Because our bodies make less growth hormone as we get older, people sometimes wonder if synthetic human growth hormone—often marketed as a miracle drug that can increase muscle mass, boost libido, improve energy levels, and more—may be the anti-aging solution they’re seeking. But does HGH really work the way the people selling it claim it does?
Personally, I only prescribe pharmaceutical-grade subcutaneous HGH injections to people with positive tests for innately low levels of growth hormone or HIV lipodystrophy. This is because I think it’s dangerous to give HGH unnecessarily. Nevertheless, plenty of clinicians and companies are willing to sell it to patients—and many of them are being shut down for promoting the use of growth hormone inappropriately.
There are also a lot of fake sublingual and oral HGH products out there that have not been shown to be effective and may contain dangerous ingredients, some of which aren’t even disclosed on the packaging. Furthermore, many companies and websites have been called out by the Food and Drug Administration for making unsubstantiated claims.
But what about the real thing? Even if you find a doctor willing to give you HGH injections, is it really worth it? While it may in fact do things like increase lean muscle mass and boost energy, taking HGH itself when not needed and at the levels being prescribed can cause serious side effects. In one review, researchers hoping to determine safety and efficacy of HGH use for older adults examined 31 studies totaling 220 participants who got human growth hormone and 227 control subjects who did not. While study duration and dosage varied, those receiving injections did experience a gain in lean body mass and a decrease in body fat compared to the control group. However, they also reported a high rate of side effects like fluid retention, breast enlargement, and joint pain. Considering the relatively minor gains versus the many adverse effects, the review’s authors concluded that HGH is not a safe anti-aging therapy, and I agree with this conclusion.
If HGH isn’t the answer to stopping the clock, what is? Well, peptides that boost your own body’s natural production of growth hormone can be a safer way to increase levels. These are short chains of amino acids that act as signaling molecules, coaxing the brain to make more growth hormone, but using its own natural pulsatile cycles. It’s a more physiologic and safer way to gently boost your levels. Examples of such growth-hormone boosting peptides are Sermorelin, Ipamorelin, and CJC-1295.
These all need to be prescribed and monitored by a doctor (as we do here at Vault Health) and most need to be given via subcutaneous injection.. But taken over time, they can be remarkably effective in maintaining and improving long-term health—all with much less risk than synthetic HGH.
Want to learn more about how peptides can help you safely reach optimum health? Book your first online visit with Vault today.
Myles Spar, MD, is Vault Health’s Chief Medical Officer and a leading authority in integrative men’s health. Committed to empowering men to achieve their goals through greater wellbeing, he is an author, teacher, TED talk speaker, and a frequent contributor to Men’s Journal, the L.A. Times, and the Dr. Oz. show. Dr. Spar is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, is board certified in internal medicine, and has completed fellowships in health services research at UCLA (where he earned a masters in public health) and in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. From testosterone therapy to physical and cognitive performance kits, Vault Health is committed to providing men with the most cutting edge and valuable tools available—all delivered to your home and managed through telemedicine.