Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Human growth hormone (GH) is a peptide hormone released from the anterior pituitary gland, which is under control of the hypothalamus. GH stimulates the secretion of somatomedins from the liver, which are a family of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) hormones. These, along with GH, stimulate linear skeletal growth in children.
In adults, GH has several metabolic effects. It stimulates protein synthesis in many tissues, elevates release of fatty acids from adipose tissue, increases fat oxidation (fat burning) and boosts resting caloric expenditure (i.e. basal metabolic rate). GH also inhibits uptake of glucose by muscle tissue while stimulating uptake of amino acids. The amino acids are used in the synthesis of proteins, and the muscle shifts to using fatty acids as a source of energy.
GH secretion occurs in a pulsatile fashion (short spike secretion) at night during deep sleep. Thus, people suffering from sleep apnea, insomnia, or other sleep disorders may have lower than optimal levels of GH.
Declines in GH secretion are seen in people with histories of traumatic brain injury (any head injury that caused a loss of consciousness), sleep problems, chronic illness, and during the natural aging process. Repetitive head trauma, as seen in contact sports, has been shown to cause dysfunction of an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. This area of the brain controls the regulation of many hormones, including GH.
Two popular theories for decline of GH over time exist. One explanation is that as the pituitary ages it loses its ability to secrete GH. The other theory is that stress, illness and aging cause an increase in the release of somatostatin; a hormone which inhibits the release of GH.
GH therapy in GH deficient patients decreases body fat and increases muscle mass, bone density, and energy levels. It also improves sexual function, immune system function and sleep quality. GH therapy also enhances weight loss in obese patients and increases vitality in older adults.
Side effects, such as: joint swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, an increased risk of diabetes, and decreased thyroid functions have been reported. These are usually related to supraphysiolgic doses (higher than optimal doses). Long-term use of these high doses can also lead to acromegaly (thickening the bones of the jaw, fingers and toes), or gigantism. These side effects can, for the most part, be eliminated by lowering the GH dose. Low dose GH therapy rarely gives rise to side effects in the first place.
Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH)
There are other ways to increase natural GH levels in the body besides direct administration of the hormone. Doctors have prescribed growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) to stimulate the pituitary release of GH. Traditionally this had been used to test for growth hormone deficiency, but now it is used therapeutically as well.
Advice from the experts:
It is extremely important for anyone wishing to try GH to seek medical advice from a physician. Laboratory tests, history and physical examination all play a critical role in the determination of human growth hormone deficiency. If a person who doesn't have GH deficiency blindly starts using GH, the risks for negative side effects increases. Some of these side effects are irreversible and very dangerous.
At Modern Medical & Wellness our core focus is to take all aspects of your health and well-being in to account. Therefore, here at Modern Medical & Wellness, we focus on diagnosing and treating adult-onset growth hormone deficiency (AOGHD).
In order to prescribe replacement therapy, there are several tests that must be done:
- First, we will do an extensive blood test. This will allow our health care professionals to interpret a set of medical test results from blood samples and determine your baseline levels.
- Next, we ask you to fill out an extensive health questionnaire to identify your symptoms.
Once we receive the results of both of these tests, our health care professionals can determine if you meet the requirements for AOGHD, or if further testing is indicated. If it is shown that further testing is indicated we will do a growth hormone stimulation test. This test measures the level of growth hormone in the blood after you receive medication that triggers the release of growth hormones. The test measures the ability of the pituitary gland to release human growth hormones. The results of that test will help determine if a growth hormone deficiency is present and growth hormone therapy is warranted.
Do to the fact that human growth hormone is highly regulated by the federal government, all these steps are necessary in order to prescribe human growth hormones.
Even if you are not a candidate for growth hormone therapy, you might have other hormonal deficiencies and/or disturbances. At Modern Medical & Wellness we take a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and all hormones, and we specialize getting all your labs into their respective optimal health promoting ranges. We also offer diet and fitness consultation to further help you prevent the ravages of getting older, and to keep your vigor and youthfulness.
Please call one of our patient care coordinators 702-987-1555 for additional questions and/or to schedule and appointment with Dr. Clayson or Angie Lorenzo, PA-C.