Supplements for boosting HGH growth hormone levels are all the rage in bodybuilding, sports, anti-aging, and general health. Add green tea to this list, which boosts HGH levels by 321 percent according to recent research. Not all green tea is the same, though. Here is what you must know.
Importance of Boosting HGH Levels Naturally
Normally you make HGH and release it from your pituituary gland. Unfortunately, this process slows down for a variety of reasons – aging, obesity, poor fitness, synthetic drugs, etc. – although you can reverse this trend without resorting to HGH injections or other prescription medical treatments. A whole field of supplementation has sprung up for this purpose, around products that are called growth hormone secretagogues.
These secretagogue products are supposed to simply induce your pituitary gland to secrete more HGH. Ideally, when you can secrete enough HGH to simulate youthful growth hormone levels, then youthful health will return. Lean body mass increases, body fat percent decreases, cardiovascular health gets better, and sleep, sex, attitude, and a whole host of other benefits will accrue to you.
I have found that the key ingredients in most secretagogue products are the same, although many supplement formulas include additional ingredients that serve more to drive up prices rather than to provide any real benefit to you. For that reason I have posted a couple of articles on what to look for and how to use the best supplements for boosting HGH levels naturally.
These posts are:
These ingredients are still the best ones for including in any secretagogue formula, based on the research that I have found in the scientific literature.
The Green Tea Surprise
Green tea is widely purported to be beneficial for weight loss, and thousands of websites offer green tea products for this purpose. The scientific basis for such claims is solid, although you have to be wary of what different products offer regarding actual clinical research results.
This is such an important herb for weight management, and particularly for reducing body fat and increasing lean body mass, that I have made it a favorite topic on my Body Fat Loss Blog. Here is one of the posts that I have written about it:
The key to watch for when looking for any kind of product is how well it matches up with dosages that have been used in clinical research. My advice is that you use standardized extracts that list the content of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is the main active ingredient for enhancing metabolism. This means that you can forget about all fresh herbs or leaf powders, because you can never know how much you actually absorb from such whole plant products.
I’ve got the urge to say a lot more about the chemistry of EGCG at this point, since it is included in a class of molecules that I have studied in my laboratory for more than 35 years. For a chemist like me, this is very exciting stuff. I even like to draw the structures of these kinds of things, just to bring back memories of my teaching days. For your sake, however, I’ll stop the hardcore chemistry here and just include a picture of the structure of EGCG that I drew for you. Thanks for your patience. I feel much better now.
Almost all of the research on green tea and metabolism focuses on EGCG. Be clear on this: caffeine is not the active ingredient. In fact, much of the research on green tea extracts entails the use of decaffeinated mixtures whose content of EGCG and other catechins has been concentrated and standardized.
Boosting HGH and Other Benefits of EGCG
The main research that I want to call to your attention was published in the following journal:
Di Pierro, F., Menghi A.B., Barreca, A., Lucarelli, M, and Calandrelli, A. 2009. Greenselect Phytosome as an adjunct to a low-calorie diet for treatment of obesity: a clinical trial. Alternative Medicine Review 14(2):154-160.
What I like to do is include the entire abstract so I can comment on it without having to rewrite what is already available to you in the scientific literature.
ABSTRACT: A recently developed oral formulation in the form of coated tablets (Monoselect Camellia) (MonCam) containing highly bioavailable green tea extract (GreenSelect Phytosome) was tested in obese subjects (n=100) of both genders on a hypocaloric diet. Fifty subjects were assigned to the green tea extract plus hypocaloric diet, while the other 50 subjects followed the hypocaloric diet only. After 90 days of treatment, significant weight loss and decreased body mass index (BMI) were observed in the group taking the herbal extract (14-kg loss in the green tea group compared to a 5-kg loss in the diet-only group); waistline was reduced only in male subjects. Besides the effect on weight and BMI, biochemical parameters (LDL-, HDL-, and total cholesterol, triglycerides, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin, and cortisol) were improved in both groups. Leptin, not tested in the diet-only group, was reduced in patients taking MonCam. Taking into consideration the high safety profile of the product and the total absence of adverse effects observed during and after the trial, MonCam appears to be a safe and effective tool for weight loss.
