Monthly Archives: November 2008

Finally, Growth Hormone Treatment in a Pill?

 For years, false promises have been made about pills that produce therapeutic increases in growth hormone levels in adults. I countered those claims in a number of articles on this site Recent scientific advances may have finally made this myth into reality. A recent study from the University of Virginia of healthy elderly individuals whose growth hormone levels were low has shown that a synthetic drug mimicking a naturally occurring brain hormone, when taken orally, can restore growth hormone levels to young healthy levels.

Growth hormone levels normally decline as we get older. It is my opinion that age related declines in hormones like growth hormone may be a form of natural programmed death of the aging body. Along with decline in growth hormone comes a decline in muscle mass and an increase in body fat.  This combination makes older people weaker more likely to suffer injury and develop diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Ghrelin is a hormone normally made in the intestine and brain.  It has the ability to stimulate the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. The new drug MK-677, a synthetic molecule which mimics ghrelin action, is absorbed into the blood after oral administration and creates a long acting natural stimulus to the pituitary to release growth hormone. Making this drug even more appealing is that it causes growth hormone release in a natural up and down rhythm (pulsatile) rather than a single big daily elevation as occurs with standard injections of growth hormone.

Does MK-677 help?  According to the researchers, muscle mass increased, and body fat remained the same but overall weight increased a small amount.  The bad cholesterol (LDL) level declined when taking the drug. The study was conducted in healthy elderly people so any benefit to quality of life was hard to measure. Additional problems may arise because ghrelin also stimulates appetite and may cause weight gain as shown in the present study.

MK-677 is an investigational medicine and is not available to the public. Only your personal health care professional can recommend whether any medical therapy is appropriate for you.

Gary Pepper, M.D.


Stress Free? You gotta be kidding! (Part 1)

“The place of absolute tranquility… the gentle water bubbles are surfacing to the blue serenity of the mountain lake… Ah… what a joy…”

“MOM!!!! WHERE IS MY DINNER??? “ “DAD!!! I AM TAKING YOUR CAR!!!” No kidding, the blue lake just popped in front of your so-called third eye and vanished into who knows what. As a mother of active nine year old boy I personally would laugh out loud at anybody who preaches the wonders of a stress-free life – it just seems impossible in many life situations. Is it really impossible or there are ways to not only cope with stress but to glide through it and come out at the other end unscathed?
It is known that stress, especially the chronic stress can create huge havoc on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. However it is very important to distinguish between the “stress triggers” and the “stress response mechanism” activated by your body. While encountering a stressful situation your body automatically shifts to the “fight or flight” mode. This response is very beneficial if you are about to run away from the grizzly bear chasing you in the woods. Your body is capable of immediately shutting down hundreds of ongoing processes such as digestion, reproduction, hormone regulation in order to activate other processes important for your immediate survival.

Now, the body reacts the same exact way either if you are stressed about running away from the grizzly bear or if you are sitting on your couch watching TV about 700 billion dollars bailout. With one simple difference – there is absolutely no physical need for your body to shut down your digestion and hormone regulation while watching news on TV. But it is happening anyway. Now, think about how many times you encounter stressful situations during your typical day.

It is not the fact of stressful events occurring in our life that wear us out – it’s the way we react to them. It means we can control some of the impact affecting our life by changing our lifestyle and our way of thinking. And it can be fun to do!

These are the three basic components in stress management:
1. Learn how to shift your attention quickly and how to use your primary senses to lessen the impact of the stressful event.
2. Nourish your body with a balanced diet supporting your well-being and avoid foods that aggravate stress.
3. Adopt a regular and fulfilling spiritual practice.

We will talk about all these topics, and in my next article I will share with you the ways of re-patterning your mind in order to handle stressful situations effectively.