Dr Des Fernandes The Shirnel Clinic
Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
The pituitary gland is a little appendage attached to the lower aspect of the brain and has been described as the “conductor” of the hormonal orchestra that keeps the body in harmony. Following instructions from the brain and responding to information from blood chemistry, the pituitary secretes various hormones that govern the activity of the whole body. One of these hormones is “Growth Hormone” and you would expect from the name that this hormone makes our tissues grow. That is one reason why people fear the use of GH: they worry that it may make cancers grow. However, GH would be better termed “Healing hormone” because it regulates the normal growth and restoration of cells and tissues.
When we are young, we secrete GH in fairly large quantities. It is generally released in little spurts periodically during the day and especially at night. We cannot predict exactly when GH will be released and so if blood samples are taken in between the spurts for GH then it may show a low reading whereas if the sample were taken at the moment of a GH release, then the levels would be normal. For that reason we generally measure another compound called Somatomedin, which gives us a better idea of the overall GH activity because somatomedin is formed by the action of GH. GH exerts it’s effects, very largely, by the action of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)
Ultimately GH works on the DNA of cells and optimises their function. Cells grow better, wounds heal faster, joint cartilage is stabilised and re- enforced, muscles grow stronger and the heart muscle works better. In fact, cells behave like they did when they were young. In the skin we see important activities. GH ensures that fibroblasts behave well and create healthy collagen and elastin in abundance. In addition more glycoseaminoglycans are produced and they promote the hydration of the skin, so the skin becomes normally hydrated and keeps its structure well under stress. Blood vessels are kept in a healthy state to optimise the nutrition of the skin. You can see that adequate levels of GH are essential for healthy beautiful skin.
However, as we pass the age of thirty, we secrete less and less GH until by the age of about 60 we secrete only about 15% of what we were secreting when we were twenty. You can easily see these changes even in people who have minimal photo-ageing. The skin becomes thinner, finer and even though there are no wrinkles, it starts to sag.
The dermis becomes thinner and fat deposits in the face start to disappear because they are no longer kept in optimal condition by GH. The facial muscles loose their tone and even though the skin may be un- wrinkled, the face looses its youthful appearance. The bones of the face
are also affected and they become thinner. All of these features result from a lack of hormones in general and not just GH, but GH is a very important part of the cocktail that keeps cells in their optimal condition. Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are also important as is thyroid hormone, DHEA and pregnenolone – which are all controlled by the pituitary gland.
Not only is the face affected but also all other parts of the body. The muscles even in previously well developed people, become smaller, weaker and less able to endure prolonged exercise. One cannot easily exercise these muscles back into their pristine state. Ultimately, if we live long enough, then we will develop the classical picture of age: sagging flabby skin with poor elasticity, sunken cheeks, droopy bottoms, shapeless muscles and frail bones. Some enthusiasts may believe that this can all be prevented by using adequate amounts of topical vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants and other chemicals which stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Unfortunately there is a limit to what topical vitamins A and C and other molecules can do.
The truth is they cannot mimic the effects of hormones. Vitamin A certainly has important effects in concert with hormones but cannot achieve those effects without the hormones Only hormones can do that.
When you look at an old person you see the manifestation on their face and exposed areas of chronic deficiency of vitamin A, coupled with the relentless effects of free radical damage to their collagen, elastin and other tissues, as well as the progressive deficiency of essential hormones that are necessary to keep cells working properly. These hormones help to repair DNA when it is damaged. The areas that have not been exposed to sunlight also sag and become atrophic. The muscles are weak and the joints are creaking. This decay and weakness is due to intrinsic ageing and a major cause of intrinsic ageing is hormonal deficiency. Chief amongst those hormones, though none of them can claim to be effective by themselves, is GH.
What can we do about this? Should we accept Nature’s decree that this is the way we have to grow old? Is it un-natural to try and prevent this decay that slides us into disease, and a dwindling enjoyment of being alive? I would ask if it is un-natural to treat someone who has an infection or a vitamin deficiency because of the way that they eat? I don’t think so. I know there are people who say we should accept what Nature gives us and grow old gracefully. However, they are reluctant to see the truth that Nature actually plans for many of us to grow old disgracefully and lose our independence and dignity.
I believe we should try and address this hormone deficiency. In regard to GH, we can promote the release of GH in greater quantities when we are in our thirties by taking a cocktail of amino acids etc that stimulate the release of GH from the pituitary. We could also do special exercises that will stimulate the release of GH. When the larger muscles of the legs are exercised, then they will set up a chemical reaction that will
induce the pituitary to release more GH. It is important to do strenuous exercises such as lifting heavy weights with the legs in order to get this effect. If you are at the stage when your deficiency of GH is beginning to show, then I advise you to take up gym, and it will be better if you get yourself a personal trainer for a while. Do these exercises at least three times a week for about an hour in total – remember you have to exercise other muscles groups as well! After a few months of exercise, not only will your body shape be better, but you will notice that your appearance will also be more youthful.
If you are looking for more, then consult an anti-ageing medical practitioneri who has gained expertise with methods to slow down the process of ageing and besides other hormones and special supplements, you might be recommended to use Human GH. This has to be administered by twice daily injections at this stage. After about six months you should be able to detect a noticeable rejuvenation of you skin, your muscles and in general your body shape will be that of a younger person.
The first big trial on the effects of GH were done about 14 years ago by Dr. Rudman in the USA. Many of the trialists showed remarkable rejuvenation of their appearance, and also well being. They behaved like younger people. Many doctors have been concerned that they might have achieved this at the risk of enhancing the growth of cancers. As far as is known, GH has never activated any cancers, but it has enlivened people and restored their dignity and independence.
GH is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. Unfortunately, you cannot apply GH to the surface of the skin. If your levels are falling then start to do controlled heavy exercise with your legs, and consult an anti- ageing medical practitioner. Of course you should at the same time take care of your skin by ensuring that you restore the vitamin A levels every single day and also boost the antioxidant protection. Other special molecules will also help to improve collagen, elastin etc., but nothing can work in place of the hormones like Growth Hormone. For those who would like to know more I suggest that you read “The Hormone Solution” by Dr. Thierry Hertogheii.
i There are special practitioners devoted to anti-ageing medicine in Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.
ii The Hormone Solution Stay younger longer with natural hormone and nutrition therapies. Thierry Hertoghe M.D. with Jules-Jacques Nabet M.D. Harmony Books New York 2002