Human growth hormone or HGH and Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA are both the hormones made by our body. But the DHEA vs HGH debate is a long-standing one.
If you have dabbled with bodybuilding or antiaging supplements, then you must have come across DHEA or HGH. Both these hormones are naturally produced and help the body to grow and develop. Athletes and individuals are found exploiting DHEA and HGH for performance boosting and slowing the aging process, which has attracted a lot of controversies. Taking these hormones through synthetic supplementation is not readily accepted by the body and as a result, serious health problems arise. Therefore, proper medical consultation is a must before taking a DHEA or HGH supplement.
Human Growth Hormone
The pituitary gland, a small structure present on the anterior side of the brain secretes the natural growth hormone in the body. This HGH is used by the body to build organ tissues and muscles along with the strengthening of bones. During childhood and early teen years, the body produces HGH in a high amount to promote overall growth. As we age, the production starts to decline, making way for signs of aging to appear in your body.
This is why HGH supplements are claimed to restore the age of the body or slow down the aging process. We will further look into what the medical evidence suggests about the effect of HGH in synthetic form along with medical findings supporting them. The best way to understand the difference between DHEA and HGH is to study their particular uses.
Uses for HGH
Doctors have commonly prescribed HGH for children to treat abnormal growth rates for long. However, the use of HGH for kids is not approved for every condition but, the Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency has approved the use of growth hormone therapy for the following indications:
Growth hormone deficiency in kids is a rare problem, but when it occurs there is no other possible treatment than HGH therapy. According to a study published by the NCBI, it is concluded that:
“In conclusion, the available evidence suggests that long-term GH therapy reduces the adult height deficit in children with ISS. The still open question is whether this treatment is worthwhile considering the impact of the height gained on physical and psychosocial wellbeing, burden for patients and parents, potential adverse effects, cost of therapy, and patients’/parents’ expectations.”
It is very uncommon to find growth hormone deficiency in adults, which is why one of the most common uses of HGH supplements in adults is to prevent wasting syndrome resulting from diseases like AIDS and certain types of cancers.
In an article published on PubMed titled Recombinant Human Growth Hormone for AIDS-associated Wasting the effect of recombinant human growth hormone supplement on AIDS patients was studied.
In such patients, there are associated metabolic disorders like weight loss, depletion of lean body mass for LBM, and preservation of body fat that ultimately leads to muscle loss and organ failure. After recombinant HGH therapy, the study concluded:
“Trials with rhGH on the control of wasting in patients with AIDS have been encouraging…Studies demonstrate that rhGH increases LBM and decreases adipose tissue, but how these translate into long-term outcomes such as decreased hospitalization, morbidity, and mortality has yet to be determined.”
HGH injections can also increase bone density as clinically proven in a study on postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
In the study, eight osteoporotic, postmenopausal women between the age of 50-70 years were randomized to recombinant human growth hormone (GH), 1.0 U, or 2.5 U/day. The therapy continued for 18 months. At the end of the study, it was found that the total body bone mineral content was highest in the GH 2.5 U group. Also, the total body and femoral neck bone mineral content, as well as lumbar spine bone mineral content, continued to grow in women who received growth hormone therapy.
The study concluded that growth hormone can be successfully used as an anabolic agent in osteoporosis.
Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA
The adrenal glands present at the top of the kidneys produce DHEA. This is a major differentiation between DHEA vs HGH. Scientists do not know everything about this endogenous hormone, but they do know that DHEA is a precursor to male and female sex hormones including testosterone and estrogen. The production of dehydroepiandrosterone is at a peak at 20 but starts to decline afterward. There can be several physical ailments due to the deficiency of DHEA. This deficiency can be age-induced or can result from conditions such as diabetes, AIDS, coronary artery disease, end-stage kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Uses of DHEA
DHEA and HGH both have different applications. But often their use as a combined course for bodybuilding is seen, which can result in complications.
Although DHEA supplements are claimed to have a beneficial effect on medical conditions:
- Addison’s disease
- Cervical Cancer
- Heart diseases
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis and
- Sexual dysfunction
Both National Standard and NIH claim that the evidence suggesting any significant benefit of DHEA for these conditions is unclear.
One important use of DHEA supplementation is for women with diminished ovarian reserve. According to a report published in the NCBI, several studies suggest that with DHEA the pregnancy rates in women can be improved.
As per the report with DHEA therapy, there is improved follicular steroidogenesis, increased IGF-1, DHEA acts as a pre-hormone for follicular testosterone, it reduced aneuploidy, and increases AMH and antral follicle count.
Here is a graph comparing miscarriage rates at all ages between DHEA supplemented infertility patients vs national U.S. IVF outcome data:
However, the findings of these studies on the role of DHEA are intriguing, there is a substantial lack of evidence. Therefore, the study concluded:
“While nearly 25 % of IVF programs use DHEA currently, large randomized prospective trials are sorely needed. Until (and if) such trials are conducted, DHEA may be of benefit in suitable, well informed, and consented women with diminished ovarian reserve.”
DHEA vs HGH: Wrap Up
DHEA HGH supplements are sold claiming that they can naturally improve the body’s physical and hormonal biology, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
Synthetic DHEA and HGH supplements without proper consultation can harm your body. But writing purely from the perspective of comparison, we can say that:
- DHEA and HGH, both are needed for the proper functioning of the body, but growth hormone is much more important for human body development.
- DHEA is more associated with the sex hormones as compared to HGH which is an essential building block of the body.
- HGH production drops earlier than DHEA, which is why it is important to keep a track of associated symptoms.
While synthetic supplements are not advisable, you can naturally boost growth hormone production with the use of oral HGH supplements like GenF20 Plus and HyperGH 14X that stimulate the secretion of HGH.