One of the most frequently asked questions in medicine and sport these days is “is HGH a steroid,” and the answer is no. HGH is not a steroid, although some of its functions might seem to cross that line.
If it is not a steroid, then what is human growth hormone?
HGH is a polypeptide protein consisting of 191 amino acids in a single chain. It falls in the category of peptide hormones and not steroid hormones. The reason for much of the confusion is that some of the properties of HGH are anabolic in nature. That is what you would expect from steroids.
Although you will see some similarities between HGH and steroids, the differences hold them apart. Yes, HGH can build lean muscle mass and strengthen bones the same as with anabolic steroids such as testosterone, but these benefits do not occur in the same manner.
For those still asking is HGH a steroid hormone, another difference is in where these hormones are manufactured. Steroid hormones such as testosterone come from the sexual organs, such as the testes in men and the ovaries in women. Human growth hormone comes from the pituitary gland. One interesting note is that HGH will help stimulate testosterone production.
What Is a Steroid?
The term steroid has different meanings because there are various types of steroids. Some steroids are corticosteroids that primarily aid in healing inflammatory conditions. When people ask is growth hormone a steroid hormone it is often because they are thinking about its role in muscle-building and illegal athletic use. That would entail lumping HGH into the same category as anabolic steroids of which it is not.
- Anabolic steroids such as testosterone have the following properties:
- Anti-inflammatory compounds
- Considered ergogenic aids
- Promote protein synthesis
- Enhance physical ability and strength
- Banned by professional sports
- Often used illegally
When we answer the question is HGH a steroid, it is often asked because someone has heard of its illegal use in sports. As with testosterone and other anabolic steroids, HGH is banned in professional sports. However, there is ongoing conversation and research into this topic.
Whereas testosterone will increase lean muscle mass, strength, and stamina in healthy individuals, HGH will not provide those benefits. HGH can only accomplish muscle growth as a deficiency treatment in adults who are growth hormone lacking.
One of the benefits of HGH that is currently under research is how it can help speed the healing process from injury and surgery. Because HGH stimulates cell regeneration, it can help prevent muscle loss when an athlete is injured and requires surgery. The result is a speedier healing time and return to the sport. That research is currently ongoing and funded by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
How Is HGH Different from a Steroid?
Testosterone and HGH deficiencies cause many of the same symptoms, and their benefits are also similar. However, there are ways that they differ from one another.
Here are some facts about the HGH steroids difference and similarities:
Weight – HGH regulates all forms of metabolism (protein, carbohydrates, lipids) by stimulating thyroid hormones. Growth hormone secreted while you sleep aids in the conversion of food into fuel for the next day. Low HGH levels cause an increase in fat retention. Testosterone also exerts influence on metabolism, so both hormones can aid in weight loss.
Muscle – only testosterone has a direct impact on muscle mass development. Using HGH illegally when your body produces enough growth hormone will not further increase muscle size or strength. HGH will improve muscle mass in growth hormone deficient adults. However, it will never create the bulked muscles you get with steroid use.
Appearance – while testosterone may provide some minor benefits, as with aiding hair growth by reducing DHT levels, it is HGH that stimulates cellular regeneration that increases hair growth and thickness, collagen and elastin production, and reduces skin sagging, wrinkles, and cellulite for a more youthful appearance.
Injury recovery – HGH is the stimulator of new cells, not testosterone. While testosterone does increase red blood cell production, it is HGH that provides the cells that speed the healing process.
Libido – worry not, both HGH and testosterone can help improve sex drive and performance in males and females.
What you need to know when asking is HGH a steroid is that both androgen and amino acid hormones are essential for the body. Knowing which one you need is a question best left to a hormone specialist to answer. You cannot determine the answer without undergoing comprehensive blood analysis to measure your hormone levels.