There are many different approaches for trying to improve your health, weight and wellbeing, including lifestyle changes and specific products like supplements or teas.
One approach that is becoming increasingly popular is the use of human growth hormone (HGH). Doing so is supposed to provide a way to look and feel younger, while potentially offering health benefits as well.
There are multiple products that take advantage of this concept but the one that this post focuses on is GenF20 Plus. To do so, I will take a look at the science behind GenF20, along with the specific ingredients and GenF20 reviews.
What is GenF20 Plus?
GenF20 Plus is promoted as the ‘#1 Rated HGH Releaser’ and comes in two forms: tablets and a spray.
Regardless of the type, GenF20 Plus is marketed as a way to fight the process of aging, along with helping people to look and feel younger.
Many people do hate the effects that come with aging, so there is a strong emphasis on fighting this whenever possible.
The two GenF20 Plus products are designed to complement one another and are both designed to promote human growth hormone within the body. As such, they don’t provide the hormone directly and instead offer a combination of different components that are supposed to help with this outcome.
Health Benefits of Human Growth Hormone
If we’re going to take a look at GenF20 Plus reviews and effectiveness, then human growth hormone (HGH) is one of the most important areas. After all, releasing HGH is the key idea behind this supplement.
To begin with, HGH is an important compound. As the name suggests, it plays a large role in the growth of the body and it is also related to the regulation of body composition, the growth of bone and muscle, along with the metabolism of sugar and fat (1).
Synthetic versions of HGH have various medical uses, particularly for people who are low in HGH due to a health condition or who have issues with physical growth. In these roles, HGH is FDA-approved and is generally viewed as safe.
As a person ages, the levels of HGH naturally decrease.
This pattern has led to the idea that artificially increasing HGH could boost health and fight some of the issues associated with aging. GenF20 Plus is one product that attempts to provide just that.
Human growth hormone is significant in the body and decreases as a person ages
The Use of Human Growth Hormone
Now, HGH is often used as a way to improve muscle growth and body composition overall, particularly among bodybuilders. In this setting, HGH injections are typically used and injections are also the technique for patients who need HGH for treatment.
But, aside from clinical uses, HGH injections are illegal (2). In contrast, products like GenF20 Plus don’t use injections.
For that matter, GenF20 Plus doesn’t actually provide HGH directly. Instead, the products are designed to boost HGH production. This lets people get around the cost of legal HGH injections and could also reduce the potential for side effects.
In theory, GenF20 Plus could offer benefits to health, especially if it is effective at increasing HGH. However, the area is still one of considerable debate.
Human growth hormone is used directly in the form of injections, particularly to treat some conditions. However, GenF20 Plus focuses on promoting the production of this hormone instead
Does it Work?
There is certainly some evidence that HGH offers benefits. For one thing, HGH is popular among bodybuilders as it can make it easier to increase muscle mass (3).
There are potential health benefits associated with this aspect alone, especially as there is a connection between muscles and longevity. Furthermore, many people do have an unhealthy body composition where they may have too much fat compared to lean muscle, even if they are considered skinny by society’s standards.
This type of composition can have negative implications for health and can increase the risk of the development of diabetes and heart disease (4,5,6).
Likewise, one key study into HGH looked at the use of HGH injections for 6 months in older men. That study found some outcomes, including increases in skin thickness and reductions in body fat levels (7).
Yet, that study was conducted in 1991 and its age doesn’t make it particularly strong evidence for health benefits from HGH.
Furthermore, the study also found a significant number of side effects among patients, including joint pain and swelling in lower legs and ankles.
At the same time, even though there were some positive outcomes for body composition, the authors didn’t find any improvement in terms of actual function (8).
Other studies have also found some health benefits from HGH, including increases in muscle strength (9), improved healing of fractures (10,11), increased bone strength (12) and better weight loss (13,14).
Nevertheless, there is relatively little evidence supporting each of these benefits. Additionally, they may only be relevant in specific populations or situations.
For that matter, many of the benefits of HGH are likely to apply to people who are deficient in the hormone, rather than the general population (15).
That pattern is fairly common. For example, a similar outcome is present for vitamin D, where supplements are most beneficial for people with a vitamin D deficiency.
There is significant evidence for benefits from human growth hormone. However, these are mostly connected to specific situations and mainly relevant to people who are deficient
The Logic Behind Human Growth Hormone
Fighting aging is a common goal, especially as there are so many negative outcomes that occur as we age. Because of this, there are many products (like GenF20 Plus) that attempt to reduce aging by targeting natural mechanisms in the body.
For example, HGH products try to increase levels of HGH because this naturally decreases as we age.
