Growth hormone is naturally produced by the pituitary gland within the body, and is responsible for the regeneration of cells. Without this hormone, the body would be unable to increase either muscle mass or bone density and the health of all tissues would suffer, including that of the internal organs.
Although it’s a vital component in the human body, after secretion, HGH stays active in the bloodstream for no more than a few minutes. However, this is sufficient time for the liver to metabolize it, converting HGH into IGF-1, a substance which has anabolic qualities.
There’s typically around 5 nanograms per milliliter in the blood in adult men. In women these levels can rise sharply during childbirth, doubling in quantity. For both genders, the teenage years produce the highest levels of HGH, dropping off in the 20s and falling sharply thereafter.
HGH has been harvested from cadavers since the 1950s but it wasn’t until more than three decades later that a synthetic version was first produced. It was shortly after this that demand for HGH as a performance enhancing drug grew.
The popularity of HGH was so much so that the more chiseled look of bodybuilders in the 1980s, with leaner, hard muscles which looked positively rock-like were attributed to the new inclusion of the hormone.
Fast-forwarding to the modern day, HGH is a common component for any body builder and is often used stacked with other supplements such as anabolic steroids.
Can HGH be taken on its own?
HGH is not the cheapest supplement, and because it can take a while to see results, using it on its own is a more expensive route.
Although it can be used as part of a bulking stack, it won’t produce the best results when used on its own to pack on the pounds. Modest gains are possible but the muscle mass will be lean and of superior quality, rather than sheer bulk.
However, if HGH is being used for the purposes of cutting, it can be used on its own to great effect. Once again, it may not be the cheapest choice but will produce lean, dry muscle while simultaneously shredding fat.
HGH can be stacked with other drugs to maximize benefits without substantially increasing the risk of side effects.
Because HGH has a naturally tendency towards cutting, it can be combined with Clenbuterol in a stack to get a really ripped appearance. Suitable for both beginners and advanced users, this combination is typically used in a three month cycle.
To really max out on a cutting cycle, either winstrol or stanozolol – both anabolic steroids – can be added to the clen/HGH stack. This will provide lean gains, increasing quality muscle mass while simultaneously cutting and hardening too.
How it is administered
HGH has a very short cycle within the body so users typically want it to start acting as quickly as possible after administration.
Injection is the most popular route of administration with both intramuscular and subcutaneous options, depending on personal preference.
Subcutaneous injection is a more traditional route, arising from the previous medical administration methods. However, injecting it intramuscularly will allow it to begin working more quickly so this is often the preferred option for athletes and bodybuilders.
HGH cannot be taken orally as the compound is broken down before it has the desired effect.
HGH is normally measured in IU; 1 mg is roughly equal to 3 IU.
For bodybuilding purposes, between 4-6 IU is required per day. This increases to between 8-16 IU for acute recovery from injury. This type of high level dosage should only be taken for a short period of time.
Half life info
In its natural form, the half life of HGH is extremely short, measurable in minutes rather than hours or days. However, the synthetic form has the addition of 17alpha alkylation which immediately extends the half life by making it more difficult to metabolize.
The exact half life of HGH can be altered further by the supplanting of an ester. This takes much longer to be broken down, allowing the HGH to remain active in the bloodstream for an extended period rather than mere minutes. Therefore, the actual half life of each form of HGH depends on whether an ester is attached, and if so, what type.
However, broadly speaking, without being altered by an additional ester, the half life of HGH is approximately 2.5 hours making it one of the shorter acting performance drugs on the market.
As seen from the above information, HGH is vital to muscle growth and keeping tissues within the body healthy. But it also has other positive effects which aren’t quite as apparent to the eye.
Studies have shown that HGH can be beneficial in warding off the signs of aging, preventing degenerative disease and maintaining maximum mental acuity. Research also suggests that HGH can contribute towards a sense of well-being, increasing energy levels and promoting a health sex drive.
Individuals who were found to have a deficiency in HGH found the complete opposite: they were low in energy, piled on fat, suffered from a low libido and a general sense of malaise.
Some studies suggest that HGH can also help recovery from injury in the short term, allowing a faster repair by building connective tissues within the muscles.
Potential side effects
Unlike certain other types of performance enhancing drugs, no deaths have ever been attributed to the taking of HGH. This doesn’t mean that it is completely free of side effects, but those that can occur tend to be less dangerous.
HGH is not a sex hormone which means that the usual androgenic side effects which can be seen with the use of anabolic steroids aren’t an issue. There’s no risk of oily skin, excess body hair or acceleration of male pattern baldness.
Although as mentioned above, HGH is not a sex hormone, it does still have some interaction estrogen, which means that it can lead to the development of gynecomastia. This may occur when HGH is stacked with an aromatizing anabolic steroid or in the cases of individuals who are particularly sensitive, it may even occur when taken on its own. However, this side effect can easily be combatted with the use of an aromatase inhibitor such as Nolvadex.
