What are women’s Human Growth Hormone supplements?
Simply put, Human Growth Hormone – HGH – stimulates the growth of essentially all tissues of the body, including bone.
HGH also works with other female hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and pregnenolone to regulate body temperature, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function. Additionally, it is thought to work in conjunction with collagen to maintain skin and muscle composition.
This article is specifically focused on HGH supplements for women. We’ve obtained input from top experts on this topic to offer you a comprehensive look at its uses and benefits, potential side effects and risks, as well as expected results.
In This Guide:
- What Are HGH Supplements
- Ideal Candidates
- Do Women’s HGH Supplements Actually Work?
- Potential Dangers and Side Effects
- Potential Results
HGH supplements, which come in the form of capsules or powders, are amino acids that promote pituitary production of HGH, explained Deborah Maragopoulos, who has 30 years experience as an integrative nurse practitioner with expertise in neuro-immune endocrinology.
An even deeper explanation has been provided by Dr. Annthea Fenwick, a fitness expert in Southern California who looked extensively at hormones and Hormone Replacement Therapy while researching how exercise and nutrition affect hormones levels of peri-menopausal women for her Doctoral dissertation.
Dr. Fenwick noted that the pituitary gland releases six hormones, growth hormone (HGH), prolactin (PRL), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
“HGH stimulates the growth of essentially all tissues of the body, including bone,” said Dr. Fenwick, owner of Achieving Fitness After 50, located in Nevada City, California.
She added that HGH supplements fall into two categories: medically prescribed injections for individuals that are deficient in HGH; and dietary supplements in pill or powder form that use a synthetically produced version of the hormone.
As far as the cost is concerned, HGH supplementation costs $40 per month for pills and up to $220 for vials to use for injections.
“This is over-the-counter synthetic HGH supplementation and not medical grade,” Dr. Fenwick explained. “Prescription HGH injections would cost significantly more and depend upon your insurance.”
HGH therapy is needed in women going through certain medical conditions that are linked to the loss of Human Growth Hormone, according to Dr. Fenwick.
She said there are only three DEA-approved uses for HGH among adults: HIV/AIDS-related muscle wasting, short-bowel syndrome, and adult growth hormone deficiency, which can be found in three out of every 10,000 people.
“The vast majority of HGH prescriptions that aren’t for children are off-label, and considered anti-aging treatments,” Dr. Fenwick said.
On the flipside, some women would not make ideal candidates for HGH supplements, Dr. Fenwick warned.
“HGH is a hormone, and its main purpose is cellular growth,” Dr. Fenwick explained. “If an individual has a family history of any type of cancer, supplementation of hormones without a doctor monitoring and regulating, may significantly increase the risk of cancer or increase the speed of cancer’s growth.”
Typically, women might start taking HGH supplements when they are between 45 and 55 years old due to age-related bone loss, said Maragopoulos, who is known as “the hormone queen” and is an international best-selling author of Hormones In Harmony®. She is also the owner of Full Circle Family Health in Southern California.
“Ideal candidates are women with growth hormone deficiency as evidenced by a low serum IGF-1, with significant loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) or bone mass (osteoporosis),” Maragopoulos said.
According to Dr. Fenwick, a HGH deficiency can be detected early in children and teens not meeting growth standards with a blood test.
“We can see deficiency in adults, but it is rare,” she said.
Women that do not have a HGH deficiency usually start taking it between and 30 and 50 years of age, for its proclaimed anti-aging properties.
“We see the initial changes in muscle mass and hormone levels start to decline after the age of 30, but most of these changes are minimal,” Dr. Fenwick noted. “Most women will notice the effects of these changes in their 40s and 50s and will begin to question how to make changes.”
To further understand the benefits of HGH supplements for women, the next section offers more details based on scientific studies.
The following three investigations on this topic were provided by Dr. Fenwick, who answers questions from women all over the world on hormonal changes with age, and how their lifestyle habits will affect their body.
A 2003 investigation described in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism evaluated HGH intake in older women with HGH deficiency. Growth hormone enhanced leg and hand strength in most of the subjects tested. It also increased lean body mass and decreased total body fat. More importantly, the women reported few HGH-induced adverse events.
A 2010 investigation published in the Annals of Medicine looked at HGH-facilitated exercise in younger women. Subjects taking the hormone sprinted faster on a stationary bicycle, but they did not jump higher or have a greater aerobic capacity. These effects of growth hormone disappeared within weeks of ending HGH treatment, and the women experienced no consistent side effects during the study.
Aging decreases growth hormone levels and increases arterial plaque development. These factors often co-vary which suggests that HGH intake could prevent cardiovascular disease in older adults. A 2004 investigation offered in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism tested this hypothesis in younger and older women with HGH deficiency. The primary outcome measure in this study was cholesterol scores which predict cardiovascular risk. Results indicated that HGH injections reduced both total cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol levels.
