It is recommended that you use nutritional supplements found in nature rather than synthetic drugs to stimulate growth hormone release. But there are a number of prescription drugs that can enhance the growth hormone response. These are drugs that thousands of people have used for many years for anti-aging purposes without any serious side effects.
While these are all FDA-approved drugs whose safety and reliability has been confirmed in hundreds of thousands of patients, none of them has been approved for the purpose of raising GH levels.
And because prescription drugs are usually synthetic and not found in nature like the nutrients listed above, they tend to have more side effects and more serious ones. But let’s discuss them here for several reasons.
First, some of them are quite effective in raising GH levels. Second, you may have read about their use elsewhere. Last, but not least, we believe that you should know what all your options are and make up your own mind based on the best available information. The goal is to stimulate replacement levels, not superphysiologic levels, of growth hormone.
Remember, none of this should be tried without close monitoring by a physician specializing in anti-aging medicine. It is imperative that you read carefully the dosage levels, side effects, cautions, and risks associated with their use.
FOUR GH-RELEASING ANTI-AGING DRUGS
The following four drugs have long been used worldwide for life extension purposes. Recent studies have shown that all four significantly raise growth hormone levels in people, and in some cases restore the release of GH in elderly people back to youthful values. At the low dosages in which they are used for GH stimulation and anti-aging, no serious side effects are associated with their use. And while there are risks involved in chronic use even chronic use of low-dose aspirin can be injurious to health – the benefits in terms of GH release appear to outweigh the risks.
L-dopa or Levadopa (Sinemet: The Longevity Awakener)
This is actually an amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body. It is available only by prescription for use in Parkinson’s disease. The metabolic precursor of dopamine, is converted in the brain to dopamine
Effects on GH
L-dopa is one of the most effective GH-stimulators in both animals and humans. A 1976 National Institute on Aging study by Joseph Meites, one of the most distinguished researchers in hormones and aging, found that .5 gram of the drug per day increased the GH output of men over sixty who did not have Parkinson’s to levels approaching that of young adults! And there were no adverse effects at this dosage.
How it works
L-dopa is a precursor of dopamine, one of the important neurotransmitters in regulation of growth hormone. Drugs that raise the levels of dopamine in the brain are among the most powerful stimulants of GH release. It is also a building block for the transmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine, which have all been shown to increase GH secretion.
L-dopa attained cinematic fame in Awakenings as the drug that jolted patients out of their fifty-year trance caused by a form of sleeping sickness. It may also serve to awaken although not as dramatically older people from the lethargy of aging. A number of studies in animals reveal that L-dopa has remarkable anti-aging and life-extending effects. In a classic longevity study, Dr. George Cotzias, the developer of L-dopa for Parkinson’s disease, fed three groups of mice varying amounts of L-dopa one milligram, 20 milligrams, and 40 milligrams, respectively, per gram of diet. A control group had no L-dopa in their diet. The group on the highest dosage 40 milligrams lived the longest, with almost twice the number of animals in this group still alive at 18 months compared with the untreated controls (73 percent versus 39 percent).
L-dopa helps restore the sensitivity of hypothalamus to feedback from the hormonal signals from the rest of the body, which is impaired with age. This in turn improves the homeostasis of the body. Since lack of responsiveness to hormonal signals could be involved in the decreased secretion of GH with age, the use of L-dopa may reverse this communication breakdown.
Some people who have used L-dopa as a GH-releaser and for life extension purposes claim that it is a great sexual stimulant, another well-known effect of GH.
In low doses, far under those used for Parkinson’s patients, L-dopa is effective in raising GH levels without side effects. Since it works through a different mechanism from arginine and ornithine, it may be a useful addition to amino acid stacks.
125 to 500 milligrams at bedtime as directed by a physician; best taken as carbidopa (sinemet).
This is a serious prescription drug that must be used with medical supervision. Side effects mostly seen at doses higher than 500 milligrams include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, involuntary body movements, orthostatic hypotension, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, confusion, psychosis, depression, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Greater adverse effects with pure forms (not carbidopa) or at high doses.
Hydergine is an ergot derivative closely related to bromocriptine, hydergine is prescribed for age-related decline in mental capacity, Alzheimer’s, and other dementing conditions.
Effects on GH
Hydergine is one of the few GH-releasers that has actually been shown in clinical testing to be active in elderly people.
How it works
It is believed to work through its stimulation of dopamine, but it also affects noradrenalin, another neurotransmitter that stimulates GH. The drug is actually a mixture of ergot derivatives, one of which, dihydroergocornine, is one of the strongest GH-releasers of the various ergots.
Hydergine gained wide popularity after Pearson and Shaw touted it in their book as a “smart” drug. According to them, it helps prevent or correct aging in the brain by increasing protein synthesis in the brain, which is required for memory; stabilizing brain EEG energies under conditions of low oxygen supply; slowing the rate at which the age pigment lipofuscin accumulates in the brain; improving memory and learning; and stimulating the growth of neurites (nerve-cell connections required for forming new memories, which are lost with age).
