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Natural Methods to Reduce Age-Related Growth Hormone Decrease

written by: cra8051 • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 6/27/2011

Growth hormone (GH) from the pituitary gland is responsible for growth in children and maintaining physiological energy and a healthy metabolism throughout life. It creates the best ratio of muscle to fat in the body. By middle age, production declines. Some think increasing GH will slow aging.

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    Studies show that declines in growth hormone begin in men and women after the age of 18 to 24. The decrease in men is by 50% every seven years. It drops twice as much in men as in women before menopause, leading to speculation that estrogen produces some protective effect. Growth hormone deficiency produces changes similar to regular aging such as “decrease in lean body mass, increase in total and abdominal fat, decrease in muscle strength, decrease in bone mineral density.” This has led to studies involving growth hormone replacement, which has been shown to reverse the above changes with the exception of muscle strength. However, there have been complications from this supplementation including carpal tunnel syndrome, breast growth in men, glucose intolerance, and arthralgias [1]. The treatments are also expensive

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    Causes of Deficiency

    Research indicates that one of the causes of these defiencies is an increase in a substance called somatostatin that occurs naturally as the body ages. Somatostatin comes from the hypothalamus and inhibits the pituitary from releasing more growth hormone. Once this became apparent, scientists started looking for ways to decrease the production of somatostatin. Some experiments have demonstrated that a chemical, cytidine-5’-diphosphage choline, abbreviated as CDP-choline, can decrease the production of somatostatin which causes growth hormone deficiency. An older study found an increase of four times the amount of growth hormone when CDP-choline was given to adults who were in good health [2].

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    Effects of Poor Sleep

    This hormone is released primarily during sleep. Poor sleep decreases the secretion. Multiple studies show that as many as one out of three adults has chronic sleep disturbances; exacerbation of a is common. An inexpensive amino acid—glycine—appears to enhance REM sleep [3]. Taking glycine just before bedtime may dramatically improve the quality of sleep and shorten the time it takes to get into deep sleep.

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    Weight and Diet

    Abdominal fat will impair growth hormone release. Losing weight seems to reverse this process. Avoiding high-glycemic foods will reduce the possibility of insulin spikes, which lessen growth hormone pulses, thus increasing the amount of hormone in the body. Having a bedtime snack of something that is high protein and low carbohydrate is another way to lessen the release of insulin during the night. The amino acids in the protein will improve growth hormone release. Regular exercise will enhance growth hormone secretion if it is done past the level of the lactic acid threshold. This can be accomplished through resistance exercises of the circuit training type [4].

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    [1]. Gentili, Angela, and Adler, Robert A., “Growth hormone replacement in older men,”, accessed April 20, 2009.

    [2]. Matsuoka, T, et al., “Effect of cytidine diphosphate choline on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man,” Endocrinology Japan. 1978 Feb:25(1):55-7.

    [3]. Chase, MH. “Confirmation of the consensus that glycinergic postsynaptic inhibition is responsible for the atonia of REM sleep,” Sleep 2008 Nov 1; 31(11):1487-91.

    [4]. Godfrey, RJ, et al., “The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes,” Sports Medicine, 2003;33(8):559-613.