GH can be used to treat conditions which produce short stature but are not related to deficiencies in GH, though results are not as dramatic when compared to short stature solely due to deficiency of GH. Examples of other causes of shortness often treated with GH are Turner syndrome, chronic renal failure, Prader-Willi syndrome, intrauterine growth retardation, and severe idiopathic short stature. Higher ("pharmacologic") doses are required to produce significant acceleration of growth in these conditions, producing blood levels well above physiologic. Despite the higher doses, side effects during treatment are rare, and vary little according to the condition being treated.

GH treatment improves muscle strength and slightly reduces body fat in Prader-Willi syndrome, which are significant concerns beyond the need to increase height. GH is also useful in maintaining muscle mass in wasting due to AIDS. GH can also be used in patients with short bowel syndrome to lessen the requirement for intravenous total parenteral nutrition.

Uses that are controversial include

* GH treatment for remission of Multiple sclerosis

* GH treatment to reverse effects of aging in older adults (see below)

* GH treatment to enhance weight loss in obesity

* GH treatment for fibromyalgia

* GH treatment for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

* GH treatment for idiopathic short stature

* GH treatment for bodybuilding or athletic enhancement

* The use of bovine somatotropin to increase milk production in cattle

Anti-aging agent:

Claims for GH as an anti-aging treatment date back to 1990 when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study where GH was used to treat 12 men over 60. At the conclusion of the study all the men showed statistically significant increases in lean body mass and bone mineral, while the control group did not. The authors of the study noted that these were the kind of changes that would occur naturally over a 10 to 20 year aging period. Despite the fact the authors at no time claimed that GH had reversed the aging process itself, their results were mis-interpreted as indicating GH was an effective anti-aging agent.

A Stanford University School of Medicine survey of clinical studies on the subject published in early 2007 showed that the application of GH on healthy elderly patients increased muscle by about 2 kg and decreased body fat by the same amount. However, these were the only positive effects from taking GH. No other critical factors were affected, such as bone density, cholesterol levels, lipid measurements, maximal oxygen consumption, or any other factor that would indicate increased fitness. Researchers also didn't discover any gain in muscle strength, which led them to believe that GH merely let the body store more water in the muscles rather than increase muscle growth. This would explain the increase in lean body mass. Regular application of GH did show several negative side effects such as joint swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and an increased risk of diabetes.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). The Official Guide to Human Growth Hormone is Robert Bohen.

When I founded the oral growth hormone industry in the nineties along with Dr. Robert Lawrence and Dr. Roy Dittman, we had pioneered a way to get this large and unique life sustaining human growth hormone molecule to work without injecting it. We weren't sure it could be done at first, but because of the large and unique cross-linking of the HGH molecule. However, we pulled it off and the rest is truly history.

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