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Pro HGH Supplement Review

By Wesley James

A few months ago, I received an inquiry from a reader about what he understood, based on their assertion, was a form of orally administered Human Growth Hormone (HGH). The reader had read my article suggesting that the ratios between Somatotropin, Somatomedin and Somatostatin (the 3 major growth hormones) was probably more relevant then the actual amount of Somatotropin alone, and thought, correctly, that it would interest me. In my reply to him, I advised that HGH was a product of bio-engineering that closely resembles actual, endogenous HGH but that it was not hearty enough to survive the digestive process and, therefore, had to be injected. The reader referred me to a company called "VesPro" and their product called "Pro-Symbio HGH." As it happens, VesPro has a web site, which I visited. Further, my still-curious reader sent me a packet of extracts from articles and other promotional material on the product. Since it was unclear exactly what information was coming from where, I undertook to investigate what was going on. I hasten to add that some of what you're about to read is speculative, based on information I've been able to locate and gather from diverse published literature, Medline, and botanical research sources. Speculative though it may be, I don't think I'm too far off the mark.

Before I spin this yarn and warn you of what appears to be a hoax, I need to clarify a bit of nomenclature that is so often misapplied that wrong has come be accepted as right: The group of growth hormones that are manufactured within and by the human body are human growth hormones, properly abbreviated HGH but traditionally referred to as GH. For a number of years, medical professionals treated individuals, usually children, who produced lower than normal levels of hormone (GH-deficient) with hormone extracted from animals and processed to be functional in humans. This exogenous, injectable form of growth hormone was not human growth hormone but like early forms of insulin-- extracted from pigs-- it was close enough to be effective for these unfortunate children whose growth would have been stunted but for its use. At some point in the development of bio-engineering (cc. 1992), scientists developed a technique for synthesizing growth hormone and it rapidly became the preferred form for treatment. This engineered hormone is close enough to the real thing so it can, and commonly is, called HGH. More recently, life extension and anti-aging enthusiasts and some bodybuilders have become interested in using this synthetic material for their purposes. While such uses are technically illegal in the US, clinics have popped up in Mexico and a black market has developed for the product. From a pure perspective, these are the only forms of growth hormone that exist today.

Beginning twenty, or so, years ago-- in some measure thanks to Pearson and Shaw-- another approach to affecting growth hormone levels gained popularity. The idea was to cause the body to increase its own production of growth hormone. A myriad of substances could be shown to elevate blood levels of growth hormones to varying degrees. These substances, and there are many, are properly called "GH Secretogogues." They are not oral HGH. It isn't my intention to go into detail about the various substances that have been demonstrated to produce elevated GH levels, nor will I revisit my theories about the balance of the various growth hormones, We will, however, touch on both issues slightly as we continue.

More recently, researchers have discovered another way of elevating some of the growth hormones exclusive of, or at least somewhat independent of, the others. This approach involves a naturally secreted substance referred to as Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) and, more specifically, peptides that trigger GHRH secretion. The researchers have discovered two peptides that appear to be particularly useful in stimulating elevated Somatotropin levels. (Some of the others elevate other growth hormones.) These chains of amino acids are known as Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide - 2 (GHRP-2) and GHRP-6 (SK&F 110679). (They have longer, more complex chemical names but those names would not contribute to our examination at this time.) You don't need to understand the rather complex methods used to assemble these peptides but it takes only a minimal knowledge of biochemistry to understand that these GHRPs are larger molecules then free-form amino acids. They are also larger than the di, tri and very small oligo-peptides that constitute the best whey protein supplements we can buy. Very small peptides are the form our intestinal tracts most readily assimilate (see MMJ, Vol 2, No 1, Everything You Wanted to Know About Protein but Never Knew Who to Ask). Generally, all larger proteins are broken down to this size for easier assimilation. The problem with the customized GHRPs is that they must survive the digestive process intact. That has been part of the challenge researchers have had to overcome. If the peptide is broken down, as large peptides usually are, they are nothing more than extremely expensive protein supplements. As far as I can determine, there is as yet no product currently available that makes the benefits of GHRPs available to the public. Researchers, however, have found ways to alter some the "L" form amino acids that compose these peptides into "D" form which are far more successful at surviving the intestinal tract intact.

