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Question

What is HGH and why is it mentioned in connection with so many dietary supplement products?

OPSS Answer

HGH is “human growth hormone,” which the pituitary gland produces naturally to regulate growth in children and adolescents. Synthetic HGH has been around since the 1980s, and FDA has approved its use in medicine to treat children with certain growth disorders and adults with other conditions. HGH is sold over the counter for anti-aging and other uses, but it is not approved and not proven effective for these uses. And over-the-counter products with “HGH” in their names may or may not actually contain human growth hormone, so be sure to read the label carefully. What’s more, even with legitimate medical use, there are significant side effects, including headaches...and muscle pain.

Currently, HGH is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and most sports organizations; in the U.S. it is illegal to possess or distribute HGH for any purpose other than those uses approved by FDA and prescribed by a physician. For more on this, please read the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2011 information sheet “Human Growth Hormone.” For the current FDA guidelines with regard to HGH use, see FDA Import Alert 66-71. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an informative web page that may also be helpful: "Anti-Aging Products."

FAQ updated 10 May 2014

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