Blood Tests To Measure Growth Hormone
By Lisa Wells, RN
The Serum IGF-1 Blood Test
The blood test that is commonly used for measuring human growth hormone in the aging adult is the IGF-1 test. This test can be a random blood draw unless the doctor instructs the patient to fast the night before and morning of the test.
Growth Hormone Stimulation Tests
In children and adults who are suspected of having a growth hormone deficiency unrelated to age doctors may do a growth hormone stimulation test.
IV Infusion Tests
The HGH stimulation test requires the patient to be hooked up to an IV and so should be done in a hospital setting. The doctor then infuses substances such as GHRH, arginine, or glucagon to try to stimulate the pituitary gland to release growth hormone. Arginine has been commonly used to try to stimulate the pituitary gland but some new research has shown that it may be the least effective option.
Another option the doctor may use to stimulate HGH release is called the insulin tolerance test. Some feel this to be the most effective but it carries risks.
For the insulin tolerance test the physician gives the patient insulin in order to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which should stimulate a release of growth hormone by the pituitary gland.
Both HGH stimulation tests require the patient's blood to be drawn every 30 minutes over a period of time. This is done in the hopes that the blood will be drawn while the growth hormone is still in the bloodstream before it is taken in by the liver.
New Oral Stimulation Test
Lastly, a new drug called macimorelin, a synthetic peptide similar to the secretagogue ghrelin, is being used to stimulate growth hormone release to help diagnose growth hormone deficiency. This medication also has risk factors.2
Below you will find questions we received in our old forums relating to the tests that should be done to accurately measure human growth hormone in the body, along with my replies to the questions.
Question: Hi, I have done a blood test and the growth hormone result was <1 while the reference range is ( 1-13 mU/L). This means that I have low growth hormone. I'm an 18 year old male and in terms of height, my siblings are quite significantly taller than me. Two of my siblings reach a height of around 179 cm while I am only about 170 cm. Could my relatively short stature be caused by my low level of growth hormone? What treatment would you recommend best considering the safety and health issues?
Answer: Thank you for visiting our forums. Did your doctor do a growth hormone stimulation test? The stimulation test measures the pituitary gland's ability to release HGH when stimulated.
Do you know whether you were given IV GHRH, arginine, or insulin during the stimulation test?
Follow-up question: Hi, thanks for your reply. What I did was only a blood test. I did not receive anything else as far as I know. I am now referred to an endocrinologist. Is this the correct procedure?
Follow-up answer: So it sounds like your doctor mistakenly ordered a random blood draw to measure HGH. If you just went in and had your blood drawn and they checked your growth hormone level it won't be accurate.
The reason is because once released by the pituitary gland HGH is only in the bloodstream for a couple of minutes. It is quickly taken in by the liver and converted into growth factors. So it doesn't remain in the bloodstream long enough for any random blood test to be accurate, unless just by chance they happened to draw your blood within a couple of minutes after your pituitary gland had released HGH, and since it releases it in short spurts throughout the day only as needed that is unlikely.
In order to get an accurate growth hormone blood reading the doctor has to inject a substance via IV in order to try to stimulate the pituitary gland to release HGH. Then they have to draw the blood promptly and this process continues every 30 minutes over a period of time.
The only random blood test that may be used to measure HGH in the body is called an IGF-1 blood test, but from what you said your results were I don't think that is the test they did.
Regarding my recommendations, if your doctor does an accurate growth hormone stimulation test or an IGF-1 test and the results are significantly low he may recommend the injections, but if the results are within normal range, even at the low end of normal, he will probably not prescribe the injections since they may cause side effects as well as problems such as shutting down your own production of growth hormone.
If he doesn't think you need prescription growth hormone replacement with the injections then I would recommend our products, which are homeopathic sprays that contain growth hormone in safe homeopathic form. Besides containing homeopathic HGH our HGH Plus IGF-1 & IGF-2 product also contains IGF-1 and IGF-2 and several other growth factors including a bone growth factor from the source velvet deer antler. Our product should also help the pituitary gland to increase its own release of HGH if needed.
So, if he does not think you need the injections you might wish to tell him about our product, which I believe to be an effective and safe alternative.
We have other teenagers who take our product under their doctor's care because they want to get the most growth out of the time they have left in their growth and development stage.
Please see our page called HGH and Increasing Height.
There I have answered many questions regarding someone in your age group using growth hormone therapy to increase their height. However, if you cannot find the information you seek please let me know.
Follow-up question: Thanks again for the reply. I've gone to an endocrinologist this time. It turned out that he asked me to take another blood test again. But this time I should jog around first for 15 minutes before the test, to stimulate the production of HGH. Is this also an accurate way of testing growth hormone? May I know whether your products have any side effects? If I take your products at my age would I still have a good chance to gain height?
Follow-up answer: So, he had you jog around for 15 minutes and then sent you to have your blood drawn to check your growth hormone level. We know that strenuous exercise can stimulate growth hormone release but I don't know how much 15 minutes of jogging would help.
I guess different doctors have different ways of doing things so I will just say that he probably doesn't want to do an actual HGH stimulation test because some doctors, including anti-aging doctors, do not consider these tests to be accurate, and more importantly the stimulation tests are risky.
There have been reports of serious side effects including death after growth hormone stimulation tests in adults and so unless he has a good reason to suspect growth hormone deficiency he probably doesn't want to do the stim test, and I don't blame him.
Of course I do not know your doctor so I cannot know for sure what his position is.
