Can growth hormone and IGF-1 reverse ageing, help with body composition and repair injuries?
This one is about supplements and biochemistry. There are a large number of supplements out there which claim all sorts and most of them are just crap. However, there are compounds out there which offer lots of genuine benefits, but what is the catch?
Today we are briefly looking at growth hormone and IGF-1. There is a lot more to say about these hormones but the blog will get too complicated if I try and put it all into one post.
The benefits of growth hormones are pretty extensive and include:
anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, faster recovery from exercise, healing tissue, neuron growth, improved brain function, increased bone density better vision, injury repair, better skin, hair growth, better sleep, improved immune system, improves some cases of fatty liver, anti-obesity and increase in lean muscle.
As we age the level of growth hormone declines.
This is why people like to use it as a supplement. So below is a very brief description of where growth hormone comes from naturally in the body.
Growth hormone release is not continuous; it is released in a number of ‘bursts’ or pulses from the pituitary gland every three to five hours when insulin levels are low (growth hormone and insulin oppose each other). Insulin is usually low in the morning, in between meals, during fasting, during and post workout and at night.
Growth hormone release is caused by another hormone (growth hormone-releasing hormone) which is released from a point higher up in the brain (the hypothalamus) and it causes the pituitary gland to release the growth hormone, this is why people like to use supplements like GHRP-2, Mod-GRF, Ipamorelin, hexarelin and such like as they cause your brain to make and release more growth hormone.
Growth hormone travels in the blood to the liver, its major target organ and stimulates production of Insulin like growth factor -1 (IGF-1). This means that MOST of the effects of growth hormone are mediated or caused by IGF-1. IGF-1 ultimately inhibits growth hormone production by a negative feed back loop, saying ‘We have enough growth hormone at the moment, thank you’.
This is why people like to take IGF-1 as a supplement (IGF-LR3 and IGF DES) as it has many the benefits of growth hormone as most of the effects of growth hormone are mediated by IGF-1. Growth hormone is very expensive, not legal in some countries and can be fake. IGF-1 used to be very expensive but now is now more affordable, although sometime the quality if non pharmaceutical grade IGF-1 can be low, particularly IGF-LR3 as it is a large peptide which can degrade if not stored properly. IGF-DES is a short acting version of IGF with a half life of 30mins and less prone to degradation than IGF-1.
There are differences between the exact biochemical effects of IGF-1 and growth hormone. Growth hormone offers more benefits than IGF-1 alone for injury repair, improved skin tone, repair of connective tissue and fat loss.
So as you can see there are lots of ways to manipulate growth hormone using supplements or lifestyle.
Is it safe to take these hormones?
This is a complicated question. It depends on a the persons age and metabolic state.
For 1 month in a sensible dose, yes probably, but not certainly.
IGF-1 and growth hormone will make ALL tissue grow, including organs, particularly in high doses (some men say their penis got bigger!). The scientific literature is very mixed about whether growth hormone or IGF-1 CAUSE cancer or not, but taking a growth factor of any kind for long periods if a tumor is present is very very unwise.
Growth factors such as insulin and IGF-1 activate mTOR which is the bodies main anabolic pathway, which is why too much mTOR has implication is cancer. Not enough mTOR activation is not good either as it leads to loss of muscle mass or inability to grow and repair new cells. See my blog on mTOR for more information. Fasting inhibits mTOR and encourages growth hormone release to preserve muscle tissue and help use body fat as fuel.
Growth hormone opposes insulin as it encourages lipolysis (fat breakdown) and fat usage as fuel, so it raises blood sugar. This means there is a risk of becoming insulin resistant with excessive or extend growth hormone, which is why users take metformin or berberine with growth hormone. Growth hormone is not a good choice for those who are insulin resistant or type-2 diabetic already unless they seek medical assistance.
This topic is one of those for you to do your own research!