion (R).
Reducing sugar intake
Not eating before bedtime
GH secretion increases during sleep (R).
Exercising is a very potent stimulator of GH secretion (R).
Both aerobic and resistance exercise result in significant increase in GH secretion (R).
The magnitude of increase in GH secretion correlates with exercise intensity (R).
During sleep, GH secretion increases (R).
Taking Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin stimulates GH secretion (R).
Acetylcholine is capable of releasing growth hormone, especially in depressed patients, and in particular those with high baseline cortisol levels and those who were males. In these people, enhanced growth hormone release may be due to a super sensitive cholinergic system (R).
Ways to Decrease GH
Some ways to decrease growth hormone level are:
High sugar diet
- Sugar intake increases blood glucose level, which increases insulin secretion (R).
- Insulin inhibits GH secretion, lowering GH level (R).
High fat diet
- The increase in free fatty acid levels in the blood leads to lower GH levels (R).
Stress and cortisol (steroid hormone)
- Indirect calorimetry study showed that acromegaly patients exhibited higher metabolic rates than the growth-hormone deficient patients (R).
- GH secretion surges during slow wave sleep (R).
- Altered GH/IGF-I levels are implicated in the long-term complications associated with diabetes. While GH/IGF-I are not essential for the early changes involved in these complications they may still play an important role in their development, especially proliferative retinopathy (R).
- Although the mechanism of action of SMS 201-995 in pain remains unclear, the rapid and efficacious analgesic effect of this compound may be one more indication for its use in pituitary tumors (R).
- Baseline BMRs in GH-deficient (GHD) patients were in the lower part of the reference range, but BMR and the ratio between BMR and FFM (BMR/FFM) were not significantly lower than in a carefully selected control group (R).
- BMR increased between 0 and 6 weeks (mean +/- SD: from 6.68 +/- 1.55 to 7.75 +/- 1.35 MJ/24 h, P < .001) and then remained unchanged between 6 and 26 weeks (R).