As previously stated we in anti-aging medicine consider the IGF-1 level to be a much better indicator of growth hormone levels in the body, and the IGF-1 blood test can be done randomly without any stimulation needed. Another name for the IGF-1 test is "Somatomedin C".
If interested: Normal IGF-1 Levels.
Concerning your question about increasing height, it will depend on whether your bones have fused. This can also be checked by your doctor.
Regarding any possible HGH side effects when taking our product please click the link.
What is the Normal IGF-1 Level?
Question: Hello, I would like to know what is a normal IGF- 1 level for someone around 30 years old? How can I get my IGF-1 level checked? Also, is there any problem with taking your HGH spray and also using a powdered amino acid formula. Could this boost the results?
Answer: Thank you for your interest in our product. The complete list of "normal for age" IGF-1 levels is found at the link in the post above.
For ages 25 - 39 years the normal IGF-1 level is 114-492.
All you need to do is see your doctor and request an IGF-1 blood test.
Regarding your other question, our homeopathic human growth hormone sprays may be taken with amino acids. In fact, since the body must have the proper building blocks to actually build the new cells that the growth factors of HGH ask it to build, taking a good balanced diet with enough protein (amino acids are the building blocks of protein) is a good idea, and should enhance the benefits.
Saliva Hormone Test Results - Should I take HGH?
Question: I am a 31 year old male that is about 20 lbs overweight (6'1" & 200 lbs) and have obtained HGH to start taking to get back into shape. Before doing so I wanted to get a saliva hormone test to see where I stand and not walk into the hgh blind. I plan on taking 3 iu a day mixed with exercise and healthy eating. I would appreciate if anyone can make sense of my test results and let me know if it would be a bad or good idea if I started with my hgh injections.
Estradiol - 4.1 (high end of range) Male endogenous range: 0.80 - 6.6 pg/mL
Testosterone - 180 (above range) Endogenous testosterone < 35 yrs: 43 - 150 pg/mL
DHEAS - 23 (above range) Endogenous DHEAS 25 - 34 years: 4.0 - 15 ng/mL
Cortisol AM - 5.0 (within range) Sampled within 1 hour of waking: 2.0 - 11 ng/mL
Cortisol Noon - 6.3 (high end of range) Sampled at noon: 1.0 - 7.0 ng/mL
Cortisol PM - 1.9 (within range) Sampled prior to evening meal: 0.50 - 3.5 ng/mL
Cortisol HS - 2.8 (above range) Sampled at bedtime: 0.20 - 1.3 ng/mL
Answer: Did you have your IGF-1 level checked? It is a random blood test that is used to measure HGH in the body. IGF-1 is the level you need to check in order to see if you need growth hormone. You should be able to get that test at the same place you used for your other blood tests. You can also buy an IGF-1 home kit at canaryclub.org and do the test yourself.
Are you taking testosterone or any precursors at this time? If so then it looks like because you are either taking or making too much testosterone your body is converting it into estrogen.
Are you taking DHEA? If so that will explain your high DHEA level. Also, the body can convert DHEA into testosterone.
Another reason why DHEA can be high is when a person is in the alarm phase of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal gland overcompensates, making more DHEA and cortisol in order to protect your body from stress. Your bedtime cortisol is high.
The bedtime cortisol level being high can also be caused by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If you ate simple carbs 1-2 hours before you did the saliva test this could cause your cortisol to go up.
You may want to repeat the cortisol test and make sure you eat a balanced dinner and any snack before bedtime should contain protein and low simple carbs.
Back to HGH, when you have your IGF-1 level results I will be happy to give you my opinion as to whether you need therapy.
Follow-up question: Hi Lisa. Thanks for the reply! No I didn't do the blood test only the saliva test. I'll take your advice and get it done asap. As for the other stuff you mentioned, I'm not currently taking any testosterone, DHEA, or estrogen boosters. That was just my results from a typical day. I also wasn't eating a lot of carbs that day. Any pointers on supplements I can take to balance me out?
Follow-up answer: Do you eat much soy? Unless it is fermented, like in soy sauce or miso soup you should not eat soy, no soy milk or soy protein, but just try finding a protein bar or shake that doesn't contain soy isolate or soy lecithin, its almost impossible.
Besides increasing estrogen soy does many other terrible things to the body. If you don't already know just search for "dangers of soy" and you will be shocked.
Soy is now found in most frozen and canned foods and even most restaurants use soy in most things they cook. It seems that soy is everywhere, and not the fermented kind but the unfermented bad kind that is full of toxins and phytates.
As far as supplements to help decrease your estrogen level, calcium d-glucarate, DIM, chelated zinc, and magnesium aspartate are used.
BTW, high estrogen promotes increased fat, so when you get your estrogen down it should help you to lose weight easier.
Follow-up question: Nope, I don't eat any soy of any kind. haha! I'll certainly try one of those supplements though. Thanks again!
Follow-up answer: We have a page that lists the normal range of various hormones in the body based on age. Please keep in mind these levels are what modern mainstream medicine considers "normal for age" without any intervention.
We in anti-aging and functional medicine believe that each individual's normal hormone level should be the level at which that person's body functions optimally at.
You will find information about the normal levels of IGF-1 (to measure human growth hormone), DHEA, the estrogens (estradiol, estriol, estrone), progesterone, and testosterone in men and women on the page below.
1. Garcia, J M et al. “Macimorelin (AEZS-130)-stimulated growth hormone (GH) test: validation of a novel oral stimulation test for the diagnosis of adult GH deficiency,” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 98,6 (2013): 2422-9. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1157
PLEASE NOTE: The information provided here is not meant to be medical advice. Please consult your private healthcare provider.