But, that type of approach is unlikely to be particularly effective.
For one thing, biological aging is a complex phenomenon. Historically, this area was considered an unsolved or even an unsolvable problem (16).
Over time, much more has been learned about aging, including the way that aging involves changes in molecules within the body (17) and at the cellular level (18). Nevertheless, research still has a long way to go and there is much that we don’t know.
Indeed, the complex nature of the human body and its interrelated systems means that we may never fully understand everything there is to know about aging.
Researchers also argue that the very concept of anti-aging is unrealistic and that individual products are unlikely to have significant effects on aging (19).
Furthermore, if it were possible to decrease the impacts of aging, then doing so would involve much more research into the field (20).
With this in mind, the idea of targeting a single natural hormone is simplistic at best and is unlikely to be particularly effective.
For that matter, a decrease in HGH (or any other hormone) isn’t necessarily evidence of a problem anyway. There are many reasons why the body could decrease hormone levels beyond aging.
Aging is a complex process and trying to decrease its effects by supplementing is an incredibly simplistic idea
Does GenF20 Plus Work?
To begin with, the company behind GenF20 Plus highlights one relatively recent study (2012) into health benefits. This study specifically looked at GenF20 Plus and is linked on the GenF20 Plus site.
Now, the first thing to note is that the study is not peer-reviewed, which means that it may not have the same quality as other research. Additionally, the peer review process is important for reducing biased and misleading results.
So, any study that isn’t peer reviewed should be read with caution. Oddly, this particular research took place in India and it isn’t clear why that was the case. This also suggests some caution in reading it.
Realistically, the results would have been stronger if the study was conducted in the United States, especially as GenF20 Plus is marketed to that audience.
Nevertheless, it is nice to see even one study directly on the product itself. In many cases, companies offer little to no scientific evidence about their products and instead just rely on research into the various ingredients.
The study itself took place over a 12-week period with 70 participants, aged 35 to 64 years of age. Of those, 61 completed the study. Participants were randomly given either GenF20 Plus (spray and capsules) or a placebo twice daily for the 12 weeks.
There were both positive and negative outcomes of the study.
In particular, participants taking GenF20 Plus did see improvements in IGF-1 serum levels. Essentially, this means that GenF20 Plus was successful at increasing levels of human growth hormone.
But, there was no significant change in:
- Waist Circumference
- Body Fat
- Lean Body Mass
Interestingly, there were improvements in the following quality of life areas.
- Energy levels
However, these changes were present for both the treatment and the placebo group. As such, they are likely to be the result of the experimental procedure or the placebo effect, rather than because of GenF20 Plus.
Basically, these outcomes suggest that GenF20 Plus increased HGH but didn’t have any practical effects on health.
Now, the authors argued that the lack of observed benefits may simply be to do with the length of the study – and that could be true.
Nevertheless, this study is used as key evidence of the effectiveness of GenF20 Plus, yet it basically shows that the supplement does very little.
The company cites one study that promotes the effects of GenF20Plus. While this does show some benefit on human growth hormone, the study fails to show any practical supplement benefits
The site for GenF20 Plus has no shortage of hype for GenF20 and offers various examples of proof for the health benefits.
Yet, most of this information isn’t typically considered evidence at all. For example, a key area is GenF20 Plus reviews from doctors.
It’s hard to know whether these reviews are from actual doctors or not but, to be honest, it really doesn’t matter.
Doctors do have a considerable amount of training but they can still be biased by their own perspectives and even flat out wrong. After all, doctor testimonials used to be common in cigarette advertising as well.
This is also why sites like CBS consider 'Doctor Recommended' to be a meaningless claim.
Additionally, much of the information provided focuses on the benefits of HGH treatments.
Now, GenF20 Plus does seem to increase HGH. However, that alone doesn’t mean the benefits would be the same as an HGH treatment. For one thing, an HGH injection would probably increase HGH higher than GenF20 Plus can.
So, simply quoting benefits of HGH isn’t enough to prove that GenF20 is worth using.
To really look at the benefits that GenF20 Plus could offer, we need to consider the ingredients.
The other types of proof on the site is even more limited and focuses on testimonials and research on human growth hormone
GenF20 Plus Ingredients
As I mentioned earlier, GenF20 Plus doesn’t actually contain HGH. Instead, it is a basically a collection of herbs and nutrients that are designed to promote HGH production.
The outcomes from the study that I discussed above suggest that GenF20 Plus does achieve this goal, to some degree at least. However, the information from one study isn’t enough to come to a conclusion about any product.
