Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, is a naturally occurring growth hormone in humans. It is also available in a recombinant version to treat children that have growth hormone deficiencies. In addition, HGH is used by athletes to increase muscle mass.
Some applications have been approved by the FDA.
Approved Uses for Adults
In adults, the following are approved HGH applications.
- Short bowel syndrome is a condition in which your bowels are unable to properly absorb nutrients. This is caused by severe intestinal diseases or, in rarer cases, the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine (commonly for cancer treatment).
- HGH deficiency cause be caused by rare pituitary tumors or the treatment to reduce or remove these tumors. In these cases, HGH therapy is approved.
- Certain diseases cause muscle to atrophy to a life-threatening level. This includes muscle-wasting associated with victims of HIV/AIDS.
The most common uses for HGH are not approved for use by the FDA. The hormone is used with other so-called performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, to build muscle and improve athletic prowess. This usage is experimental and dangerous, since the exact impact of HGH on athletes is largely unknown.
Implications of HGH Treatment for Adults
Deficiency of growth hormone (GH) in adults causes decreased muscle mass and exercise capacity. It leads to an increase in stomach fat that can impair organ function as well as the quality of life. Further, this triggers a change in the body’s lipids (fat in the bloodstream) and increases cardiovascular risk. Other impacts include a decrease in bone density and an increased risk of death.
Proponents believe that proper dosages of HGH replacement therapy has low risks and high effectivity. They point to a low incidence of side effects and a high impact on the impacts of low GH decreased above. So far, there seems to be good results indicated on mortality and cardiovascular impacts. Other areas are less conclusive.