First of all, let’s start with an understanding of what is growth hormone secretion and why HGH plays a vital role in your health. What stimulates HGH secretion and how it releases.
What is a growth hormone secretion?
The human growth hormone, also known as somatotropin, or HGH, is a peptide hormone that fuels the growth of cells, encourages cell regeneration, and cell reproduction in us humans and other animals. This makes it a fundamental factor in human development. HGH is made up of 191 different amino acids, the building blocks for life. Together, these amino acids from one single long strand polypeptide. The human growth hormone is synthesized within the somatotropic cells, which are located in the anterior pituitary gland; The somatotropic cells is also where the storage and releasing of HGH takes place.
Two other hormones called somatocrinin (the growth-hormone-releasing hormone) and somatostatin (the growth-hormone inhibiting hormone) control HGH secretion. These two hormones are both released by the neurosecretory nuclei of the hypothalamus. They then are released into the hypophyseal portal venous blood that surrounds the pituitary gland. This allows them to control HGH secretion, which, itself, is released by the pituitary gland.
Our HGH levels are important for many reasons. It is known as the ‘vitality hormone’. In children, it supports the healthy growth of their brains and bodies. As we grow older, HGH helps us to maintain youth and vitality and grow muscle mass, thanks to its regenerative functions.
There are certain things that can either stimulate or inhibit HGH secretion.
– The growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) binds to a growth hormone-releasing receptor (GHRHR) to stimulate HGH secretion
– Ghrelin can bind to the growth hormone secretagogue receptors (GHSR) to stimulate growth hormone release
– Sex hormones androgens and estrogen stimulate the secretion of the human growth hormone during puberty
– Low blood sugar, fasting, and exercise can also bring about HGH secretion
– Somatostatin that is released from the periventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus inhibits HGH secretion
– Any negative feedback provided on the hypothalamus or pituitary, determined by the blood levels of HGH and insulin, such as growth factor 1.
HGH secretion occurs daily in a pulsing-like manner. Its release elevates intermittently throughout the day, every three to five hours. Its highest peak level of secretion tends to happen about an hour after falling asleep.
How sauna affects HGH secretion?
As mentioned, vigorous exercise is one thing that both biochemists and physiologists say you can do to boost growth hormone levels in the body. Another method that is not heard of by most people is sitting in the sauna, as a sauna increases HGH levels almost the same way as exercise can.
The original study conducted on the link between a sauna session and higher levels of growth hormone was done in 1976 by a team of Finnish scientists. They looked at 55 individuals and recorded their growth hormone levels before and after their sauna session. Directly after they got out of the sauna, their levels were 140% higher than before they entered the sauna.
These levels did return back to normal after about an hour for most of the participants in the study, but even a temporary spike in HGH can be beneficial to your health.
There have been numerous other studies conducted over the last 30 years, using varied demographics and experimental procedures, that have also concluded similar rises in HGH circulation immediately after sauna sittings.
Because of the fact that HGH levels often decline around age 50, a study in 1987 did find that sauna treatments did not affect men aged 49-66 who went into a sauna under the same exact conditions that produced high elevations in 31-46-year-old males.
Also, many studies have found that the body will adapt and become used to the high temperatures of a sauna if you sit in one every day, also known as ‘hyperthermic conditioning’. This means that the effect it has on HGH levels will reduce to almost nothing after three continuous days of sauna treatments. Studies that were done every second day showed the greatest increases in HGH levels continuously.
The majority of studies revealed that 30-minute sauna sessions were the most successful at raising circulating HGH levels. A 2007 study implemented both 30 continuous minutes of participants being in the sauna and 45 minutes, with a break in the middle, of participants sitting in the sauna. The first group (30 continuous minutes) showed significantly higher HGH levels than the latter.
The average temperature for most of these studies was around 80 degrees Celsius (176 F) and a humidity of about 5-20%. To date, there has been no study for the correlation between sauna temperature, session duration, and the degree of HGH circulation increase.
Since your body repairs itself the most 30-60 minutes following a workout, if you can get into a sauna around this time frame post-workout, you can possibly elevate your HGH levels even further, resulting in more muscle gain and less soreness.
The main reason the sauna increases HGH (when done correctly), in particular to the muscular tissue, is the fact that it puts the body into a high-heat related stress mode. This triggers the body to produce HGH and flood the bloodstream with the growth hormone to your tissues.
Other benefits for health from a sauna
The hyperthermic conditioning associated with regular (weekly) sauna use is the process by which your body gradually acclimates to the heat-stress. This causes it to adapt and perform better in a wide range of stress-inducing physical processes. In regards to physical training benefits, saunas have been found to increase the plasma volume and blood flow to the heart and muscles, which increases endurance and muscle mass gain thanks to the higher levels of heat-shock proteins and human growth hormone.
Also, you can get additional health benefits that come from sauna use:
– Improved cardiovascular mechanisms and lower heart rate
– Lower core body temperature during a workout
– Higher sweat rate & sweat sensitivity due to increased thermoregulatory control
– Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle, known as muscle perfusion, and other tissues
– Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved muscle perfusion
– Increased red blood cell count
– Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to the muscles
– May help to trigger increased insulin sensitivity
– Promotes faster muscle recovery
– Improved brain function, as a result of saunas causing nerve cells to release BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which forces brain cells to create new neurons
In the video below, Dr. Rhonda Patrick describes how a sauna affects your body and what benefits it could give.
More effective methods to increase HGH secretion
There are other effective methods to increase the secretion of growth hormone, serving as useful methods of HGH therapy. Here are they are:
- Proper Sleep
The majority of human growth hormone is produced during deep sleep. The quality and duration of sleep have been found by researchers to be paramount in getting healthy levels of HGH. The suggested number of hours of sleep to get is 7-9 hours of restful sleep for enhanced hormone secretion. Nighttime sleep is the best time for this as darkness promotes melatonin secretion.
- Avoid eating before bedtime
Avoiding heavy meals 2 to 3 hours prior to bedtime is advisable for a number of health reasons. One of these reasons involves an impaired insulin response, which results in difficulty for the body to secrete HGH.
- Intermittent Fasting
Fasting intermittently, along with its many other health benefits, aids in blood sugar regulation. As previously mentioned, higher insulin levels in the serum lead to decreased levels of serum production in the human growth hormone. Therefore, the balancing of blood sugar that comes from fasting (12 to 18 hours a day, three times a week is the suggested practice) will increase HGH production.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Researchers encourage people to eat a diet with a low glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugary beverages and snacks can greatly reduce the quantity of HGH produced.
- Cleanse Your Liver
The liver is where most of the detoxification of your body occurs. Without a healthy liver, human growth hormone functions cannot be performed sufficiently. Cleansing your liver can be done with ease. Simply limit or altogether discontinue your intake of processed foods and artificial sugars, which are toxic, and eliminate your use of alcohol and exogenous drugs.
As effective as the sauna has been found for boosting growth hormone, this and any other form of HGH therapy should only be utilized under consent/prescription from a doctor. Also, it is very important to always have water on hand when entering a sauna and drinking some beforehand for adequate hydration. The recommended amount of water intake before going into a sauna is 8 fl. oz.