Human growth hormone (HGH), also known as somatotropin, is an important hormone secreted in pulsatile fashion by the pituitary gland after adequate melatonin production has been sensed. Although not all the effects are understood, we know HGH has many critical functions. Some of these include regulating metabolism, body composition (percent muscle Molecular structure of Human Growth Hormone versus fat), glucose metabolism/production, promoting cell growth and division, promoting protein synthesis, and dealing with stress. It is critical to cellular repair processes including, not surprisingly, wound healing.
HGH has been shown to improve wound and bone healing when applied topically and when given systemically. Mechanisms by which it improves wound healing include stimulating granulation tissue formation, collagen deposition, and facilitating epithelialization (laying down of new skin). The increased anabolic (building/repairing) activity requires adequate amounts of protein intake.
Because HGH has been abused to enhance athletic performance, it has been very tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. The only accepted use is to treat children with short stature. Although there is a recognized “adult onset growth hormone deficiency syndrome,” the exact diagnosis requires not only symptom questionnaires but provocative testing that can be potentially dangerous to the patient. For these reasons, and the fact that it is quite expensive, HGH is rarely prescribed in the United States.
HGH release is triggered from the pituitary gland by growth hormonereleasing hormone (GHRH), which is secreted from the hypothalamus after adequate melatonin production has been sensed. There are some GHRH-like medications available, the most common of which is sermorelin. These medications are more available, less costly, and can be administered without the potential legal/compliance issues of HGH. Sermorelin has been anecdotally reported to improve wound healing, but there are few studies on it at this time. Although it is not strictly a “bioidentical” hormone, it has the same structure of the active part of the GHRH protein. We consider it a “last-line” agent for wound healing. Do everything else described in this book first, and you likely will not need it.
There are many things one can do to naturally increase HGH levels. Most importantly, optimize ocular melatonin synthesis during daylight hours (get the sun on your retinas—though, if you have had cataract surgery or have artificial lenses, this can be problematic), and make sure to protect your eyes and skin from light (especially blue light) after sundown to maximize melatonin secretion. Replacing/augmenting testosterone in both genders can also increase HGH secretion.
Other measures that help:
- Lose excess body fat.
- Fast intermittently.
- Reduce sugar intake.
- Do not eat within four hours of bedtime.
- Do high-intensity interval training. (We realize this may not be something you can do easily…yet.)
- Consider supplementation with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), arginine, and/or beta-alanine.
But, by far, the most important way to maximize HGH production is to optimize your sleep time.