Growth Hormone (GH) secretion and the level of a major product of growth hormone in our blood, IGF-1, decline 14% per
decade of life. By the age of 40 or 50, many people have low IGF-1 levels (<120mcg/dL)--equal to people who have damaged
pituitary glands and no GH production at all. Growth hormone stimulates cell division, cell growth, and protein production
throughout the body, helping to maintain all tissues. Many studies have shown sufficient growth hormone is essential to the
maintenance of our nervous system, immune system, bones, metabolism, and muscles. Higher, rather than lower IGF-1 levels
within the reference ranges reduce abdominal fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure. GH replacement in when needed improves
mood, energy, sleep quality, and sociability.
Growth hormone cannot be directly measured in the blood because it's produced only during the night while we are in deep
sleep. However, the average amount of growth hormone secretion is reflected in the IGF-1 level in the blood. It is a reliable test:
only liver disease or a rare genetic defect can cause a low IGF-1 level in the face of adequate growth hormone secretion. Some
medical authorities are now trying to restrict adult GH replacement to those extreme cases where persons have obvious
physical damage to their pituitary gland and cannot make any GH even when forced to do so with superphysiological stimuli
like insulin or arginine stimulation tests. This policy is unscientific, as a "normal" response to such tests does not guarantee that
enough GH is actually being secreted on a daily basis. The best indicator of actual GH secretion under normal circumstances in
any person is the IGF-1 level.
Growth hormone restoration, like testosterone restoration, is controversial today partly because athletes are using and abusing
it for performance gains; and because most of the early studies of GH replacement in older adults used grossly excessive
doses that produced elevated blood sugar, fluid retention, and aching joints. By definition, until proven otherwise,
restoring any hormone to young-adult levels is beneficial. Hormones don't have "side effects", they only have effects!
If a person has symptoms of GH deficiency and low IGF-1 levels, Dr. Lindner first tries to improve GH secretion and IGF-1 levels
by restoring other hormones (thyroid, testosterone, DHEA, estradiol). Often this works quite well. He will prescribe GH to those
with persistent signs and symptoms of GH deficiency and low IGF-1 levels. He uses low, physiologic doses that have been
shown to produce benefits without causing signs or symptoms of excess. Unfortunately, GH is not covered by insurance, is
expensive (a low-moderate dose costs $250/mo), and requires nightly self-injections.
For Health and Quality of Life