If you pay much attention to sports commentators, you’ve probably heard of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). According to many of them, this is just another on a long line of Performance Enhancing Drugs, alongside the various forms of steroids and other bulk-building substances now being banned from professional sports.
In fact, the most recent news sightings about HGH are about National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, predicting that the players and team owners in the NFL will soon agree to regular random (blood and urine) tests designed to detect the presence of this evil substance. In an ESPN interview earlier this week , he expressed his regret that this evil PED has not already been declared “illegal” by the NFL Players’ Association; however, he said he expected to see the new policy accepted and in place in the very near future.
However, if you speak to a physician or even someone who knows a little about biology, you’ll likely get a very different story. Moreover, if that doctor is also an endocrinologist, you may even find that recent studies of HGH have shown it to be effective not only in enhancing physical growth, and healing injuries more quickly than normal, but in even more important areas of medicine and wellness.
What is HGH?
In reality, HGH is not some laboratory-concocted Pharma-created designer-drug; it’s a substance that occurs naturally in the human body. In fact, without it, we would probably never move physically beyond our immature childhood forms. Human growth hormone is essential for the expansion and generation of body-parts, without which we cannot grow into adult-sized bodies.
Up until the age of about 30, we all have high levels of human growth hormone running through our bodies. Without it, we’d never grow from our child-bodies into adult forms. However, since HGH is no longer required for body-growth by the time we’ve reached that age, its levels by then are reduced, by nearly 80 percent.
At the same time, however, HGH is also responsible for the repair and regeneration of human tissue throughout our lives. As we continue to age, we lose about another 12 to 15 percent of that remaining amount each decade, so we no longer have all the internal weapons to bring to bear for rapid healing, as we did when we were younger. As HGH decreases, we start to experience weight gain, loss of muscle mass, decreased energy levels, and other slight diseases related with aging. In addition, the process of body-damage without normal repair (what we call “natural aging”) continues to accelerate. (This is also why it’s become an issue for aging athletes, seeking to prolong their careers or just recover quickly from injuries sustained, as discussed below.)
Some physicians have even prescribed HGH injections for patients who suffer from chronic injuries and diseases that tend to waste away body-tissues. In some well-documented (though admittedly anecdotal) cases, the effects of Lyme Disease have been curtailed (and sometimes even reversed) through these regular shots. However, since the cost of such treatments can be as much as $1000 per injection, this use of HGH is still very limited at this point.
HGH and the sports world
The controversy around the use of HGH supplements by professional athletes stems from the value of this substance (which once again occurs naturally within the body during our youthful years) in promoting rapid recovery from bodily injuries, both major and minor. As more than a few doctors have already discovered, the addition of HGH to the regimen of an athlete recovering from injuries can actually accelerate the healing process considerably.
During a period a few years back when Pettitte was recovering from a malingering arm injury, his doctor prescribed and administered at least one HGH treatment. Unfortunately, Andy later acknowledged this to his team and the honchos at Major League Baseball (considering full-disclosure as the better part of valor, in light of the controversy over “performance enhancement drugs”); instead of being commended for his honesty, he was upbraided and condemned as a PED felon, and has been linked with “steroid use” every since, thanks to ignorant and uncaring sports media and others. (Somehow this attempt (even on the advice of a licensed physician) to get back to better health sooner, using something his younger body once naturally produced, is now considered to be in the same class as taking steroids to artificially enhance his normal physique.)
One question begs to be asked: As noted above, NFL Commissioner Goodell is hoping the NFLPA and owners add HGH testing to their approved league regulations. As yet, however, there is no explanation, from Goodell or anyone else, as to how these tests will distinguish among:
(a) the natural levels of HGH, as produced in the bodies of younger players (up to the age of about 30);
(b) synthetic or natural supplements, now available both over the counter and by prescription, designed to promote natural HGH production; and
(c) actual “live” HGH injections, administered into the bloodstream, whether under a doctor’s care or not).
We might recall, meanwhile, that the proposed banning from baseball of Manny Ramirez earlier this year (to which he responded by retiring from the game) was due to his failed drug-test, and the discovery of … not actual steroids in his bloodstream, but other substances (normally used by pregnant women to divert possible miscarriage) that were found there, which have among their side-effects the “masking” of steroid-use. Could HGH discovered in the bloodstream of aging (over-30) athletes soon receive similar circumstantial treatment?
HGH as life-extender?
Of course, as private business entities, both the MLB and the NFL (along with the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, U.S. Tennis and Golf associations, et alia) have the right to decide what is or is not permitted among their professional athletes. Whatever they and their respective players’ associations arrive at, in terms of labor-contract negotiations, is their decision and nobody else’s. However, the demonization of human growth hormone must seem a bit extreme, especially to those working in the naturopathy and wellness realms.
For example, natural-healing and life-extension experts have been making inroads toward either synthesizing HGH, or assisting the body in other ways, to restore production of this valuable substance to its earlier levels. While the research continues, many sites currentlypromote something called “HGH Activator,” which simply combines various existing amino acids and other healthful ingredients into a capsule or powder, which is reported to enhance a natural increase of HGH production within the body.
Among the contents of this particular remedy are a laundry-list of health supplements, most of them already available individually at your local health store: L-Glutamine, L-Arginine, L-Lysine, L-Glysine and Colostrum, among other things. Each of these substances occurs naturally in some form or percentage within the human body. The supplement is designed to trigger HGH production, not only for the healing of injuries, but for actually extending life, by slowing down (or even reversing?) the “aging process” that accompanies the ‘natural” breakdown of the body as it wears out over time.
If any of these breakthroughs proves successful, the odds are that rather than trying to ban HGH in professional sports, they’ll be trying to produce it as an essential part of the average diet.