o HGH and IGF-1 have an impact on Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus—is a disorder where the body struggles to process sugars and starches (carbohydrates) effectively. It’s the job of the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, which works to reduce to the amount of sugar in the blood by carrying glucose from the bloodstream into your body’s cells. When this happens effectively, your body is able to use the glucose as energy or store the glucose in the liver until it needs the fuel.
But in the case of diabetes, blood glucose levels stay too high or too low as the pancreas struggles to secrete the correct amounts of insulin. There are two types of diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
This type is often called Juvenile Diabetes and is a result of the pancreas not producing enough insulin to process sugar. This type of diabetes is often caused by an autoimmune response as the body’s immune system attacks and damages its own pancreas.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type is often called Adult Onset Diabetes and is best described as insulin resistance. Cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means that glucose doesn’t get carried into the cells where it’s needed but instead remains in the bloodstream. Obesity is often a lead contributor to this type of diabetes as fat cells displace insulin-receptor cells.
HGH and Diabetes: What We Know
Aging (after 35) can also cause our cells to lose their ability to property utilize insulin. As cells become less efficient at utilizing insulin, the result is higher levels of insulin in the bloodstream (high blood sugar) or higher levels of insulin (which can lead to low blood sugar).
As we age, the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) our body produces drops. This hormone is responsible for normal growth and development of children, but may now play an important role in helping diabetics stabilize blood sugar.
We know that HGH deficiency can lead to hypoglycemia. But we also know that too much HGH—levels of HGH that are dangerously high found in those who abuse HGH injections for body building or sports performance—may lead to Type 2 diabetes.
But, Does HGH Cause Diabetes?
Aside from the aforementioned connection between abuse of HGH injections and Type 2 diabetes, research is actually showing quite the opposite. Balanced HGH levels can play a role in helping insulin sensitivity and in improving blood sugar levels.
Can HGH Help Diabetes?
Groundbreaking research has found that a decrease in HGH in adults contributes to the signs and symptoms of aging. Clinical studies additional show that restoring HGH can actually improve certain health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
While large doses of HGH, via injections, may lead to increased insulin resistance and higher blood glucose levels at first, clinical studies—such as those conducted by Drs. Rudman and Swedish endocrinologist, Dr. Bengtsson—show that after six months of HGH therapy a patient’s insulin sensitivity returned to where it had been before therapy.
Researchers also concluded that HGH did not increase blood glucose levels or make a patient diabetic, the improvement in the patient’s body composition because of HGH (i.e. a decrease in fat cells) may be what offset any potentially negative effects of HGH on insulin.
According to a Johns Hopkins study, elderly people with low HGH (which may also connect to extra intra-abdominal fat) and higher blood sugar can have a positive response in their blood sugar levels when given correct amounts of HGH therapy.
Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, a hormone replacement specialist in Brussels, believes that HGH can help promote the action of insulin and that because HGH directs insulin to put glucose into muscle, cardiac, and nerve cells instead of fat cells—HGH may improve diabetes.
A key part of this puzzle may be a powerful growth factor hormone called IGF-1.
IGF-1 and Insulin Resistance
IGF-1 is the shorthand name for insulin-like growth factor 1, a hormone that has properties similar to insulin and has been demonstrated to improve blood sugar profiles in type 2 diabetics. While high doses of HGH may increase insulin resistance, the administration of IGF-1 can offset this and actually normalize insulin resistance.
In a study conducted at the Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville, Nelly Mauras and Bernard Beaufrere studied the effects of IGF-1 on a number of different body systems. They looked at how IGF-1 impacts protein metabolism, its ability to stop the protein-wasting caused by glucocoricosteroid drugs like prednisone, and the effect of IGF-1 on insulin and glucose metabolism. Using volunteers, they created three control groups. One received IGF-1 alone, one received IGF-1 and prednisone, and one received prednisone alone.
Their study concluded that IGF-1 at 100 mcg per kilogram of body weight—when given twice daily—enhanced the body’s protein metabolism in the same way that HGH did. They also found that IGF-1 markedly decreased the protein breakdown in volunteers who were taking prednisone, but IGF-1 did not cause the diabetes-like effects of carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance as HGH had done in combination with the prednisone in an earlier study. These test subjects, instead, had normal glucose metabolism. Because glucocorticoids like prednisone are known to decrease insulin sensitivity and suppress circulating insulin in the body, these researchers found these results remarkable and promising.
IGF-1 and Diabetes
It’s important to understand that IGF-1 is not the same as insulin, although it can work on many of the same cells as insulin. IGF-1 and HGH influence the sensitivity of the effects of insulin on the body’s cells. If these cells are unable to take and circulate the incoming glucose, this is what leads to excessively high blood sugar levels and this, in turn, leads to diabetes. You want these cells to be sensitive and receptive to incoming glucose.
Studies have shown great promise in using IGF-1 for diabetic patients. In 1997, two double blind clinical studies demonstrated that recombinant IGF-1 injections can reduce the need for insulin in diabetic patients who are insulin-dependent by up to 45 percent. The study included adults aged 24 to 49 and children between the ages of 8 and 17. The fact that test subjects saw such a dramatic drop in their insulin requirements during such a short-term trial, with no other serious side effects, makes it likely that IGF-1 may offer a promising treatment of diabetes.
Rudman, Daniel, Feller, Axel G., et al, "Effects of Human Growth Hormone in Men over 60 Years Old," The New England Journal of Medicine, July 1990.
Mauras, Nelly, O’Brien, Kimberly O., et al, "," The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 85, Issue 4, 1 April 2000.
Hale, Larry, M.D., “Is HGH Good for Diabetics?”November 27, 2018.