Written by Myles Spar
Posted on: January 23, 2018
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? As I explain in part one of this series, my years of research on this controversial topic have revealed the high physiological and financial costs of human growth hormone.
Personally, I only prescribe pharmaceutical-grade subcutaneous HGH injections to people with positive tests for innately low levels of growth hormone or HIV lipodystrophy. Not only do I think it’s dangerous to give HGH unnecessarily, I could lose my medical license over it. Despite this, plenty of clinicians and companies are willing to sell it to patients—and many of them are being shut down. 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. I touched on some of these scam sales in my first post, but let’s take a closer look at some of the enforcement actions reported by Quackwatch.
In 2003, the Massachusetts company Nature’s Youth, LLC completed the voluntary destruction of almost 6,000 boxes—around $515,000 worth—of their product “Nature’s Youth HGH” after the FDA found the company was making unsubstantiated claims about the product that were false and misleading (and therefore illegal). According to the FDA, the company claimed their product was a “proprietary blend of amino acids and precursor nutrients which enhance the body’s natural production of Human Growth Factors and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1” and “your body’s best defense against aging.” They also falsely claimed Nature’s Youth HGH would “improve physical performance, speed recovery from training, increase cardiac output, and increase immune functions.” In addition to destroying its product, the company said it would change its labeling and marketing to comply with the law. Fun fact: Quackwatch reports Nature’s Youth was promoted by Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, who said on the company’s 2002 website that he used the product to stay “virile, vigorous, potent and fecund.”
A company called The Compounding Center, Inc. and its founder were indicted in 2009 for illegally distributing HGH. In addition to advertising the use of HGH as an anti-ager, nine doctors employed by the company allegedly bought more than $1.1 million worth of HGH between 2001 and 2006. The company’s founder, who also acted as wholesale manager, was charged with selling HGH to undercover operatives even after they told him the HGH was for (illegal) use by bodybuilders and athletes.
Remember when I mentioned I could lose my license for inappropriately prescribing HGH to my patients? Several physicians have been disciplined for this, and Quackwatch cites a handful of examples. One of these is Edmund D. Corpuz, ND, who had his license suspended indefinitely when he didn’t respond to charges he prescribed HGH for weight loss to patients he only “saw” via Skype. Signing a consent order six months later, Corpuz got his license back after being fined and put on probation for two years.
Okay, so there are a lot of shady people promoting fake HGH products. What about the real thing? Even if you find a doctor willing to give you HGH injections, is it really worth it? Part one of this post includes information on the vast amount of research showing that, while it may in fact do things like increase lean muscle mass and boost energy, HGH 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? Lifestyle changes can make a huge difference when it comes to aging—see my list of 10 tips to live younger longer for more information. If you need help putting together your own anti-aging protocol, schedule a free conversation with me and I’ll help you design the most effective plan for maintaining your youthful vigor, reducing hair loss, and increasing libido.