Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating, progressive and chronic disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord). MS is increasingly thought to be a disease of the immune system whereby the body’s own defenses attack body tissues, particularly myelin, the fatty tissue that coats nerve fibers. MS varies greatly from patient to patient. There is no cure, but new treatments are being developed, including treatment with human growth hormone (HGH).
Human Growth Hormone
HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and regulates many of the body’s metabolic processes. Too little HGH results in stunted growth in children and a lack of lean muscle, too much body fat, brittle bones and wrinkle-prone skin in adults. Since 1985, HGH has been produced synthetically in the lab for use as a supplement in the treatment of many diseases, including MS. HGH has been shown to improve overall strength, libido, memory and lean muscle mass in many patients, though the potential side effects can be dangerous, especially at high doses, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For people suffering from MS, HGH can help build muscle, improve cognitive function and increase tolerance of exercise, according to the National MS Society. Studies are currently underway to test the benefits of HGH during MS remission, when patients are often undergoing physical therapy to strengthen atrophied muscles.
Side effects of synthetic human growth hormone include joint pain, muscle pain, swelling in the arms and legs and enlargement of breast tissue in men (gynecomastia). HGH can also cause diabetes and heart disease. For patients suffering from MS, the benefits of HGH may outweigh the side effects.
While 90 percent of MS patients experience a slow progression of the disease, the remaining 10 percent experience rapidly progressing, fatal MS. The key difference between the slowly progressing set and the rapidly progressing set is remyelination. In the slowly progressing set, myelin that has been attacked by the immune system and damaged can repair itself to some degree during remission. For the rapidly progressing set, this repair is hindered by a lack of HGH. Treating these patients with HGH has been shown to slow the rapid progress of their illness, according to an article in the journal Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Too much HGH can lead to a host of debilitating physical problems, even death, according to The Times UK. In extreme cases, HGH can overload the body’s adrenal system, causing bloating; enlarged hands, feet and jaw; and heart attack. HGH is only FDA approved for the treatment of growth and autoimmune disorders, though it is widely used as an anti-aging remedy.