When people talk about performance-enhancing drugs, most of us would probably think of human growth hormones (HGH) and anabolic steroids arising on top of the list.
While they are often discussed simultaneously, almost making it seem like they are a derivative of either or are the same in nature, some people are not aware of their major differences.
However, before discussing their differences, it is better to know and understand each of their characteristics, where they come from, and how they affect our bodies – regardless if we’re athletes or not – in general.
HUMAN GROWTH HORMONES
Human growth hormones or simply, HGH is naturally produced by the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain.
It generally stimulates growth in children and adolescents.
It is also known to help in regulating body composition, chemicals in the body, muscle and bone growth, density and mass, glucose and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function.
In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature or low levels of human growth hormones due to several medical causes.
In adults, some of the approved uses of HGH include short bowel syndrome – a condition which is characterized by low nutrient absorption due to either severe and/or chronic intestinal disease or the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine – HGH deficiency due to pituitary tumors or severe damage of the pituitary gland and muscle-wasting due to HIV/AIDS.
Somatropin, as it is known to many, is a synthetic form of human growth hormone made available in the market that is generally used to treat stunted growth in children and adults with lesser natural growth hormones in their bodies.
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It is also used as a treatment for chronic illnesses like kidney failure, Noonan syndrome, Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and many others.
Some medical specialists also use this treatment to prevent sudden and severe weight loss in patients with HIV/AIDS.
It may also be used for other purposes such as anti-aging, development of muscle mass in bodybuilders and athletes, and improvement of sexual urge and overall stamina.
Anabolic steroids are also naturally produced in the body and have several functions.
Some of these functions include the promotion of the growth of skeletal muscles (anabolic effects) and the development of secondary sex characteristics of males (androgenic effects) in both males and females.
Steroids are used primarily to treat hypogonadism – a condition characterized by the inability of the testes to produce enough testosterone that can stimulate normal growth, development, and sexual functioning.
The basic medical uses of anabolic steroids are to treat delayed puberty, impotence, and muscle wasting either associated with HIV/AIDS or other diseases.
It was in the early 1930s when studies have uncovered the ability of anabolic steroids to facilitate skeletal muscle growth, thus leading to the use and abuse of bodybuilders, weightlifters, and even athletes of this compound.
Although it is prohibited, many athletes especially in America, Canada, and the UK often choose to use this because of its effects on muscle mass and strength, as well as agility and overall performance.