Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder with a plethora of symptoms. The exact mechanism of this condition remains unknown and the treatment is elusive, but a recent medical discovery may bring a ray of hope. This includes the use of human growth hormone (HGH) as a fibromyalgia treatment.
If you have fibromyalgia, you are probably quite familiar with the painful symptoms. Most fibromyalgia patients suffer in silence, because they can’t find anything to relieve all of their symptoms. If they do find something, it only addresses some of the effects of fibromyalgia – not all of them. Thankfully, researchers have been working hard to find out more about this mysterious ailment.
Their research has revealed some interesting facts about HGH and fibromyalgia, but before we begin, let’s learn a bit more about fibromyalgia and how it affects patients. If you have it, or know someone who does, it is important to find or provide support, because dealing with this illness is a struggle each and every day for patients. Let’s take a look at the symptoms first.
Fibromyalgia comes with some or most of the following symptoms:
- Increased pain throughout the body and heightened sensitivity to pain.
- Stiffness of muscles.
- Feeling enervated and lethargic all the times.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Brain fog or having hard time concentrating on things.
- Repeated attacks of headaches.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with pain in your abdomen and bloating.
Knowing these symptoms is important, and later in this article, we’ll discuss how HGH helps improves these symptoms. Be sure to read right down to the end of this article to learn more about this mysterious condition. We’ll also give you six facts about the connection of HGH and fibromyalgia.
1. HGH and IGF-1 Deficiency Is Common in Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Human growth hormone, or HGH, is one of the most critical body hormones. Your brain contains a region called the pituitary gland. It is also called the master gland, since it releases most of the important body hormones. HGH is one of the hormones released by your pituitary gland.
HGH is an anabolic hormone. It participates in those body processes that result in growth and better health. It causes growth of bones, enhanced brain function and improved quality of life, but there is a catch. Your body’s HGH does not function well on its own. Most of your body cells do not recognize HGH.
HGH relies on another hormone called the Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) to reach its target. Think of IGF-1 as a train that helps HGH reach its destination. Without enough IGF-1, HGH will not reach its target cells and will fail to perform its actions. That is exactly what happens in fibromyalgia too.
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by intense pain in different body parts. HGH is a strong modulator of body pain and its decreased levels may have a role in fibromyalgia pain. How it modulates pain, the detail is in the later sections.
Researchers believe that HGH and IGF-1 have a strong link with fibromyalgia. There are two main reasons for this belief. First, researchers recorded the amounts of HGH and IGF-1 in fibromyalgia sufferers. They found that 30 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers had sub-normal levels of these hormones. The second proof is even more reassuring. What researchers found in their study was a breakthrough.
Researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences University inducted fibromyalgia sufferers into a study. The sufferers were randomly divided into two groups. They were either given daily growth hormone injections or received a placebo. After nine months, researchers collected and evaluated the results. They found that the treatment group showed significant improvement in their blood IGF-1 levels. Moreover, the treatment group reported significant reduction in their fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain.
To summarize, HGH exerts its effects through IGF-1. Decreases in the levels of these hormones is connected to fibromyalgia.
2. HGH Improves Sleep Disturbance in Fibromyalgia
Sleep disturbance is both “the cause and the effect” of a lack of HGH in fibromyalgia. Here is what this means.
Inadequate sleep is the “effect” of a lack of HGH. There are several reasons to why that happens:
- Low HGH levels increase your sensitivity to painful stimuli. Your brain responds violently to painful stimuli that would have been otherwise innocuous. So, even a single needle prick can cause excruciating pain. It is impossible to sleep when you are in pain, right?
- A lack of sleep is due to Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis disturbances, as well. Your brain contains a region called the hypothalamus. It releases hormones that signal the pituitary. Pituitary, in turn, releases hormones that signal the release of hormones from adrenal glands. One of the hormones released by adrenals is cortisol. Together, this system forms the HPA axis.When you have low HGH, your HPA axis is disrupted. This disruption causes a derangement in the release of cortisol, too. Research shows that a non-fluctuating cortisol level is a must for a normal sleep-wake cycle. Without that, both the quality and quantity of your sleep are compromised.
- A lack of HGH causes a decrease in the release of calming brain chemicals. These chemicals include dopamine and serotonin. Without these chemicals, it becomes difficult for you to fall asleep.
