The past few years have brought the importance of the immune system front and center for many people. The onset of a global pandemic has made being healthy enough to fight off a viral infection even more vital. With rising cases and death tolls, there has been a lot of talk about which medications, supplements, or other factors could be used to improve the body’s ability to battle against infection.
One such supplement that has been explored for its effects on immunity is HGH, otherwise known as human growth hormone. But what is HGH, exactly? What can it do for the overall health of the body? And does HGH help your immune system?
What is HGH?
HGH, also known as somatotropin, is a type of peptide hormone that is naturally occurring in the body. It is secreted by the pituitary gland, a bean-shaped gland that sits at the base of the brain. The hormone itself consists of one chain of amino acids. The number of amino acids on the single chain is 191.
The production of the hormone is regulated by other hormones. One in particular, growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), is mainly responsible for its production. GHRH is produced in the hypothalamus, which is another gland located in the brain. Other hormones involved in controlling HGH production include somatostatin and ghrelin.
HGH is produced on an hourly basis, so the body always has some level of HGH secretion happening. The highest levels can be seen following exercise, sleep, or trauma, and nighttime is when the hormone peaks at its highest level.
What does HGH do in the body?
HGH is most commonly associated with growth during childhood, as well as the health of the metabolism. It helps bones and cartilage grow during the early years of a person’s life. The release of HGH activates certain proteins that are involved in cell signaling and drive bone-forming cells to replicate. This process of cell signaling also leads to an increase in cellular growth and gene replication.
HGH plays a role in the function of a person’s metabolism by upregulating the insulin-like growth factor 1 – a polypeptide hormone that is similar to insulin in structure. When that regulation occurs because of HGH, protein synthesis and amino acid uptake increase within the body. HGH can also reduce how much glucose is found in the muscles and tissues.
Recent research has also found that there is more to HGH than was once previously thought, and that it can actually play various roles, including helping to regulate the composition of the body and maintain healthy heart function.
What are the positive effects of HGH?
When looking at HGH from a supplemental standpoint, there are several positive effects it can have. Since HGH is highest in childhood and plays a role in growth and development, recent research has looked into whether or not the hormone can help with issues that may arise due to low levels of natural HGH, such as a decreased ability to exercise, muscle mass loss, and lower bone density. It was found that taking an oral supplement of HGH did help to restore higher levels in healthy adults.
People with certain health issues may also benefit from HGH because it causes levels to deplete or affects the body’s ability to hold onto muscle mass. Some conditions that could benefit include muscle loss caused by HIV/AIDS or short bowel syndrome. The most positive effects of HGH are associated with increasing a person’s endurance and exercise tolerability. Other claims have been made surrounding its use in anti-aging, but these have not been clinically proven as yet.
Is there a connection between HGH and the immune system?
HGH has been found to play a crucial role in the development of the immune system throughout childhood. Because of this, there have been many claims that it could also help immune function as an adult. There is some research to back up these claims, but a lot of it revolves around certain diseases that cause the immune system to become weak.
For example, one study looked at HGH as a way to control COVID-19. The researchers found that many patients who were more vulnerable to the worst effects of the viral infection were found to be deficient in HGH. While the study called for more research surrounding HGH and COVID-19, it is their thought that HGH could potentially be helpful in reducing the risk of severe disease in those who contract the infection due to a weakened immune system.
A clinical trial conducted on HGH and immunity also found that there was a connection between the immune system and the growth hormone. Specifically, the connection was because of the effect HGH has on the thymus, an irregular-shaped gland that produces immune cells known as T-lymphocytes. The trial found that HGH could actually stimulate the production of more disease-fighting cells, essentially boosting the immune system by promoting growth of the thymus.
While more research is needed to shed light on HGH and what it can do for both the overall health of the body and the function of the immune system, recent studies have found that it plays a much larger role than simply helping people grow during childhood.