Most people want to live as long as possible but no one wants to age! Aging comes with multiple challenges, not least the psychological effects of muscle loss, forgetfulness, grey hair wrinkling, and sagging skin. The latter two changes of the skin may alter an individual’s appearance quite significantly.
You may have wondered if at all we are doomed to the effects of aging. Is there a solution from the medical and scientific community?
Given the hype and frenzy that has hit the anti-aging community in relation to the use of human growth hormone (HGH), let us look at whether HGH is the solution. Specifically, can HGH help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin as we age? Is it really worth it?
What Is HGH?
HGH- also called somatotropin is a peptide hormone whose basic function, as the name implies, is growth. Growth, development, and maintenance of body tissues are dependent one way or another on this hormone. In this regard, the skin is no exception.
Our bodies produce HGH naturally in the pituitary gland. The pituitary produces HGH in a pulsatile fashion with a diurnal variation- this simply means that the levels of HGH in the blood are not always the same. They increase with intense exercise and sleep and hit a low sometime during the day.
Once produced HGH goes to the liver where it’s converted into another substance called Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Actually, IGF-1 is the main mediator of HGH effects.
Synthetic HGH, also referred to as recombinant HGH, was developed in the 1980s for therapeutic use. Synthetic HGH and is currently FDA approved in the US for the treatment of specific conditions none of which include use as an anti-aging agent.
What happens to HGH levels as you age?
Age-related decline in HGH levels has been termed ‘somatopause’. Levels of HGH begin to decline soon after we reach adult body size and reproductive maturity. As a result blood levels of elderly individuals are much lower compared to younger people. The consequences of this decline manifest as loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, reduced libido, and low energy levels, dry skin, wrinkles, and thinning hair.
This decline in HGH may seem undesirable but there is ample evidence showing that it protects from cancer and other age-associated diseases. Intuitively this makes sense since HGH induces growth and cancer likes to grow! It may also surprise you that there are indications that lower levels of HGH are associated with longevity.
What are the effects of HGH on the skin?
The skin is the largest organ of your body. It is comprised of the epidermis, the topmost layer, and the dermis, the deepest layer. The skin is rich in structural proteins called collagen and elastin. Elastin gives the skin elasticity, allowing it to bounce back when pinched, whereas collagen holds the skin together, such that it does not easily break apart.
The use of synthetic HGH therapy has been shown in studies to speed up healing time at skin graft removal sites in burn victims. Moreover, animal studies have also shown the benefit of using systemic GH to accelerate wound healing.
Although the above-mentioned studies offer proof of principle, you should note however that none of the available studies were done on healthy elderly men or women interested in the aesthetic effects that HGH has on the skin. Studies on healthy elderly subjects report improvement in body composition. This improvement is however coupled with undesirable effects. Furthermore, it is well known that in conditions of excess HGH production, the skin actually becomes too thick and rough. This is an effect not conducive to the desired results of youthful skin.
What are the risks and side effects of using synthetic HGH?
Administration of synthetic HGH to healthy elderly individuals may produce a number of side effects including joint pain, edema, tingling of the skin, high cholesterol levels, growth of cancerous tumors, and diabetes.
Is it worth supplementing with synthetic HGH to improve skin health?
Like any therapy, HGH replacement has both benefits and risks. There’s no compelling evidence that synthetic HGH can help healthy adults become youthful. Unless one has low levels due to deficiency, it is not worth the risk. Moreover, you would have to part with an average of up to $15000 a year!
Ways to boost natural HGH production
There are several ways to boost your natural HGH levels including;
- High-intensity exercise
- Goodnight sleep
- Vitamin C
- Natural HGH releasers
Alternatives to HGH for Skincare
There is no substitute for healthy lifestyle choices. The use of substances like HGH may be shrouded in controversy, but there is nothing controversial about a sensible diet and exercise program that raises HGH levels naturally. Additionally, you can do the following to keep your skin healthy and youthful as you age:
- Sun protection
- Don’t smoke/quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Treat your skin gently
- Manage stress
The Take-Home On HGH And Its Effects On The Skin
All in all, evidence for the use of HGH for anti-aging purposes is contradictory and controversial. From the limited data available, you would best be served to avoid the use of synthetic HGH because of the possible side effects although taking a natural HGH releaser could be a safer option. For now, stick to the basics; exercise, taking supplements that naturally induce the production of HGH, and proper nutrition which has an established link with longevity, youthfulness, and vitality.