That is just one side of the picture. Not getting enough sleep is one cause for a decrease in HGH levels, as well. That is due to two main reasons:
- HGH is mainly released during sleep, so if you are not getting enough sleep, the release of HGH will be lower.
- Sleep deprivation causes increase in a brain chemical called somatostatin. Somatostatin causes a decrease in HGH levels.
The bottom line is that sleep and HGH levels have a deep connection. The disturbance of one can lead to a disruption in the other.
Now, here goes the real question. Does HGH therapy improve sleep in fibromyalgia? The answer is yes. Results of a study showed that HGH therapy not only improves pain but helps improve sleep quality too.
3. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue: HGH May Be the Link
Fatigue that does not go away with rest is another feature of fibromyalgia. Researchers call such fatigue Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia often co-exist. Together, these disorders affect around 20 million Americans every year.
If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, you may experience following symptoms:
- Waxing and Waning Fever
- Throat Irritation
- Flu-Like Symptoms
- Joint Pains
- Muscle Aches
- Irritable Moods
Researchers are still trying to figure what connects fibromyalgia with debilitating fatigue syndrome. Although the connection is unclear; but HGH may have some role to play.
HGH levels are low in fibromyalgia. Are these levels low in fatigue syndrome too?
The answer to this question came from a Belgian study. A team of researchers studied HGH levels in chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers. The study included 20 diagnosed cases of chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers measured the blood levels of HGH and IGF-1 in the participants. They found that the levels of both these hormones were lower than normal individuals.
To cap it all, deficiency of HGH and IGF-1 is an important event in both fibromyalgia and CFS. In fact, it may be the basic link between these two conditions. So, should you expect an improvement in fatigue syndrome symptoms with the use of HGH?
Researchers at the University Hospital Antwerp, Belgium tried to answer this question. The research included 20 diagnosed cases of CFS. Researchers divided the participants into two groups: the treatment and the placebo group. The treatment group received HGH therapy for 12 weeks. The placebo group received no treatment.
After 12 weeks, results came out. The IGF-1 levels almost doubled in the treatment group at the end of 12 weeks. HGH was able to improve the quality of life too. More than half of the treatment group participants were able to get back to work after a long sick leave.
Therefore, HGH may be the answer to both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
4. HGH Improves Cognitive Decline in Fibromyalgia
If you have fibromyalgia, it may be getting harder for you to concentrate on things. This is what researchers call “brain fog.” Fibromyalgia takes away your mental sharpness. It makes your thoughts sluggish and hazy. It may become difficult for you to even make simple decisions as your fibromyalgia gets worse. It may take you longer now to complete those tasks that where easy before.
Again, researchers are trying to find the exact cause of brain fog in fibromyalgia. They believe it is due to several structural and hormonal disturbances. Your brain has several major portions called the brain lobes. There are four major brain lobes:
Each lobe has its own specific function. For instance, the occipital lobe is mainly linked with vision. But, the frontal and parietal lobes are the most important ones when it comes to cognition. These lobes help with mental sharpness, decision making and assist you in analysing things.
Researchers at the Federal University of São Paulo studied brain changes in fibromyalgia. According to the researchers, cognitive decline is even more debilitating than physical pain. They found that fibromyalgia targets the frontal and temporal lobes of human brain. The disease affects both structural and functional aspects of these regions. With a malfunction in these regions; your thinking capacity declines, too.
Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of these brain changes. But, they believe that low levels of HGH may have some role here, too. That is because HGH is long known for its ability to improve brain function. It increases the number of connections between brain neurons.
Your brain contains trillions of cells called neurons. All these neurons interlink and communicate with each other, like a huge spider web. The functional capacity of your brain depends on number of connections between these neurons. Greater are these connections, faster your brain works. HGH improves the number of these connections.
The main question, again, is the same. Should you expect improvement in your cognition by using HGH? Researchers at the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry, Germany studied this relation. Research tried to find if HGH supplementation was helpful in improving cognitive decline. For that, researchers chose 18 patients with low HGH levels.
Researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group received HGH therapy and the other group received a placebo. Results evaluated aspects of memory, attention and learning at three and six month intervals.
It was clear at the end of six months that HGH was an excellent way of improving cognition. The therapy group showed remarkable improvements in their attention spans. They also showed improvements in their short term memory. The placebo group did not experience any improvement. Researchers concluded that HGH is a safe way of improving cognitive decline.