According to the information on the company’s website, the different parts contain:
- GTF Chromium
- Pituitary (Anterior) Powder
- Phosphatidyl Choline
- Astragalus Root Extract
- Deer Velvet Antler
- Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate
- Moomiyo Extract
- Mucuna Pruriens (seed)
- Alpha CPC
That’s a lot of ingredients and I’m not going to go through every single one. Nevertheless, there is considerable overlap between the two products.
The first thing to note is that both products contain a range of amino acids. Amino acids are critical within our body and there are roughly 20 amino acids that are relevant to humans. Some of these we produce ourselves while others come from our diet.
In particular, all of the ingredients designated L- are amino acids.
The L- refers to a specific form of the amino acid. Within the body, many compounds can exist in two forms, which are mirror images of each other and known as enantiomers.
This results in an L- and an R- enantiomer for many biological compounds. In many cases, the L- enantiomer is the one that is biologically active.
As such, many supplements will just focus on the L- version, rather than including both.
Now, amino acids are important for health but, like vitamins, they mostly offer benefits if you’re deficient in them.
This is because the amino acids play a role in various reactions throughout the body. And, as Ben Greenfield Fitness points out, some of these do need to come from the diet.
Because of this, if you were deficient in some of these amino acids, supplementing with them could potentially increase health and HGH.
Likewise, there have been some studies showing that amino acids can boost HGH, such as arginine (21,22) and glutamine (23).
Nevertheless, many of the studies into amino acids and HGH used an injection of the amino acid and/or used higher doses. As a result, many of the observed benefits may not actually apply to GenF20 Plus.
Amino acids are sometimes used in supplements and do potentially offer some health benefits. Nevertheless, their impacts are going to be most significant for those deficient in the amino acid
As with many other products (like Thrive patches and Relacore supplements), there is a range of herbal extracts within GenF20 Plus.
One of these is Astragalus root extract. This can be found in some of the products from Shakeology, along with some other health products.
But, there seem to be no studies in humans linking this extract to HGH.
Another herbal ingredient is Mucuna pruriens, which is also known as velvet bean. One study into this herb indicated that it could increase HGH.
However, the study combined Mucuna pruriens with another herb (Chlorophytum borivilianum), so it isn’t clear which herb had the benefit (24).
Likewise, a second study found the same combination helped with sleep (25).
But, GenF20 Plus doesn’t contain the second herb, so it isn’t clear whether these benefits would be present anyway.
There are other herbs in the products as well and the patterns are similar for these.
GenF20 Plus contains a few different herbal ingredients. But, as is often the case, there is little evidence for how these compounds can be beneficial
There are also a few other ingredients that don’t fit into the general categories above. One of these is colostrum, which is a milk-like substance that does contain growth factors.
There is some evidence suggesting that this can increase levels of IGH-1 (an indirect indicator of HGH levels) (26,27). But, that evidence mostly comes from old studies and recent research has been less successful at finding a connection (28).
These outcomes suggest that colostrum has some effects in the body and could possibly help promote growth hormones. But, more research is needed before there are any solid answers.
Another compound is deer velvet antler, which is surprisingly common in supplements. Nevertheless, research has failed to find a significant connection between this supplement and HGH (29,30,31).
One final interesting ingredient is GABA, which is gamma-aminobutyric acid. The compound is a neurotransmitter. There has been one study linking this to increased HGH levels but the study was fairly limited (32).
Nevertheless, GABA is sometimes promoted as a sleep aid (33) and this is supposed to be one benefit of GenF20 Plus. Additionally, extra sleep can naturally raise HGH levels. As such, GABA may be relevant in this way, rather than raising HGH directly.
The other ingredients in GenF20 Plus aren't particularly encouraging either and there is little to suggest that they will be effective
Ingredients and Outcomes
Now, there are some other ingredients that I haven’t covered but the general pattern should be evident by now. In most cases, there may be some evidence for the effectiveness of a given compound but typically the research is minimal.
The pattern of ingredients here is similar to many other supplements on the market, including those for weight loss. Basically, you’re consuming a range of different ingredients that have the potential to offer benefits.
In most cases, the actual evidence for those benefits is relatively low although the components tend to be considered safe individually.
Nevertheless, it is important to pay close attention to how your body responds to the supplement, especially as there is the potential for these ingredients to interact with other compounds.
The outcomes of research do suggest that, when taken individually, some of these ingredients may help to promote HGH in the groups studied. As a result, a similar outcome could occur when supplementing with GenF20 Plus, as the one study on the product itself suggested.
But, it is hard to know how strong this effect would be, especially as much of the research used different doses of the ingredients that you find in GenF20 Plus.