Fluid retention is one side effect which is commonly seen among HGH users, although it often dissipates after a few weeks of use. For some individuals, this fluid retention does not resolve and this carries the risk of hypertension, due to the extra volume being carried by the body.
When taken at high doses for longer period HGH can cause a lack of insulin sensitivity, which if prolonged can cause both hypoglycemia and diabetes.
There is no known link between the use of HGH and hair loss. In fact, some studies have suggested that taking HGH in tandem with other medications may even be able to reverse hair loss and slow down aging.
Some sources have suggested that HGH may have a healing effect on the liver, similarly to the way it helps to support other tissues in the body. However, when taken at a higher dosage or for prolonged periods, the HGH can enlarge the liver, which can make it difficult to function properly. This is a relatively rare finding and typically only occurs at a higher, prolonged dose.
Although HGH can be used to enhance muscle growth, there are some indications that it can reduce exercise tolerance, which could inadvertently impact on muscle mass by restricting the ability to train.
High doses of HGH can cause swelling of the organs and body tissues, resulting in a distinctive swollen stomach when not flexed. This is caused by the enlargement of the intestines which press against the abdominal wall.
Other side effects noted include fatigue, longer recovery times following exercise and reduced stamina.
As referred to above, HGH can cause the body to become less sensitive to insulin, leading to possible diabetes. For this reason, it’s not suitable for anyone who already has insulin problems or has been diagnosed with diabetes. Anyone with diabetic complications should also avoid this drug.
In addition, because HGH is an agent which acts directly on cell growth, it’s not recommended for anyone who has either malignant or benign tumors, or a history of cancer.
Is it best suited to cutting, bulking or both?
Although HGH will assist with lean muscle mass, it won’t provide the huge gains seen with typical bulking steroids when it’s run alone. However, when used alongside a bulking steroid, the results can be phenomenal.
This is because anabolic steroids and HGH complement each other, having a cumulative effect rather than simply additive. Adding HGH to a steroid stack can provide a huge boost to the bulking results.
However, HGH naturally leans towards being better for cutting because of its superior function in stripping out fat while protecting lean muscle. The hormone can be used either on its own or alongside a cutting steroid for optimal results.
Is it safe for women to use?
Anabolic steroids frequently cause virilization when taken by women, and even though which are considered to be “gentler” can produce adverse effects.
Although HGH has a similar effect to steroids in that it can help to create lean muscle, it does not have the same reaction within the body, making it possible for women to take.
As well as creating lean mass, HGH can reduce the amount of fat especially around the abdomen, knees and hips, a benefit which is particularly useful to female bodybuilders.
Type of PCT needed after the end of the cycle
HGH is often used as part of PCT so unless steroids are being taken alongside the HGH, no further PCT is required.
Although HGH has undoubted benefits to bodybuilders, the relative cost compared to anabolic steroids means that it is not as frequently used, particularly as the results aren’t quite as noticeable too.
As an average cost, to buy HGH costs approximately $3-4 per IU, adding up to around $15-20 per day to use it.
A good quality HGH is a 191 chain amino acid but there is a substandard 192 chain amino acid also available which won’t deliver the same results. Very cheap HGH is likely to be the inferior form which won’t deliver the desired outcome.
Sports that use it
HGH is a banned substance for the majority of sports but unlike other performance enhancing drugs, it can be very difficult to detect in the body. The substance has a very short half life and when urine is tested, HGH often appears to be no different than naturally occurring amino acids. For this reason, it may go undetected in sports doping tests.
HGH is used widely in sport even though its efficacy is not as well proven as anabolic steroids. Wrestling, swimming, mixed martial arts, soccer, track and field, baseball, strength sports, skiing, weight lifting and body building have all had athletes who have used HGH.
The first professional athlete to be found guilty of using HGH occurred in 2009, and was a British rugby player called Terry Newton. Athletes had been suspected of using HGH for many years but because of its rapid excretion from the body, WADA had difficulties designing tests which would capture it in time. It remains one of the more difficult drugs to trace, presenting a challenge for the doping authorities.
Legality of purchase and its usage in the US
In the US, HGH can only be supplied from a physician with a prescription for the purposes of treating a legitimate medical complaint.
Although the FDA has licensed the drug for use in humans, it may also be provided for the prescribed use. Any individual caught distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute faces a 5 year custodial sentence, plus a hefty fine.
HGH is not classified as a controlled substance at federal level but some states have chosen to treat it as an anabolic steroid.
In other countries such as the UK HGH is treated more leniently, where possession is not illegal providing it’s for personal use only.