According to Dr. Fenwick, HGH hasn’t been studied that much, especially in supplement form (most studies have focused on HGH injections), although proponents of HGH swear by its rejuvenating effects.
“Doctors have been using it for years in children who suffer from abnormal growth problems, and it is sometimes used to regulate blood sugar in diabetics with documented results,” Dr. Fenwick said.
She noted that the use of HGH injections and supplements has been rising among athletes and celebrities without the research to back up its age-defying claims.
“HGH injections are only legal when prescribed by a doctor, and it’s illegal to distribute HGH for any reasons other than medical use, though you can purchase supplements since most use a synthetic version of the hormone,” Dr. Fenwick said.
She added that a 1990 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that synthetic injections of HGH led to muscle gain and fat loss.
“However, the study was eventually denounced since most follow-up studies have failed to show the same results,” Dr. Fenwick said.
Maragopoulos added that a study conducted on elderly women with heart failure showed that amino acid supplements did not increase HGH levels, although a meal replacement drink did increase HGH levels.
Before you decide to take HGH supplements, it’s important to understand the potential dangers and side effects. The positive effects of HGH intake often come at a price, warned Dr. Fenwick, who discovered the following through her extensive research.
Growth hormone use typically increases fluid retention or bloating. A 2005 investigation presented in the periodical "Clinical Endocrinology" evaluated body composition in younger women receiving HGH injections. Many subjects experienced greater fluid retention and complained of bloating. Detailed analysis revealed that most of the water retained was extracellular and not intracellular. These findings likely explain why HGH also reduced lean body mass in this study.
Growth hormone use can produce symptoms of diabetes. A 2005 investigation published in the journal "Metabolism" looked at diabetic markers in middle-aged women. These subjects took growth hormone to correct their low HGH levels. Growth hormone intake decreased insulin sensitivity and thus increased fasting glucose in most of the women tested. Such changes may lead to the development of diabetes.
Other Side Effects
Additionally, HGH might cause a number of side effects for healthy adults, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Increased insulin resistance
- Swelling in the arms and legs (edema)
- Joint and muscle pain
“Some research suggests that side effects of human growth hormone treatments might be more likely in older adults than in younger people,” Dr. Fenwick said. “Because the studies of healthy adults taking human growth hormone have been short term, it isn’t clear whether the side effects could eventually dissipate or become worse.”
She added that the big concern would be a risk for breast cancer.
“Long-term concerns for HGH use is increasing one’s risk for cancer,” Dr. Fenwick said. “Cancer is just unbridled cell growth, and so giving someone HGH – which is used to grow cells – is like adding fuel to a fire.”
While there are potential risks, there are also potential positive results. Dr. Fenwick noted that HGH therapy in women has been advertised to:
- Restore sexual desire and function
- Stop or reverse the graying of hair
- Prevent hair loss
- Improve bone density and reverse osteoporosis
- Stop excess weight gain
- Prevent cardio disorders
- Improve life expectancy
- Improve memory
- Strengthen the immune system
- Speed up recovery after heavy exercise
However, “changes with any type of hormone use do not happen with a single shot or pill,” Dr. Fenwick said. “The idea that an individual would make any significant difference in terms of loss of fat or gain of muscle is incorrect over a short time period.”
Most supplements that use HGH combine it with other hormones, like anabolic steroids, to help make changes in the body over time, she said.
“HGH traditionally works in combination with other hormones produced by the body to truly have an effect,” Dr. Fenwick explained. “Taking HGH alone, unless for HGH deficiency, has not been shown to cause significant improvement.”
Growth hormone responds to changes in sleep-wake cycle, exercise, and diet, Dr. Fenwick said.
“If you have specific concerns about aging, talk with a professional about proven ways to improve your health,” Dr. Fenwick advised. “Remember, healthy lifestyle choices – such as eating a healthy diet and including physical activity in your daily routine – can help you feel and look your best as you get older.”
Maragopoulos noted that a woman must exercise in order for HGH supplements to be effective. And since more HGH is produced at night than during the day, “I recommend using HGH amino acid supplements before bed on an empty stomach for greatest effects.”
It is critical that women’s other hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, thyroxine, and insulin – are balanced before initiating HGH supplementation, Maragopoulos further emphasized.
“All the hormones work in harmony with one another,” Maragopoulos said. “Increasing HGH without hypothalamic and hormonal balance may initiate cancerous growth.”
Many women will take HGH to help slow the march of time and aging on their bodies, Dr. Fenwick added.
“We all want to look and feel our best and most people feel that aging is the antithesis of our best,” Dr. Fenwick said. “While we all want to cheat time; there is no shortcut or hack to looking and feeling the way we believe we should. Taking care of ourselves, leading a healthy lifestyle, talking to friends and family, following our dreams, and cherishing life is the only way I know that has proven to help me be the best I can.”
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