5. HGH Therapy Addresses the Root Cause and Has a Promising Safety Profile
There are two main problems with conventional fibromyalgia therapies:
- The treatment is usually symptomatic. The drugs currently in use only address the symptoms, not the root cause of this condition. You will experience improvements as long as you keep using the drugs. When you give up, you will go back to the same starting point.That is not how HGH works. HGH not only provides symptomatic relief, it actually addresses the root cause. In other words, the use of HGH may actually reverse this condition.
- Current treatment methods have an objectionable safety profile. The current treatment protocols include taking a handful of pills, one for each symptom. This increases the risk of side effects and negative drug interactions as well.
HGH therapy has an upper hand here, too. HGH is an all-in-one answer for fibromyalgia. With this therapy, you do not have to use other pills or medicines. This reduces the risks of side effects and drug interactions. Researchers have also attested to the safety of this therapy. After much research, they have not been able to find a case where HGH therapy caused serious side effects.
6. HGH is a Strong Modulator of Fibromyalgia Pain
Pain is the chief complaint of fibromyalgia sufferers. In fact, it may be your only presenting issue in fibromyalgia. Results of a research showed that pain is the main complain in at least 62 percent of fibromyalgia cases. The pain may hit only one part of your body, but generally, you may experience pain at different sites and joints.
Here, again, low HGH levelsare the main culprit. Researchers blame low HGH for fibromyalgia pain due to its potent analgesic effects. In normal concentrations, HGH alleviates pain both through central and peripheral effects. What are these central and peripheral analgesic effects of HGH? Here is the explanation for you.
The central analgesic effects of growth hormone are due to its effects on the chemistry of your brain. When you are in pain, your body increases the release of growth hormone. This HGH then interacts with other chemicals in your brain called opioids. Opioids act like pain killers on your brain pain centers. They blunt your pain. But, the story is different when you have fibromyalgia.
When you have fibromyalgia, your body does not produce enough growth hormones. The levels of growth hormones do not increase even when you experience pain. As a result, your brain fails to release natural opioids. This intensifies your pain further. To put in simple words, growth hormones suppress the pain centers of your brain in an indirect way. It does so by increasing the release of opioids in your brain.
Growth hormone masks your pain through its peripheral effect, as well. Here is what the peripheral analgesic effect of growth hormone means. Pain is a warning system of your body. Through pain, your body tries to tell you that something is not right.
Pain is usually a by-product of ongoing inflammation in your body. Inflammation is a natural process through which your body fights harmful bacteria and toxins. Your body releases a lot of chemicals during this process. These chemicals kill bacteria and other invaders, but there is a downside to this, too. These chemicals do some collateral damage to your body tissues, as well.
When your tissues get damaged, this is when you experience pain.
This means if you could somehow limit the inflammation, you could mitigate your pain, too. That is exactly how growth hormone functions. Growth hormone reduces inflammation and decreases the production of pain causing chemicals.
Researchers at the American University of Beirut demonstrated this ability of HGH. They injected toxins into the mice, which then promoted pain and inflammation. Researchers then treated the mice with HGH. To their surprise, HGH was able to limit the inflammation and reduce the pain.
This is not all just a theory. Research shows that HGH is an excellent way of relieving fibromyalgia pain. A Spanish study looked into the efficacy of using HGH in treating fibromyalgia pain. In that study, researchers inducted 24 fibromyalgia sufferers.
Researchers then separated the inductees into two groups. One group received HGH injections, while the other group received placebo. The study continued for one year at the end of which they collected and analyzed the data. Results showed that the HGH group experienced 60 percent reduction in pain.
Another research shows that you can achieve at least 53 percent reduction in pain by using HGH. In fact, there are dozens of similar studies that prove the same point.
Fibromyalgia is a mysterious condition. There are still a lot of undiscovered facts about it. The current treatment options are unsatisfactory. In such conditions, HGH has started to emerge as a plausible treatment option.
Researchers have started to unveil the mysteries of how low HGH causes this condition. They have also started to understand how to treat this condition using HGH. The preliminary research results are promising, but this field still needs a lot of work. May be one day researchers will be able to fully decode the link between HGH and fibromyalgia.