People who have used it for anti-aging purposes report that it increased feelings of well-being, energy levels, and fat loss. Considering that almost all these changes are similar to the ones seen with GH replacement, it is likely that many of the effects attributed to hydergine are due, at least in part, to the restoration of youthful growth hormone levels in later life.
This is a “best bet” for prescription drugs used to stimulate growth hormone. It is extremely safe and has been used on a daily basis for decades by older people in Europe to preserve brain function and increase energy levels. Hydergine, like L-dopa, seems to have significant effects for several months, although there are no long-term studies on people to see if the effect is sustained for a longer period of time.
One milligram 3 times a day for memory enhancement. Six milligrams found effective for GH release. Can increase up to 12 milligrams as directed by a physician.
Rare, but may include nausea, drowsiness, slow heart rate, rash. Can potentiate the effect of caffeine, causing headache and insomnia. Build up dosage level slowly.
Clonidine (Catapres) is a blood pressure-lowering drug that is also used for many diverse conditions, including Tourette’s syndrome, migraines, ulcerative colitis, painful or difficult menstruation, and hot flashes from menopause, and to promote growth in children whose growth is delayed.
Effects on GH
In animal and human studies of the acute response to clonidine, it effectively stimulates GH secretion. When the Italian scientists gave injections of clonidine to old beagle dogs along with growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), the GH peaks were more frequent and higher than with GHRH alone. And this response was only slightly reduced in old dogs compared with young adult ones.
The Florida scientists also note that in animal studies chronic use of clonidine raised pulsatile GH levels. Two groups reported increased pulsatile GH secretion in rats. And the University of Milan scientists found that in old dogs, fourteen days of clonidine administration increased the frequency and amplitude of the spontaneous growth hormone bursts as well as the overall GH secretion. In fact, the secretory patterns of growth hormone, say the researchers, was indistinguishable from that of untreated young dogs. In other words, clonidine completely reversed the loss of GH release that occurs with age!
It appears to have some potential as a “smart” drug. In one study it improved the mental function of some alcoholics with Korsakoff’s psychosis, alcohol-induced brain damage; patients had better recall, were mofe alert, and had improved learning ability.
Clonidine works to lower blood pressure by another route, stimulating a set of nerve endings called alpha-adrenergic blockers. While its effectiveness in raising GH has not yet been established in clinical studies, the Milan studies in animals show that it may have the potential for reversing the loss of GH pulsatility with age.
0.1 to 2.4 milligrams as directed by physician.
In dosages that are in the clinical range, it is safe and well tolerated. Most common side effects are dry mouth, drowsiness, and sedation. Other common side effects include constipation, dizziness, headache, and fatigue. Less frequently reported are orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, pain or swelling of glands in the throat, breast pain or swelling, arrhythmia, rapid heart rate, EKG changes, painful blood vessel spasm, diminished libido, elevated blood sugar, and general feelings of ill health.
It can not be taken with a beta blocker as the combination has caused blood pressure to rise in some people. Abrupt withdrawal from clonidine may cause rebound high blood pressure.
Dilantin is an anticonvulsant drug, related to barbiturates, used to prevent seizures in epileptics.
Effects on GH
The studies on Dilantin show varied results from no change to a significant elevation of growth hormone. A 1984 Italian study showed that Dilantin probably affects the hypothalamus-pituitary regulation of growth hormone. In this study five epileptic patients had a higher growth hormone response to L-dopa after one month of treatment with Dilantin.
In the most interesting study from the point of view of using Dilantin as a GH-releaser, a group of New Zealand researchers gave six healthy subjects 500 milligrams of the drug at night and then had them exercise on a stationary bicycle at 100 watts for forty minutes the following morning. The researchers also measured the GH levels of the same subjects doing the same exercise at the same intensity without Dilantin. Both times, their growth hormone concentrations rose at the end of the exercise, but after Dilantin, the peak was considerably higher. The study also found that Dilantin plus exercise caused an increase in free fatty acids and glycerol, which suggests, say the investigators, that Dilantin increases lipolysis, or the destruction of fat cells.
Side effects do not appear to be a problem in the very low dosages used for increasing intelligence, altering mood, or anti-aging purposes. It may be particularly helpful as a GH-releaser before exercising.
50 to 400 milligrams a half hour to one hour before exercise as directed by physician.
Although Dilantin appears to be safe at low dosages, it is still a drug and should be used with caution. The drug is usually well tolerated, and the Dreyfus Medical Reasearch Foundation reports that the few side effects associated with this drug are reversed when the drug is stopped. The following side effects have been reported in the Physician’s Desk Reference: unusual growth of gums, nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movement), uncontrolled twitching, double vision, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, confusion, slurred speech, fatigue, depression, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fever, rashes, hair loss, weight gain, joint pain, elevated blood sugar, coarsening of facial features, lip enlargement, hirsutism, Peyronie’s disease, liver damage, blood disorders.