Growth hormone (HGH) boosters are popular dietary supplements because of their exaggerated claims and promises for quick weight loss.
Yet, one product went further than the rest and professed that their product could boost natural HGH production up to 682%.
It bears the name Growth Factor-9 or GF-9, and according to one small industry-funded study, it supposedly “showed results” on healthy individuals.
The reality is that the product contains few amino acids, which may or may not cause small transient spikes of HGH synthesis in healthy individuals.
What is more, such products are entirely ineffective in people with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) since the pituitary gland in these patients can no longer produce adequate amounts of HGH.
Unfortunately, the aggressive marketing of GF-9 and similar supplements often deceive customers by promising quick results without any risks and cherry-picking biased studies which are funded or even conducted by the manufacturers.
In contrast, actual HGH treatment has undergone rigorous scientific testing by independent researchers, and its effectiveness has been replicated in multiple trials.
What is GF-9 according to the manufacturer?
According to the marketing claims by the manufacturer, GF-9 should work by stimulating the natural HGH synthesis through one serving taken orally every day.
The product does not contain actual growth hormone and is classified as a dietary supplement, which means it is not FDA-approved or monitored for effectiveness, safety, and quality by official regulatory bodies.
Since HGH is an anabolic hormone that also stimulates fat metabolism, the product promises benefits that are usually associated with taking prescription medication such as HGH injections. The claims include:
- increased lean muscle mass
- quicker recovery
- more energy
- increased sex drive
- strengthened bones and joints
- improved sleep
- better mood
In reality, the scientific evidence supports such effects only when genuine HGH therapy is given via injections to patients with a growth hormone deficiency, and the benefits occur due to the management of the condition’s symptoms.
The only evidence, that the manufacturer Novex Biotech provides, is a study in healthy individuals funded by Sierra Research Group that tested another product called SeroVital, which has the same ingredients according to the label. SeroVital is also a questionable supplement, and its effectiveness has been the subject of several lawsuits.
The study itself does not report any of the benefits listed as part of the marketing of both products. According to the researchers, the only effect is a transient 8-fold increase in GH levels of 16 participants.
Even if the product was as effective in increasing growth hormone levels in healthy people as HGH injections, there is no reason to believe it would lead to the listed effects.
That’s because most studies do not report any dramatic benefits of large doses of HGH therapy given to healthy individuals without GHD. Instead, they warn of possible side effects such as water retention and insulin resistance.
Our scientific review of GF-9
The only scientific evidence that supports any effectiveness of GF-9 is the study that showed a 682% increase in growth hormone levels in 16 men and women after taking the identical product – SeroVital.
Yet, the legitimacy of the study is undermined by several facts.
First of all, the results of the survey have never been replicated. All other studies investigating the effects of the amino acids contained in SeroVital and GF-9 have yielded different results ranging from a slight increase in GH levels to an actual decrease in growth hormone synthesis.
Furthermore, there are several problems with the study’s design, which increase the risk of bias. For example, the study is statistically underpowered due to the small sample size – only 16 participants.
On top of that, all the participants are healthy individuals in a fasted state. This is often a sufficient prerequisite for experiencing natural spikes in GH levels which can be even higher than the average 1.33 ng/ml measured in the study. That’s because growth hormone has a pulsatile secretion, which can reach up to 10 ng/ml.
The researchers also monitor the changes in GH levels only up to 2 hours after taking either the product or placebo. This way they avoid submitting data on the rapid drop in serum growth hormone, which normally occurs after a spike.
Growth hormone levels drop quickly due to the short half-life of natural HGH which is just 10-20 minutes. Therefore, amino acids can’t induce a peak in GH levels that lasts longer than a couple of hours.
The study’s credibility is further undermined by the fact that the SeroVital was developed by Sierra Research Group – the same company that funded the trial. Yet, the researchers only list the fact that Sanmedica International distributes it.
What is more, the director of Sierra Research Group (the study funder) and Novex Biotech (GF-9 manufacturer and distributor) is the same person – Amy L. Heaton, who is also one of the scientists performing and publishing the study.
She is also the patent inventor of the product, together with Mitchell K. Friedlander, who is associated with “Basic Research” – another company distributing the GF-9 and SeroVital. Besides, all 4 companies – Novex Biotech, Sierra Research Group, Basic Research, and Sanmedica International coincidentally reside in Salt Lake City, Utah and have the same customer service number.
