Synthetic growth hormone or somatotropin is considered the primary available method of increasing height.
In medicine, it is used for two reasons:
- To compensate for a deficiency in natural growth hormone. If there is insufficient growth hormone in the body for some reason.
- To increase cell sensitivity to growth hormone. It is believed that if more growth hormone is added, sensitivity will improve.
By addressing the deficiency and increasing sensitivity, growth should begin.
GH acts on the growth plate to stimulate new bone formation both through circulating IGF-I and also locally, in part through local IGF-I production.1
When we talk about poor height without an established reason, we are referring to idiopathic short stature. For example, a person is healthy, growth hormone levels are normal, but height does not fit within the normal range for their age or is below average.
To help in such cases, a course of somatotropin at a dose of 0.05 mg/kg/day is allowed. The greatest result will be achieved between the ages of 5 and 11. Treatment throughout this period can add approximately 7 cm to final height, which is about 1 additional centimeter each year.2
To increase sensitivity, a dose of 0.033 mg/kg/day is used. The increase over the same period will be 4 cm.
Doses above 0.07 mg/kg/day are not recommended without significant reasons, as they lead to accelerated closure of growth plates.
Is it worth using for those who are older?
It greatly depends on the remaining growth plates.
If you are absolutely certain that you no longer have any cartilaginous growth plate zones, stimulating growth hormone will not help you grow taller.
Studies show that effectiveness decreases with the onset of puberty. For example, after reaching a bone age older than 14 years in girls and 16 years in boys, growth is usually 98% complete3. Then the likely result would be only a few extra centimeters.
Another strategy is not to use growth hormone at this stage and focus on prolonging the life of growth plates with sex hormones. Natural growth hormone can stimulate growth for a longer period. This seems to be easier, cheaper, and also effective.
Seek medical consultation to maximize the benefits of hormones and avoid side effects.
Baron, J., Sävendahl, L., De Luca, F., Dauber, A., Phillip, M., Wit, J. M., & Nilsson, O. (2015). Short and tall stature: a new paradigm emerges. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 11(12), 735–746. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2015.165 ↩
Hintz, R. L., Attie, K. M., Baptista, J., & Roche, A. (1999). Effect of growth hormone treatment on adult height of children with idiopathic short stature. Genentech Collaborative Group. The New England journal of medicine, 340(7), 502–507. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM199902183400702 ↩