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Human growth hormone

Related Terms

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Background

  • Human growth hormone (HGH or GH), also known as somatotropin, is a protein hormone naturally synthesized and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, which stimulates growth and cell reproduction. During adolescence production of HGH is generally high. HGH levels peak somewhere between the ages of 21 and 30 and then decline when a person is in his or her 40s.
  • The identification, purification, and later synthesis of growth hormone are associated with Choh Hao Li, a Chinese biologist and biochemist living from 1913-1987.
  • By the middle of the 20th Century, endocrinologists gained a better understanding of the clinical features that define growth hormone deficiency. GH is a protein hormone, like insulin, which had been purified from pig and cow pancreases for treatment of type 1 diabetes since the 1920s. However, similar attempts to use pig and cow sources of GH did not work as well in humans due to greater species-to-species variation of molecular structure.
  • From 1960 to 1985, growth hormone was extracted from human pituitary glands and given to children who did not naturally produce enough of the hormone. In 1985 the use of growth hormone from human cadavers was associated with the development of Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease (a rare, usually fatal disease of the brain, characterized by progressive dementia and gradual loss of muscle control, that occurs most often in middle age and is caused by a slow virus), and was withdrawn from use.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.