These facts mean that there is an extremely high risk of bias because the study is not conducted by independent scientists but by the product’s manufacturer, who can freely manipulate any results.
Facts and science behind the GF-9
GF-9 contains several amino acids and one plant extract. The manufacturer has specified 2.9g as the total amount of a single dose, but not precisely how much of each active ingredient is in the formulation.
That’s because the manufacturer uses a proprietary blend, which allows them to include smaller amounts of the more expensive ingredients without disclosing it to the customers. The ingredients in the proprietary blend include:
- fermented L-cysteine
- Schizonepeta Powder
L-arginine may effectively induce small peaks in HGH synthesis when taken as an intravenous infusion. Yet, oral administration of L-arginine shows mixed results.
Most studies do not report any increase in GH levels, while some trials combining L-arginine with L-ornithine (which is not present in GF-9) report a 35.7% increase in growth hormone. Yet, the benefit is temporary and does not affect mean daily HGH levels.
Furthermore, the group received 3g of arginine, which is more than the whole blend of GF-9.
L-lysine has been tested in combination with L-arginine, and the majority of trials report no effects on the natural HGH synthesis in men and women.
In one study, oral L-glutamine increased growth hormone synthesis by 19%, 30 minutes after administration, and the effects quickly dissipated within the first hour. No other studies have shown any results.
For glutamine to produce these effects, the participants were given 2g of glutamine.
No studies show that Oxo-proline, Fermented L-cysteine, or Schizonepeta extracts have any effects on growth hormone synthesis. What is more, it is unlikely that the supplement contains any decent amounts of these ingredients in a 2.9 mg blend.
As seen in the research, no independent studies have shown such a dramatic increase in natural GH production as the industry-funded trial cited by GF-9 and SeroVital manufacturers.
Is GF-9 supplement actually safe and effective?
The safety of GF-9 is unclear since the product is not a subject of control by any regulatory institutions, it is not 3rd party tested, and it doesn’t disclose the exact doses of each ingredient in its proprietary blend.
While all the amino acids stated on the label are safe and a natural part of the human diet, medical resources warn that the Schizonepeta may damage the liver in certain doses.
No studies have evaluated the safety of GF-9 or SeroVital after long-term supplementation. The manufacturer has not included any information on possible side effects either.
On the contrary, the manufacturer attempts to present GF-9 as a premium product worth $100 per month. This price is considerably more than other amino-acid supplements with similar or almost identical ingredients.
How can HGH be balanced naturally?
Nutrition and lifestyle changes can indeed influence the natural HGH levels in healthy individuals, but the improvements are relatively minor and occur slowly over time. Your growth hormone secretion is influenced by:
- body weight
- physical activity
Avoiding alcohol in your diet is one of the most effective nutritional interventions that can help improve your natural HGH production. That’s because alcohol is shown to acutely suppress growth hormone synthesis, and chronic alcohol consumption may hamper your GH levels in the long term.
Fasting is a popular method for boosting growth hormone production since studies show that 24 hours of avoiding food leads to a 2-fold increase in growth hormone levels. Yet, keep in mind that prolonged fasts may be dangerous for your health, and they are not recommended for people with chronic conditions.
On top of that, fasting increases HGH levels but lowers IGF-1 levels, which is the primary mediator of the anabolic effects of growth hormone.
Adipose tissue has many endocrine functions, and having too much of it can lead to hormonal imbalance. That’s why obese individuals often have suppressed natural HGH production. Studies show that losing extra fat and achieving optimal body weight can also increase and restore these individuals’ natural growth hormone production.
Physical activity may lead to a 4-6 fold increase in your serum HGH levels. However, keep in mind that the increase occurs only for the exercise session duration.
What is more, the increase is more significant during activities with higher intensity, such as weight lifting and resistance training.
Note: None of these lifestyle tips will work if you have growth hormone deficiency
Having the condition means that your pituitary gland cannot produce sufficient GH levels even under any stimulus.
Our experienced endocrinologists can offer you an accurate diagnosis, prescription, and appropriate treatment to manage your complaints. On top of that, our medical doctors will closely monitor your therapy to ensure its safety and effectiveness along the way.