Today we’ll consider some aspects of GHRPs (Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides). These are synthetic peptides which, obviously, stimulate the release of Growth Hormone (GH) into the body. We’ll look at a couple of examples including Ibutamoren (aka Nutrobal), more popularly known as MK-677, and another type named Sermorelin.
Symptoms of GH Deficiency
Typically, adult males with low GH can suffer from low libido, muscle wasting, mental fog, dry skin, baldness, a sense of isolation, and anxiety. In women this often manifests as losing muscle mass, decreased libido, thinning skin that sags, decreased energy levels, more fat accumulation around the midsection, poor sleep, and decreased bone mass resulting in osteoporosis in 20% of older women.
Why Does GH Decrease?
Human GH decreases naturally as we age because we’ve extended human lifespan so much. Humans diverged from our simian cousins long ago, but lacking our skill and intelligence, gorillas live 35-50 years, just like humans used to do.
Going from an average of 42 years to now something approaching 100 years has us living long past the body’s original adaptive capabilities. Things wear out and become less efficient. Medicines, procedures, and treatments help us deal with our failing systems, and strides are being made to stop the wear and tear to maintain good health for much longer.
While most people look for longer lifespans, what researchers are really developing is extended healthspans. Currently our extended lifespans see many living their last 30 or 40 years getting steadily worse until life is no pleasure at all.
How would you feel if you could have your 30 year old body until you were 90 years old and only then begin to experience significant failures? Would having a long, healthy, active, and fascinating life make up for a short, intense period of failing health?
Benefits of Increased GH
In children and young adults the lack of Growth Hormone can lead to individuals having very slow or inadequate growth. Adding synthetic GH corrects this deficiency and allows them to grow to their full natural height. It is important for a physician to assess the individual to see if there truly is a lack of GH or the presence of a disease process like Turner Syndrome, which requires GH therapy.
The Mayo Clinic asserts that in adults lacking sufficient Human Growth Hormone (HGH, an alternate reference to GH), can be aided with HGH to increase bone density, muscle mass, an ability to exercise for longer periods, and decrease body fat. It has also been remarked that it improves sleep, libido, erectile dysfunction, the immune system, and many other issues.
The above could be true since GH is a “master hormone” that affects so many sub-systems within the body. On the other hand, it can cause some issues, too.
For example, you have a gland called the thymus, located between the lungs. Its purpose is to train white blood cells to become killer T-cells that help protect the body from invaders. GH (along with traumas, chemotherapy, cardiac surgery, or discontinuation of orally administered steroids) can make this grow bigger, so the claim of an improved immune system arises.
But, is bigger actually better? Such growth can result in tumors, or enhance existing tumors (thymomas). This follows from GH’s anti-apoptosis activity (resisting cell-death) so the cancer has a chance to grow when it might otherwise be destroyed by the immune system.
GH is not useful for weight control, since it has only a minor effect with fat loss. There is little clinical or empirical evidence suggesting increased stamina—it’s mostly anecdotal—implying that it may just be the placebo effect. Use of GH can help with dry skin, but often at the cost of triggering acne outbreaks.
Indeed, GH can cause increased insulin resistance, which can result in Type 2 diabetes. It can cause joint and muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, water retention (edema), additional cancers, and for men, they can grow breast tissue (gynecomastia), among other things.
Worse yet is Acromegaly when there is too much growth hormone in an adult body. The long-developed bones, such as arms, legs, spine and ribs do not grow. It does, however, result in excessive bone growth of the hands, feet, and face, creating oversized hands, feet, and a lantern-jaw. It is not reversible, of course.
It’s clear to most people that taking GH is not a good idea unless there is an actual need. If dwarfism can be avoided that will be a huge social benefit for a child and the eventual adult.
There is too great a risk to create comorbidities in adults seeking the minor benefits from GH supplements. Some folks, such as body builders, seeking every minor advantage have gained benefits and experienced consequences from GH use. The general consensus is that it is too dangerous for the small gains.
Alternatives to GH
Less dangerous replacements have been sought both by body builders and by life extension seekers. Specifically, we’ll address two of them: MK‑677 and Sermorelin.
Also called Ibutamoren, MK-677 is classified as a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator, or SARM, as well as being a Selective Ghrelin Receptor Agonist, or a type of secretagogue. An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor site in the same way that the true chemical for that receptor would, causing it to activate. A secretagogue promotes the secretion of chemical molecules in the body such as hormones (e.g. Ghrelin), neurotransmitters, etc.
Ghrelin itself is a hormone made in the stomach when it is empty. It signals to the body that it is time to eat. It is more complex that just that, though. It also affects thermoregulation of the body, reducing heat production to save energy. Additionally, it protects the heart and resists atrophy of the muscles while enhancing bone production and aiding overall metabolism.
For many, one of its most desirable functions is to cause the up-regulation of GH production, as well as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1).
It is not a substance to take if you are trying to lose weight since it makes you feel constantly hungry. It causes people to neglect their willpower and eat much more than they ordinarily would, causing significant weight gain.
Body builders on a bulk-cycle may appreciate this, but those on a cut-cycle would find this to be counterproductive. In either case, by stimulating GH production, water retention will occur giving a “wet” appearance, compared to a “dry” appearance which emphasizes the musculature details.
Sermorelin is a synthetic peptide used primarily for diagnostic purposes to determine how well the pituitary gland is functioning and whether there is a deficiency that needs treatment. If growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is revealed by subsequent blood tests, treatment is indicated.
Sermorelin acts as a growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) analog in growth hormone replacement therapy. It encourages the release of GH from the pituitary gland by binding to specific receptors. Sermorelin mimics the action of the natural GHRH produced in the hypothalamus, resulting in an increase in GH secretion. This compensates for under-production by the body.
Some people have begun using Sermorelin as an anti-aging treatment, claiming it generally improves health, sleep quality, cognitive function, and helps them lose weight. This latter factor, weight loss, encourages some people to use it in combination with MK-677 to combat the weight gain inherent in that strategy.
For precisely the same reasons as for GH itself, or for MK-677, Sermorelin is not something that most people would need to take. The marketing of these substances has been quite aggressive for a long time now, and people are becoming inured to the dangers.
In all cases of using these substances, it is essential to consult with a medical professional (not “that-guy-down-at-the-gym” who just bought a Tesla) to keep close track of what is happening to your body as a result of usage. There are serious health risks and side effects possible with hormonal manipulation. This entire realm is still a subject of open debate, and its long-term safety and efficacy are not fully established. Take care of yourself because this is your only body!