Generally speaking, whenever performance-enhancing drugs seem to surface in the news, people tend to conflate steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) as if the two are one and the same. Any substance that enhances performance is classified as an ergogenic aid, but steroids and HGH are different categories that come under the sports enhancement umbrella.
But performance enhancement is the only thing HGH is used for. Synthetic HGH is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Authority (FDA) for specific medical uses in children and adults that are related to poor growth.
With all that in mind, we felt like it was necessary to explain the very real differences between HGH and steroids. So, let’s dive right into it.
What are Steroids?
Two types of steroids are used in medicine therapeutically—anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. Anabolic steroids are, as discussed above, part of a class of drugs called ergogenic aids. They are synthesized to resemble male hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. They promote protein synthesis and hence, enhance the production of lean muscle and improve physical ability, strength, and stamina.
Corticosteroids, on the other hand, are highly effective drugs used in the treatment of inflammation and swelling. They are chemically similar and related to the hormone cortisol that is naturally produced by the human body.
What is HGH?
Human growth hormone (HGH) is an anabolic hormone secreted by the body’s anterior pituitary gland and used to build and repair different types of tissue, including muscle tissue and collagen.
HGH is responsible for promoting the release of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which, in turn, is responsible for promoting anabolic effects in the body. HGH also facilitates the body’s response to exercise, but it’s effects are far from being restricted to protein alone. The combination of HGH’s periodic release and its positive anabolic and metabolic effects has led to HGH supplementation to improve exercise performance.
HGH injections are used medically for poor growth resulting from a variety of medical causes, including:
- Children born small for their gestational stage
- HGH deficiency
- Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS)
- Turner’s syndrome
- Muscle-wasting disease due to AIDS/HIV
- Short bowel syndrome