Tip: Growth Hormone – A Doctor's View

Is it worth injecting? Can you boost GH naturally? Do any supplements work? Answers here.

Is GH Worth It?

Here's a question I received recently from a T Nation reader:

"For middle-aged men, is human growth hormone worth the price as an anti-aging or longevity treatment? Is there any way to naturally boost GH?"

It's a great question and currently I'm torn on its use. I've prescribed HGH very sparingly in my career, but have enough data to tell you I find its benefit inconsistent in the general population.

I don't use this medication off label, so I can't give you objective feedback on the use in bodybuilders. I have used it in a couple of elite CrossFit athletes for a time to help speed healing from injuries. Even in this regard, it's hard to pinpoint if HGH was the major driver of results since I was doing several other interventions as well.

At this time, it's not something I feel too excited about in terms of delivering all of those fountain of youth effects we hear so much about.

Human growth hormone levels can be raised naturally. Quantity and quality sleep, adequate protein, and high volume weight training (the kind that gets the muscles burning and generates that pump) are what I'm talking about. The strain-inducing heavy loads do it as well, but that type of training leans a bit more towards testosterone generation.

Start with 8 hours of sleep per night. Go to bed by 10:00 and wake early. Take in 30-40% of daily calories as protein, sticking to a smart training cycle with adequate rest and recovery. These are the best proven ways to raise HGH naturally.

I'm currently exploring the use of injectable peptides like Ipamorelin in my clinic. Several of my physician colleagues have been reporting good success. This peptide is a GH-releasing hormone.

You also may want to consider arginine and citrulline supplementation. There's some indication these MAY have the potential to boost GH. A good starting dose is 5-10g arginine or 3g citrulline each day.

One study in 2008 (PMID: 18090659) showed arginine supplementation can boost HGH by 100%. Exercise spiked it 300-500%. I bring this up because supplements always seem to be the way we'd like to do things, yet lifestyle factors often outperform them.

One odd finding was that the combination of exercise and arginine supplementation was not synergistic and seemed to blunt the exercise effect to some degree, only enhancing GH by 200%. Who knows what that means for us as individuals. Perhaps on days you're not in the gym, try the arginine, and days you're hitting it hard, don't bother.