However, even if bursts of hGH follow the application of rhGH or amino acid and peptide-releasers, normal physiology (auto-regulation) extends a period of absolute and then relative refractoriness to the release of additional hGH, making the daily production rate less than one would expect from the additive effect of the supplement.

To me, this suggests that larger, superphysiologic amounts are required to even be considered as effective rather than replacement doses given to those who are hGH deficient with the (un?)intended consequence of ramping up the expense.

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Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, has stated:

“Given the current regulatory framework of the supplement industry, and the amount of products being marketed and sold online, it is difficult if not impossible to know what exactly is contained in these products teens are consuming. So the implication for parents, health care professionals, policymakers and regulators is that this is an area of apparently growing interest, involvement and potential danger to teens that calls for serious evaluation of the areas in which current controls on manufacturing and marketing are failing to prevent the use of these products by teens.”

What is the outcome?

From my point of view, these supplements are neither effective for the purpose stated nor harmful. They make one’s urine expensive, given that many amino acids are water soluble and will be excreted naturally and quickly preventing potentially toxic accumulation.

The bottom line is that prevention is the best medicine, even if the numbers are wildly inflated because of the survey’s methodology. The same is true for anabolic androgenic steroids. The incidence is also often inflated because of at least two additional factors, the first of which is discussed above in regards to what students think they are taking vs. what they are actually taking. Second, a small but real percentage of students take glucorticoids, which may also be called “steroids,” for asthma or rheumatic diseases and the survey cannot account for confusion over the term.

The point here is that a simple question of how the drug is administered would remove the use of supplements, which I suspect is likely much higher than use of rhGH, from the equation.

Travis T. Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stated:

“The results of this study further demonstrate the importance of educating young people, their parents and coaches on the risks associated with the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the need to protect young people from those who would prey on them as easy marketing targets.”

I can only add caveat emptor.


  1. Feliz J. National Study: Teens Report Higher Use of Performance Enhancing Substances. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. July 22, 2014. Accessed July 29, 2014.

Alan D. Rogol, MD, PhD, is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.