Human Growth Hormone

What’s the straight dope on this stuff? My wife is taking HGHX liquid every day. Is she the most gullible person on earth, or am I the most skeptical? I’m just afraid she’s going to live to be 200 years old and I’ll look like an old white prune if I don’t join her…

I thought HGH was for kids only. I don’t think adults can grow taller.

I don’t know if it really works, but my fiancé’s dad is taking it. It’s supposed to “fix” your metabolism and keep you healthy.
I don’t think kids are supposed to take it; according to Carl, it can really mess up anyone under 40.


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I’m not familiar with hGHX liquid–a quick web search came up with more GH products than I cared to read about. Is this a liquid diet supplement that you can just buy in the store or on-line? If it is, just remember that GH is a protein, and unless protected against digestive enzymes, it becomes expensive poop if taken orally. Think about why carnivores aren’t screwed up by the hormones present in their prey.

I would have posted sooner, but couldn’t get the search function to work so I could refer to a previous discussion on this topic.


GH = hGH = human Growth Hormone = somatotropin
GHRH = Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone = somatorelin
IGF1 = Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 = somatomedin C

soma = body/physique
medin = mediating protein
tropin = growth-stimulating protein
relin = hormone-stimulating protein

Normal physiology review:

  1. Brain tissue (hypothalamus) makes GHRH which goes by special blood vessels (portal circulation) from the brain to the pituitary without detouring through the heart. Since GHRH is quickly broken down in the bloodstream, it has almost no effect on tissues other than the pituitary, where it stimulates GH-producing cells to make & release GH into the circulation.

  2. GH may have some direct effects, but most effects are mediated by stimulating the liver to make & release IGF1.

Dwarfism, then may result from:
Hypothalamic failure OR
Pituitary failure.

Hypothalamic failure is more common. Most cases are due to some kind of developmental abnormality, and so are not genetic. This responds to treatment with GH, or more recently, GHRH.

A whole different kind of dwarfism (Luron dwarfs) is caused by a mutation that prevents the liver from making IGF1. This does NOT respond at all to GH treatment; in fact these individuals already have VERY high levels of GH to try to overcome the IGF1 deficiency.

Doctors have been able to give GH treatment by using extracts from ground-up human pituitaries for sometime. This stopped being acceptable as treatment however, as doctors gained an awareness of prion disease (Jakob-Kreutzfeld/mad-cow, Kuru) that could be transmitted by these extracts.

About 10 years ago, Pharmaceutical companies developed a recombinant hGH product (rGH) made by E. coli. THey poured money into the development; several companies all got FDA approval to sell their product at about the same time. They quickly saturated the market for GH-deficient short kids. Their secret hopes of expanding sales/treatment to non-GH-deficient short kids has not occurred to a large extent. Yes, it happens; no, it is not supposed to happen. And yes, there are probably doctors somewhere who will treat kids destined to be 6’4" to try to make them 6’10" to enhance their future chances at NBA stardom…

rGH treatment, by the way, IS expensive. Treating a typical kid runs in the $5,000 - $10,000 PER YEAR range.

But the drug companies still wanted to sell their product to more people. Guess what - when GH-deficient kids become adults, they remain GH-deficient. Other adults become GH-deficient because of surgery or radiation treatment for brain or pituitary tumors. Studies do show that, after there is no more potential for growth, GH does still optimize certain body features. It increases muscle mass, decreases body fat, improves cardiac muscle strength, and tweaks many systems, with the overall effect of helping to keep the body from aging as rapidly.

So, if GH slows down the effects of aging, and the pituitary generally makes less & less GH as we get older, can we slow down the effects of aging by giving rGH? The answer is a qualified yes…

If you take an adult who is GH-deficient & give them GH, they will, over the course of a year, gain ~ 5 pounds muscle & lose 5 pounds of fat. They will have some more energy & strength. This is what $3-5K/year forever will buy you.

In general, insurance companies are reluctantly agreeing to pay ~ 100K over 10-15 years to allow a GH-deficient kid to attain normal height. Some are allowing these kids to stay on rGH injections, if there is a significant symptomatic effect when injections are stopped (talk about placebo effects…). A few are allowing treatment for GH-deficient adults. I don’t think any are paying for treatment in older (>50 year old) individuals who just aren’t as peppy as they used to be.

GH is a classic example of the medical axiom that if too little is bad, too much is worse. There are conditions (pituitary tumors) in which too much GH is produced. This leads to a condition called acromegaly, in whch the soft tissues of the hands & feet grow, the facial features become coarsened, & numerous complications, such as diabetes, high BP, heart failure, increased risk of heart attacks, increased cancer risks, sleep apnea, & carpal tunnel syndrome, develop over time.

GH is only available by prescription, only available as an injection, and is very costly.
GHRH is only available by prescription, AFAIK is only available by injection (but I may be wrong here), and moderately costly.

I don’t know what is in HGHX, Geetsbone, but I suspect it’s the simple polypoptide molecule GHRH. Most of it does get broken down in the gut, but some does get absorbed. It MAY marginally increase GH production; for the reasons listed above, though, I hope in your wife’s case it does not.

I would steer WAY clear of any GH-type product sold OTC. At the best they’re a waste of $$$$$. At the worst, they may work as purported & cause serious complications, and premature death (People with untreated acromegaly die an average of 10-20 years prematurely due to the “side-effects” of GH)

Sue from El Paso

Majormd–right on!!! GH supplements over the counter? Especially for bodybuilding types. I got a bridge to sell.