When my patient Norman* (*not his real name) first came to see me, he had all sorts of health issues.
Chronic fatigue… loss of muscle mass… poor memory… and joint pain, just to name a few.
He was only 61 years old, but he felt like a 90-year-old—and an unhealthy one at that.
In fact, many of my 90-year-old patients felt much better than he did!
Yet his medical doctors could find nothing wrong with him, except for arthritis.
Now, hearing his symptoms and age, you’d probably suspect a testosterone deficiency. It sure was at the top of my mind.
But it wasn’t Norman’s T levels that were causing him problems.
How did I know? Because when I test patients’ hormone levels, I normally order a group of them at a time. And it was good for Norman’s sake that I did, because it turned out that he had extremely low levels of yet another hormone: growth hormone!
Fortunately, a growth hormone deficiency is incredibly treatable—and adopting a new regimen of treatments can turn many of those heath concerns right around.
I’ll share with you the therapy I recommended for Norman—as well as how he responded—in just a minute.
But first, some background.
You’ve probably heard about human growth hormone (HGH) in the context of sports. Some athletes have used it as a performance-enhancing drug, as it improves muscle building and athletic performance.
And as a result, it’s gotten a bad rap—which is too bad, because HGH is critically important for both children and adults.
As the name implies, in children it’s involved in the normal growth of bones and muscles. A deficiency of HGH in childhood leads to stunted growth.
And it continues to play an important role throughout an adult’s life. For example, it works to support muscle and bone strength, metabolism, brain function, immunity, energy, mood, and overall cell rejuvenation.
When HGH is deficient or low in adults, it can lead to a variety of problems such as fatigue, osteoporosis, decreased sexual desire and function, loss of muscle mass, decreased exercise capacity, poor memory and mood, insomnia, aging or thinning skin, hot and cold sensitivity, low mood, weak immunity, and increased body fat (especially around the waist).
With consistently low levels of HGH, Norman turned out to be a classic case of adult growth hormone deficiency—even though didn’t meet conventional medicine’s ridiculously low standards for it.
And that meant he couldn’t get his insurance to cover daily human growth hormone injections, whose hefty price tag ($600 to $800 a month) was too much for him to afford on his own.
Since his endocrinologist was unable to help him, I told Norman about another way to help increase his HGH level: a once-daily injection of a medication known as Sermorelin acetate, which is available for about a fourth of the cost of growth hormone injections.
Instead of providing direct amounts of HGH, it works by stimulating the pituitary gland to release HGH.
You see, HGH is naturally produced in your body by the pituitary gland, located in the brain. Your liver then converts it into a protein known as “somatomedin,” or the equally tongue-twisting name “insulin-like growth factor one” (IGF-1).
The most common cause of HGH deficiency is permanent damage to the pituitary gland, like what happens when you’ve got a benign tumor, but that’s not always the case. Your pituitary gland may just need a little “boost.”
Injecting Sermorelin acetate nightly can continually stimulate the pituitary gland to release HGH. In many ways, this a better treatment for people with low HGH that do not have actual pituitary gland damage such as a tumor.
Norman has responded well to the treatment. He originally had an IGF-1 value of 49 ng/ml (a normal reference range is 87 to 225 ng/ml). His level is now well over 100, and the results are impressive.
He has substantially better energy, increased muscle mass, and his memory is doing better. Needless to say, he will continue on this treatment indefinitely.
I can’t wait to see how he feels when he actually is 90.
Getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, and lots of protein are important to maintaining good HGH levels. But sometimes, they’re just not enough.
If you’re over the age of 50, I recommend having your IGF-1 tested once yearly. The best testing time is in the morning.
If your levels turn out to be low, a knowledgeable doctor in holistic hormone balancing may also recommend nightly injections of Sermorelin acetate, as I did to Norman.
Fortunately, research shows that it’s uncommon to experience any side effects, and most patients can tolerate the treatment pretty well.1
I’ve found that supplementation of the bioidentical hormone DHEA can promote a better HGH level as well.
However, many hormones have similar signs and symptoms of being low. Low thyroid, low adrenal function, and low testosterone could all make you feel abnormally fatigued.
So, as I do with my patients, make sure your doc measures ALL of your hormone levels. After all, your hormones aren’t running through your body in isolation, so there’s no reason to completely isolate them in the lab work.