Growth hormone (GH) is a protein-based poly-peptide hormone which is produced by the pituitary gland in the human body. It stimulates growth and cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals. It is a 191-amino acid, single-chain polypeptide hormone that is synthesized, stored, and secreted by the somatotroph cells within the lateral wings of the anterior pituitary gland. In supplement form, human growth hormone is used to treat children who experience a hormone deficiency. Children receiving human growth hormone supplements typically respond by growing faster, increasing their strength, and reducing body fat, often without significant side effects. In the past, human growth hormone was extracted from human pituitary glands. Today human growth hormone supplements are also developed synthetically, but not without controversy.

While natural human growth hormone supplements have widely accepted applications in helping people, especially children, who have a growth hormone deficiency, synthetic human growth hormone supplements have also spawned a controversial market. The market for human growth hormone supplements is targeted primarily toward those who wish to turn back the clock. People who seek to delay the effects of aging are drawn toward human growth hormone supplements because of their reported effects, such as increased muscle mass and healthier skin. However, when used to combat aging in an unsupervised fashion, human growth hormone supplements have been linked to excess fluid retention, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is for that reason that the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists has warned that human growth hormone supplements should not be used as an anti-aging treatment.

Another use for human growth hormone supplements is in body building. It is no surprise that any product that can decrease body fat and increase muscle mass would be attractive to body builders. But body builders beware, human growth hormone supplements have also been known to cause an undesirable swelling of breast tissue in men.

While doctors warn against unmonitored use of human growth hormone supplements, their role as a legitimate form of treatment has grown in recent years. The Food and Drug Administration now approves of the use of human growth hormone supplements in order to treat adult men and women who suffer from deficiencies related to the pituitary glands.

When used properly, and with medical supervision, human growth hormone supplements can be an invaluable asset to adults whose bodies lack the natural hormones to maintain healthy skin, body mass, and bone density.