With this background out of the way-- here we get speculative-- what appears to be happening is that VesPro is hyping a product formulation they call Pro-Symbio HGH or Symbiotropin® (a name which comes from Dr. James Jamieson, who has written a book on the subject) as though it contained GHRPs. They refer to the substrate they use as an "anterior pituitary peptide." They call their version "Aminotrope-7" and claim their product contains 3900 mg per dose of what they describe as "a sequenced glycoamino acid complex." All indications are that marketing rights to GHRP-6 belong to Smith, Klein & French, a large pharmaceutical company and that VesPro is not a licensee. It is not clear but it appears that the FDA either has or will rule the manipulated molecule a prescription drug. The VesPro product, on the other hand, based on the list of ingredients they publish, appears to be a collection of GH secretogogues, albeit with an absurd price tag, $120 a package of 40 packets (a 2 month supply because it is cycled 5 days on two days off). Each packet contains two effervescent tablets-- something like Alka-Seltzer®.

If this were the whole story of their formula, I'd simply warn you that it appears to be a rip-off. The dubious science underlying some of the substrates they've chosen for the formula wouldn't matter because the product appears to be a rip-off on the basis of price alone. It's worse than that.

One of the ingredients used in the formula is described as "Lacuna Beans, a natural source of L- Dopa." When I read this description bells went off in my brain. I checked the official listing of all scientific and botanical names for plants. There is no listing for Lacuna Beans. It is poor practice to list a nickname or slang name as an ingredient or source in a product but I allowed that it was possible VesPro were attempting to guard the true identitiy of the plant source while accurately indentifying what it provides. In this way, they would satisfy FDA product labelling regulations yet make it difficult for others companies to duplicate their formulation. On perusing VesPro's literature further, I found a description of this source of L-Dopa as "Vicia faba major." Returning to the botanical listings, I found that Vicia faba is another name for the faba or, more commonly, fava bean. The literature on this plant breaks down the nutritional and anti-nutritional constituents of the bean. It include the following observations:

"Anti-nutritionals include L-Dopa. Injected intravenously in rabbits, extracts have produced hemoglobinuria and death. An ethanol-ether extract has estrogenic activity, 50 mg stimulates the non-pregnant uterus at dioestrus. The LD50 of the bean extract in mice was 19,000 mg/kg body weight."

I also remembered a part of a comment about L-Dopa. (Just as a reminder, L-Dopa is a prescription drug used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, that is also a powerful GH secretogogue). I checked the source of the comment and realized I'd correctly remembered that Velvet Beans (Mucuna deeringiana) were a source of L-Dopa. I became persuaded that VesPro's Lacuna Bean is closely related to the Mucuna (also sometimes spelled Macuna) bean. As it happens, the Mucuna Bean is a very robust plant that grow in many parts of the world where conditions will not permit growing most other plants. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations, has heavily researched it as a food crop. The research on Macuna bean is more extensive than on Vicia faba but they are very closely related and the data is transferable. I could include pages on the efforts that have been made to explain the deaths that have occured from primitives eating beans that contain L-Dopa. I could include additional pages on the experiments that have been performed to determine how best to eliminate the toxicity of these beans, which would otherwise be an excellent food source. I can sum it up, however: Soaking them in water three times and throwing away the water will eliminate enough L-Dopa to render them safe but cooking them at 350 degrees will destroy it. Any other use of the beans or their extracts will contain a potentially toxic quantity of L-Dopa. We are left to conclude that depending on the processing of the "Lacuna beans" used in VesPro's formula their product is toxic, potentially toxic or the beans contribute little or nothing to the formula.

Now, it is not impossible that a company, perhaps even VesPro, could extract, pulverize or otherwise process fava beans in such a way that a little L-Dopa gets through. If, however, that is the case, they're still not in the clear. The resulting product would still increase estrogen levels in those who ingested it. Thus, whatever minimal benefit might accrue from use of this trace of L-Dopa, would be offset by the elevated estrogen levels the research reveals. We work hard to elevate our testosterone levels and block estrogens (sometimes by extreme means). Why we would want to take an estrogen elevating compound eludes me.

The reader who first introduced me to VesPro and their product was considering becoming a distributor for the product and, therefore, had contact with the company. He passed along some of my concerns about their formula to them. He was told that one of their representatives, a Dr. Richard J. Marsh M.D., would get in touch with me with their response. That was well over a month ago. They have not responded to date. Their literature is very interesting and persuasive to a point but it asks that you accept a great deal on faith. At $1.50 a tablet, faith is expensive. It's going to take a great deal more proof of safety and efficacy before I'd even consider this product. For the sake of your life, health and bank account, I strongly advise you do the same.

Copyright © 1996 Physique Tools and Wesley James

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