What is HGH?
The human growth hormone is a vital hormone released from the anterior pituitary glands. It plays an important role in growth, body composition, metabolism, and cell repair in the body. The release of growth hormone depends on hormones like Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) and Growth Hormone Inhibiting Hormone (GHIG) or somatostatin, both of which have opposite effects on the release of GH.
Functions of HGH
The human growth hormone is extremely important for bone and cartilage growth in children and adults. It has many growth-stimulating functions in children, and it is also associated with the body’s metabolism regulation. The human growth hormone also promotes protein synthesis while decreasing the body fat content by stimulation breakdown of fat in adipocytes. Furthermore, HGH is also associated with regulating and balancing glucose levels in the blood.
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HGH may not have any height-related function in adults, that is after the closure of epiphyseal plates during adolescence, but it plays a vital role in maintaining and repairing the adult body structure.
Use of HGH
Synthetic growth hormone injections are usually given to patients suffering from growth hormone deficiency, both childhood-onset, and adult-onset. It is also given to patients with muscle wasting associated with HIV/AIDS.
HGH that is used for the treatment of these medical conditions is usually a biosynthetic form of HGH derived from mammalian or E.coli cells.
However, recently many companies have started to make supplements for HGH and they all claim that these supplements can result in increased bicep size, increased lean muscle mass, and overall performance enhancement. These supplements, unlike HGH injections, are actually composed of components that stimulate the production and release of GH from the anterior pituitary gland.
Although most supplements are made up of amino acids like l-Arginine and other growth factors, along with several herbal medicines, studies are being performed to find natural ways to increase GH levels.
One such amino acid discovered to have a positive effect on the release of GH is GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the hypothalamus.
What is GABA?
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a gamma neurotransmitter and the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for reducing neuronal excitability in the central nervous system. On binding with the GABA receptors in the brain, this neurotransmitter produces a calming effect leading to reduced stress and anxiety.
It is sold commonly as a dietary supplement.
Uses of GABA
Certain medical conditions like seizure disorders, ADHD, anxiety and panic disorders, and Parkinson’s have pathologically low levels of GABA. These conditions are treated with GABA supplements.
Furthermore, due to the natural calming effect of GABA, supplements are used by people who are under high stress and suffer from sleeping problems due to that. It helps them sleep better. In a study performed in 2018, it was actually sound to treat insomnia.
Studies performed to analyze the effect of GABA on anxiety, fatigue, and stress which can result in decreased problem-solving skills show GABA to be calming and relaxing, showing results within hours of consumption.
However, it is important to note that all these studies were performed on a small sample and further studies need to be performed for a conclusive statement to be published.
How does GABA affect HGH levels?
GABA is a relaxing neurotransmitter that helps individuals sleep better. And it is well known that GH is released during sleep, to facilitate growth and metabolic regulation. Hence, GABA increasing sleep indirectly affects GH levels.
Several studies have been performed to evaluate if HGH levels actually increase with GABA supplementation. One such study performed by Cavagnini et al. gave 19 subjects a 5mg GABA supplement. The other 18 subjects in the study were given a placebo. A blood sample was taken before and 3 hours after the supplement was taken. The venous sample 3 hours after showed a great increase in HGH levels when compared to the placebo group and HGH levels prior to testing.
Several other studies showed similar results. A 5mg GABA supplement significantly increases GH levels. This has led many athletes to take GABA supplements to increase GH, which in turn can increase their muscular gains.
A study performed by researchers at the University of Gainesville, Florida aimed to evaluate the effect of GABA supplements on bodybuilders going through resistance training. Resistance training is a method of training undertaken by athletes to increase endurance and muscle mass. Subjects of this study were divided into intervention and placebo groups. Both groups were given a supplement, GABA, and placebo respectively, at rest and just before exercising.
The results of this study showed that GABA supplements that were taken just before resistance training resulted in significantly higher levels of GH. This increase can be associated with long-term muscle definition and increased muscle mass.
More studies with greater sample sizes and more parameters need to understand the mechanism of action of GABA on HGH more clearly. But as of now, with all the studies already published, GABA supplements taken just before working out or just once daily can significantly increase HGH levels.
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Cavagnini, F et al. “Effect of acute and repeated administration of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man.” Acta endocrinologica vol. 93,2 (1980): 149-54. doi:10.1530/acta.0.0930149
Powers, Michael. “GABA supplementation and growth hormone response.” Medicine and sport science vol. 59 (2012): 36-46. doi:10.1159/000341944