Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced, stored and secreted by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. It is a hormone that is widely known for its powerful anabolic (muscle building) effects as well as its lipotropic (breakdown and utilization of body fat) effects. The overall result of these effects is an increase in lean tissue mass and a decrease in body fat.
There are five ways that have been documented in the scientific literature to increase the circulating blood levels of Human Growth Hormone.
First, the amino acid Arginine was been shown to increase circulating levels of HGH after both injection (1) and oral administration (2). The drawback with the use of arginine is that very high doses, over 10 grams daily, were needed to achieve the increase in HGH. Before recommending this it would be important to determine the side effects of prolonged supplementation with mega doses of arginine. There are suggestions that bone growth, especially in the forehead area could be a potentially negative consequence.
Second, similar to arginine, its amino acid metabolite ornithine has been shown to elevate HGH levels after both injection (3) and oral supplementation (4). Again, large amounts were necessary (12 grams) and dosages of this size were seen to immediately cause diarrhea and moderate to severe stomach cramps. Based on this and the possibility of more serious, hidden, long term side effects the use of mega doses of ornithine cannot be recommended.
Third, oral administration of gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) to both men and women has shown rapid increases in HGH (5). GABA is an amino acid neurotransmitter that signals the pituitary to release HGH. Research into GABA has been varied with no negative side effects ever reported with either short term or long term use. As little as two grams of GABA taken immediately before bed should promote the development of lean tissue while decreasing body fat.
Fourth, it has been found that the injection of biosynthetic Growth Hormone to young adults (ages 22-33) and to older men (ages 61-81) resulted in lean tissue shifts (6,7). However, you should be aware that the use of this hormone is strictly regulated by the pharmaceutical company that produces it and that it is difficult to obtain even with a Doctor’s prescription. Black market varieties of growth hormone should be completely avoided as they are normally phony or very harmful. This includes the highly popular European GH obtained from pituitaries at autopsy. Many bodybuilders have contracted a life threatening disease called Jacob-Creutzfeld Disease from this preparation..
Fifth, vigorous weight training has been demonstrated to increase HGH (8). The extent of the increase depends on the number of sets completed and the amount of rest between sets. The more aggressive and intense the workout, the more HGH is released.
In review, many athletes today are obsessed with increasing their levels of Human Growth Hormone. Consequently, there are many potions and brews on gym shelves to accommodate this desire. The only two safe methods that have been scientifically validated are intense weight training exercise and GABA supplementation.
1. Merimee, T.J.; Rabinowitz, D. and Fineberg, S.E. Arginine-initiated release of human growth hormone. New England Journal of Medicine, 1969, 280, 1434-1438.
2. Pearson, D. and Shaw, S. Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach, Warner Press, New York, N.Y., pg.477.
3. Evain-Brion, D.; Donnadieu, M.; Roger, M. and Job, J.C. Simultaneous study of somatotropic and corticotropic pituitary secretions during ornithine infusion test. Clinical Endocrinology, 1982, 17, 119-122.
4. Bucchi, L.; Hickson, J.F.; Pivarnik, J.M.; Wolinsky, I.; McMahon, J.C. and Turner, S.D. Ornithine ingestion and growth hormone release in bodybuilders. Nutrition Research, 1990, 10, 239-245.
5. Cavagnini, F.; Invitti, C.; Pinto, M.; Maraschini, C., DiLandro, A.; Dubini, A. and Marelli, A. Effect of acute and repeated administration of gamma aminobutryic acid (GABA) on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man. Acta Endocrinologica, 1980, 93, 149-154.
6. Kraemer, W.J.; Marchitelli, L.; Gordon, S.E.; Harman, E.; Dziados, J.E.; Mello, R.; Frykman, P.; McCurry, D. and Fleck, S.J. Hormonal and growth factor responses to heavy resistance exercise protocols. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1990, 69, 1442-1450.
7. Crist, D.M.; Peake, G.T.; Egan, P.A. and Waters, D.L. Body composition response to exogenous GH during training in highly conditioned adults. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1988, 65, 579-584.
8. Rudman, D.; Feller, A.G.; Nagraj, H.S.; Gergans, G.A.; Lalitha, P.Y.; Goldberg, A.F.; Schlenker, R.A.; Cohn, L.; Rudman, I.W. and Mattson, D.E. Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old. New England Journal of Medicine, 1990, 323, 1-6.