Realistically, the evidence for the individual ingredients in GenF20 Plus isn't very strong and there is even less proof for benefits from the supplements themselves
GenF20 Plus Reviews
Science aside, what do individual GenF20 Plus reviews have to say?
Honestly, it's hard to know. Most of the reviews online are from people promoting the product, or those are looking at the science, not individual experiences.
I did find a decent number of reviews on Amazon at one point but the product has since been pulled. The balance of responses for those reviews was mixed, with some people being thrilled about the product and others seeing no effect at all.
The review below is one positive indication that I found. But, it isn't recent and the link back to the site suggests that the person could be an affiliate.
That aside, a single review doesn't say much about the product as a whole.
There will always be some people who have a good experience, even with horrible products. Likewise, some people will have bad experiences with good products.
The trick is to look at the balance of reviews overall. This is difficult when there are hardly any available.
Nevertheless, the absence of reviews does offer some information about the product. It suggests that people aren't using it regularly or that those who do aren't terribly excited about it. I would expect to see many more positive (and negative) reviews if GenF20 Plus was as amazing as the marketing suggests.
The negative reviews from bloggers also reinforce this perspective. For example, Consumer Health Digest talks about a number of problems with the product and how it is unlikely to be effective.
On a side note, there has been a large amount of hype surrounding HGH and could result in people feeling amazing after using it.
However, research has shown that many of those perceptions were not present in a blinded study, which is where participants didn’t know whether or not they were taking HGH (34).
A similar pattern may be present for any glowing GenF20 Plus reviews as well.
In practice, it is very difficult for people to know whether a given supplement is working, especially when some of the outcomes are connected to mood and energy.
We tend to be biased when considering our own behavior and we often don’t have a way of looking at it objectively. Indeed, the human brain is amazing at finding patterns, which also means that we tend to notice patterns even when none actually exist (35,36).
The reviews and patterns don’t mean that you should avoid GenF20 Plus altogether.
However, they do suggest that you should be cautious when reading GenF20 Plus reviews and with interpreting your own outcomes.
GenF20 Plus reviews are mixed, with some people raving about the supplements and others seeing no benefit at all
GenF20 Plus Side Effects
The official study into the product did report some GenF20 Plus side effects, with a total of 12 cases across the 61 participants. These were as follows:
- Acidity (8 cases)
- Pain in Abdomen (2 cases)
- Headache (1 case)
- Skin eruptions (1 case)
However, the authors argued that these were not ‘related to the study drugs’.
Regardless, the study had a fairly small sample for testing side effects, particularly as only around half of the participants were taking GenF20 Plus.
In their review on GenF20 Plus, the site Diet Spotlight highlighted a number of number of negative reactions, including inflammation and nausea.
I also saw some side effects mentioned when the product was hosted on Amazon. One example was blurry vision and another was blisters, which seemed to be part of an allergic reaction.
Now, there are also side effects associated with HGH itself, including joint pain and swelling, which were found in the study that I discussed earlier.
These side effects may not be present for GenF20 Plus because you aren’t directly supplementing with HGH. Nevertheless, the side effects are still something to be aware of.
Across the various GenF20 Plus reviews, the rate of side effects was relatively low and most people seem to be able to use the product without issues.
Realistically, most types of products will have some side effects for a subset of users. All that companies can do is true to minimize side effects as much as possible.
After all, there are many differences between one person and the next, including variations in diet and lifestyle, along with health conditions and medications.
There have been some reported GenF20 Plus side effects, although the prevalence of these isn't abnormally high
What Does This All Mean?
Like any health or nutrition product, GenF20 Plus does have its share of passionate followers. There will be some people out there that genuinely love the product and feel that it has helped them to a degree.
At the same time, there is some evidence that HGH can help offer benefits, even though the study into GenF20 Plus itself failed to find that outcome. Additionally, some of the individual ingredients in GenF20 Plus have been connected to increasing HGH or offering some health benefits. But again, the evidence is limited.
At the end of the day, the research on this topic isn’t clear.
HGH could possibly help promote improved health and perhaps fight some of the symptoms of aging. Likewise, GenF20 Plus may play a role in promoting HGH.
But, at this stage, it’s impossible to know how well the process works in practice.
Additionally, it is unlikely that GenF20 Plus results in all the benefits that it claims to.
There are enough positive GenF20 Plus reviews to suggest that you might see some benefits from trying the supplement. However, if you plan to, be aware that the observed benefits may be partly the result of the placebo effect.
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Have you tried a supplement like GenF20 Plus? Did it work for you?