Human growth hormone (hGH) is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It’s important for growth, cell regeneration, and cell reproduction.

HGH helps to maintain, build, and repair healthy tissue in the brain and other organs. This hormone can help to speed up healing after an injury and repair muscle tissue after exercise. This helps to build muscle mass, boost metabolism, and burn fat.

HGH is also said to benefit the quality and appearance of the skin. It’s said to and treat age-related diseases. However, research supporting these claims is limited.

HGH works by stimulating metabolic processes in cells to activate metabolism. It stimulates the liver to make an insulin-like protein that produces cartilage cells. This plays a part in bone and organ growth, as well as muscle protein synthesis.

Although hGH is a naturally occurring substance, it’s also available in synthetic forms as a treatment or supplement. But what are the risks of taking it?

Synthetic hGH is used to treat poor growth in children and adults. It can also be used to treat with short bowel syndrome or muscle loss due to HIV or AIDS.

Lack of growth may be the result of medical causes such as:

Injections of hGH can help people with a growth hormone deficiency to:

  • increase exercise capacity
  • improve bone density
  • build muscle mass
  • reduce body fat

Because of these benefits, many people use hGH to enhance their athletic ability. It’s sometimes used in combination with anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and to enhance athletic performance.

Some people believe hGH has anti-aging effects since natural levels of hGH decrease with age. It’s also said to naturally increase testosterone. However, it should be noted that not all of these benefits have been scientifically proven. The use of hGH for athletic and anti-aging purposes is controversial due to this lack of scientific evidence and its potential side effects.

HGH is injected intramuscularly (IM) and subcutaneously (under the skin) if it’s been prescribed. Sometimes, illicit manufacturers offer hGH in an injectable form as well.

HGH and substances that promote hGH production are sold online by some companies as dietary supplements, which claim to have the same benefits as the injections. These supplements are sometimes known as human growth hormone releasers. Some of them are said to increase hGH levels in your body because of ingredients such as amino acids.

However, there’s no evidence that these supplements have the same results as prescribed hGH. Homeopathic remedies containing human growth hormone also exist. Evidence supporting their benefits is lacking.

is a popular brand of dietary supplement. It’s said to be able to naturally raise hGH levels because of the amino acids it contains. This is said to have an anti-aging effect. SeroVital also claims to build stronger bones, increase lean muscle mass, and reduce body fat. These claims need more study. SeroVital contains no hGH.

There are several side effects that may go along with hGH use. These are possible with the prescribed version, as well as an illicit form of hGH since the content isn’t completely known and regulated. Side effects may affect older adults more than younger people. The long-term effects of hGH aren’t known.

Possible side effects of excess hGH injections include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • nerve, muscle, or joint pain
  • swelling of the arms and legs from fluid retention (edema)
  • high cholesterol levels
  • numb and tingling skin
  • an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • growth of cancerous tumors
  • growth of facial features, hands, and feet (acromegaly)
  • mood changes, dependency, and withdrawal
  • an enlarged heart
  • low blood sugar
  • liver damage
  • fatigue
  • enlarged breasts in men (gynecomastia)

Possible side effects of SeroVital differ from those of hGH since SeroVital is an amino acid blend that doesn’t contain hGH. Side effects of the amino acids in SeroVital may include:

  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • increased asthma symptoms
  • gout
  • low blood pressure
  • allergic reaction
  • heartburn

HGH should be used with care and consideration. Only use hGH that you get via a doctor’s prescription. Check in regularly with your doctor while you’re taking it.

Take special care to note how your body reacts and if you experience any adverse reactions. If you wish to strengthen your body or improve your health but don’t have a condition known to cause growth hormone deficiency, you may consider finding other ways to do this. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and engage in healthy habits to improve your overall health and well-being.

Q:

Can hGH give women bulky, masculine-looking muscles?

A:

There’s no evidence available to suggest that taking hGH will give healthy women (with normal growth hormone levels) the appearance of bulky muscles. It may help women lose fat and gain lean muscle mass, but this is dependent on many characteristics specific to each woman.

Lindsay Slowiczek, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.