HGH Vs. HCG

by Barrett Barlowe

Trying to figure out the difference between HGH and HCG can make you feel slightly dyslexic. HGH and HCG are both hormones. Hormones are substances produced by glands that trigger specific actions in the body. HGH stands for human growth hormone. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin.

1. Functions

The pituitary gland manufactures HGH. Human growth hormone helps stimulate and regulate growth and muscle development. Without HGH, adolescents would not reach adult height and would not develop adequate muscle and bone mass to support that height. HCG appears in early pregnancy. Human chorionic gonadatropin plays an essential role in sustaining an early pregnancy. Cells within the developing tissues secrete HCG. HCG is a middleman--triggering other hormones that thicken and prepare the uterine walls to support implantation of the fertilized egg. Its presence prevents the built-up walls of the uterus from sloughing off and ending a pregnancy's viability. HCG is the hormone detected in home pregnancy tests.

2. Discovery and History

In the 1940s, biologist Herbert Evans and scientist Choh Hao Li isolated growth hormone in cattle. Li and others such as endocrinologist Harold Papkoff unraveled the genetic coding of human growth hormone, leading to the first production of synthetic HGH used in treating various conditions. Early indicators of pregnancy eluded scientists until the 20th century. Specialists in endocrinology identified HCG as a pregnancy indicator. They figured out that placental tissues associated with early pregnancy manufactured the hormone.

3. Normal Amounts

HGH levels peak sometime around early adolescence. Sleep, exercise and low sugar levels can cause the brain to send signals to the pituitary gland to release more HGH into the blood stream. Conversely, sleep deprivation, high blood sugar levels and obesity results in a reduction of HGH production. Human growth hormone production falls off in middle age. HCG appears in early pregnancy--as early as a few days before a missed period. Levels increase rapidly, peaking at around 10 to 12 weeks, and decline slowly after that.

4. Conditions

Too little HGH in childhood results in inadequate growth. Children who produce too much growth hormone can become extremely tall. Adults who continue to produce large amounts of human growth hormone can develop acromegaly, a condition in which the bones of the face hands and feet thicken, according to the Merck Manual. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes or elsewhere outside the uterus and starts to develop there. HCG levels failing to rise in early pregnancy can indicate an ectopic pregnancy. High HCG levels in women can occur after a non-viable pregnancy stays inside the uterus, continuing to divide and enlarge. The growth, sometimes referred to as a molar pregnancy, needs to be removed by a doctor, according to the Merck Manual. Doctors also use HCG to treat male and female infertility.

5. Other Uses & Risks

Researchers still do not know all the effects human growth hormone has on growing and mature humans. People with clinically demonstrated insufficient levels of HGH benefit from HGH supplements and show improved muscle tone, exercise tolerance and lower body fat levels. Providing HGH to normal adults can cause joint pain and swelling and might increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Steroid-using athletes sometimes also abuse HCG, as it lessens the side effects of steroids. HCG appears as a diet drug on many websites. HCG is not a weight loss drug. It is a hormone, which along with estrogen and progesterone, occur naturally in women's bodies at certain times of their lives. Hormone imbalance can cause headaches, mood swings and other health risks.

Photo Credits

  • pocket hercules 10 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com