By the way, if you want to see the complete article, it is available for free through PubMed, here:
In fact, I recommend that you take a look at the complete article to see the depth of detail that is missing from the abstract. The main result relates to the purpose of the study, which was to determine the effects of a certain green tea extract on obesity. Specifically, it compared a hypocaloric (reduced-calorie) diet with and without this supplement. Daily calories were reduced to 1,850 for men and 1,350 for women. The product, as mentioned in the abstract, goes by the name of MonCam (for Monoselect Camellia), which is derived from a patented combination of green tea extract in a bioavailability-enhanced formulation called Greenselect Phytosome.
The basic results regarding weight change were that the MonCam group dropped 14 kg (ca. 30 lbs) and the non-MonCam group dropped 5 kg (ca. 11 lbs) by the end of the 90-day study. This is pretty good for weight loss all by itself. However, the researchers measured all kinds of biochemical and physical parameters in addition to weight loss. The overall changes are stated in the abstract above. Details that are relevant to this post are included in the complete article in Tables 4 and 5, which I have duplicated here:
Table 4. Plasma LDL, HDL, GH Percentage
between Baseline and Day 90
|LDL (%)||HDL (%)||GH (%)|
Table 5. Percentage Differences between Baseline and
Day 90 for Plasma IGF-1, Insulin, and Cortisol
|IGF-1 (%)||Insulin (%)||Cortisol (%)|
The really cool result is that HGH increased by 321 percent over the starting point. Note that even the control group showed a 20 percent increase, which just goes to show you how important weight management is for hormone balance and overall health.
I included the results for LDL and HDL just because those were in the original table. Table 5 may be even more interesting, though, because of the result with IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). The reason that I say this is that HGH is a hormone that spikes several times throughout a 24-hour period, whereas IGF-1 is steadier over time. IGF-1 indicates how effective HGH over an entire day. This hormone is, therefore, a better indicator of effective growth hormone levels. The seemingly spectacular 321 percent increase in HGH may mean very little. However, the 24 percent increase in IGF-1 (as opposed to just under 15 percent in the non-MonCam group) is truly something to get excited about.
Can Green Tea or EGCG Be a Secretagogue?
No, not in the same sense as L-arginine or other amino acids. These ingredients influence a spike in HGH within 1-2 hours when taken on an empty stomach before going to bed at night or before a hard weight-lifting workout. The results with EGCG came very slowly, at the end of 90 days, and require daily intake of the supplement.
Care in Selecting the Right Supplement
Note that the results of the above study were based on the GreenSelect Phytosome formulation. The company that owns the patent on this product, and licenses it out to supplement manufacturers, has shown in earlier work that it is much more bioavailable than ordinary green tea extracts. Does that mean that you won’t get the same results with a non-GreenSelect product? The answer to that is unknown. It is likely that you, indeed, could simulate the above results by taking a higher dose of the ‘brand X’ type supplements. That is just a guess on my part.
Note that the Alternative Medicine Review is a journal that is published by Thorne Research, which is also a supplement manufacturer. It is one of the best, in my experience. They publish research that may help in the development of new supplements, which is exactly the case with GreenSelect Phytosome. Thorne Research offers such a product the name of Green Tea Phytosome. This is the product that I use. You can search for it on the internet or look for it in a local nutrition store, although technically Thorne Research only supplies their products to health professionals.
Other manufacturers will undoubtedly be licensing the GreenSelect Phytosome patent for making their own brands of this product. Natural Factors already does, and this brand is more widely available for retail sale in nutrition stores that are the Thorne Research products. Regardless of which brand you choose, just be sure that it states very clearly on the label that it contains GreenSelect Phytosome in the amounts that follow the clinical study above.
One more thing is to be patient with your expectations with this extract. The results that appeared in the study that I’ve been talking about here were found at the end of a 90-day study. In fact, at 45 days the results were very small. My point is, just don’t expect instant success with this stuff.
With another HGH update,