The use of human growth hormone in body building was one of the first uses of the hormone for applications other than treatment of hormone deficiency. The inspiration for this treatment probably came from early work suggesting that injections of the hormone in healthy people provoked an increase in lean muscle, increased strength and a youthful, energetic outlook. Experience among bodybuilders and athletes has suggested that regular use of the hormone does result in these physical changes.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is responsible for normal growth in children and teenagers, but it also regulates metabolic processes such as fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism. It's no accident that, as HGH levels start to decrease when we are fully grown, we tend to experience an increase in fat storage accompanied by a loss of muscle and strength. The use of growth hormone in bodybuilding is intended to arrest or reverse these changes, giving the athlete an edge in the gym and in competition. Many bodybuilders and other athletes now receive human growth hormone injections.
But there are problems with using human growth hormone in bodybuilding that athletes should be aware of. First, the hormone is banned by NCAA and WADA and other sports organizations. An athlete tested for banned substances during competition would be charged with a doping violation if synthetic HGH was found in the blood (all HGH available for therapeutic use is now synthetic). Substances taken to stimulate the release of banned hormones are also banned, so if drug testing is a factor, human growth hormone injections, and the use of hormone releasers, are not good choices.
Efficacy is another factor: does using human growth hormone in bodybuilding really work? Although studies have shown an increase in lean muscle and a decrease in body fat, it's not clear that these physical changes give an athlete any real edge in bodybuilding or competition. That increased muscle size may not equate to increased strength over and above that achieved with other training techniques. And human growth hormone injections bring with them a host of possible side effects that can heavily outweigh any potential benefit of the therapy.
Human growth hormone injections raise the HGH level in the blood above normal level for an extended period of time. Though the idea is to bring levels back up to where they were in youth, it may be a bad idea because the hormone does have effects on the body beyond increasing muscle and preventing fat storage. Long term users of human growth hormone in body building run the risk of unpleasant side effects such as high levels of fat in the blood, thyroid problems, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and other things. Though minor damage can be reversed by discontinuing the hormone treatment, some physical changes are permanent.
Finally, human growth hormone injections are prohibitively expensive and counterfeit products are common. The hormone has to be injected and monitored by a professional with medical expertise, often on a daily schedule, but at least several times per week. The cost will run to thousands of dollars a month for comprehensive treatment. It's ironic that it's thought that few athletes using human growth hormone in bodybuilding, and other sports training, experience the serious side effects mentioned above because of the predominance of counterfeit HGH on the market today.
R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. You can learn more about human growth hormone in bodybuilding on the AntiAging Information site.