Human growth hormone is a natural hormone secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate the body’s production of an insulin-type growth factor, which promotes
the body’s natural growth. As a natural consequence of aging, the production of
human growth hormone decreases. This natural decline fuels the theory that injections of HGH could reverse the effects of aging. Unlike injections of synthetic or natural human growth hormone, oral HGH releasers use a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbal extracts that supposedly stimulate the body’s natural production of growth hormone. These supplements are not illegal to sell as a dietary supplement, as they contain no actual growth hormone. There is no guaranteed vitamin/mineral/herbal blend/amino acid combination that will consistently and effectively work to stimulate production of HGH in everyone. The amino acids commonly used to stimulate HGH production are L-glutamine in combination with L-arginine. There is a lack of studies on the effects of these two amino acids, so their effectiveness is mostly anecdotal, and some studies have shown that in people over the age of 40, these amino acids would have little to no effect in increasing HGH production. Effects vary from individual to individual. Using these amino acids as HGH releasers has its downside. Continued use can diminish any effect. In young people, the use of L-glutamine and l-arginine can cause an excessive level of HGH.
The HGH releasers companies sell usually contain versions of these amino acids. Other HGH releaser products are scams designed to prey on the public desire for a fountain of youth. In 2003, manufacturer of HGH releasers Nature’s Youth was notified by the
FDA that their product claims were unsubstantiated and therefore illegal. The company then destroyed approximately 5,700 boxes of their product, which claimed to increase the body’s immune functions, improve physical performance, speed up recovery from physical training, and increase cardiac output. When asked to substantiate these claims, the company cited a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a study that has been denounced by the journal itself for being misused by companies to promote the sale of HGH. The human growth hormone releaser was promoted by Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Similarly named supplement company Nature’s Bounty was forced to pay $250,000 in redress as part of a settlement with the FTC. The FTC ordered the company to pay the respondents and forced it to provide substantiation for any future claims made in the advertisement of health supplements. The health store Great Earth was also prohibited from making claims for their brand of human growth hormone releasers. According to the complaint, Great Earth did not have any proof that their brand of HGH releasers could, as advertised, allow the user to: “Lose while you snooze. When you go to sleep, GHR Formula-P.M. goes to work burning away fat, building lean muscle tissue and firming." The FTC ordered that Great Earth must substantiate any claims that a product will aid the user in losing weight or fat, or that a product will strengthen any body organ or function.
In a consumer health brochure produced by the FTC, the FDA warns that there is no evidence to support any claims that products advertised to contain or boost the production of HGH have any anti-aging effects. In all the cases brought against companies that produce HGH releasers, not one of the companies has been able to substantiate its claims of increasing natural HGH production. The effects of these products are still up for debate within the scientific community.
Consumer Lab – Consumerlab.com
Food and Drug Administration – fda.gov
The Federal Trade Commission – ftc.gov