Stronger bones, faster muscle repair, and improved metabolism are just a few of the results from Human Growth Hormone (hGH or GH) release, and excitingly there are a few low cost, and minimal effort activities that each person can do to enhance hGH production. Among these activities is using a sauna regularly, however, if you are using a sauna to improve hGH then you will want to do so using a very specific protocol.
Depending on the results that you are looking to achieve, how you use a sauna will vary significantly, and this includes using a sauna for the purpose of increasing hGH. This article will review what hGH actually is (and why you may want more of it), how intentional heat therapy (aka saunas) may help achieve the aforementioned goal, and finally, how to actually use a sauna in order to achieve improved hGH production.
Look for the practical guide on how to achieve higher levels of Growth Hormone secretion with sauna use by following the protocol outlined below.
What Is Human Growth Hormone?
Human Growth Hormone is a protein that is produced naturally in the body, and it is important for growing children and adolescents, but also for adults as well. (1) Unfortunately, as humans age they produce less and less Growth Hormone as the years go by. GH is produced in the pituitary gland and is then transferred to the hypothalamus before entering into the bloodstream to be delivered to other portions of the body outside of the brain. (1)
Most medical conversation surrounding GH is within the context of childhood growth processes, for example, the growth of bone plates. Even if an individual has completed puberty and has reached their adult height, growth hormone production remains important for a variety of bodily functions. These include, but are not limited to, improving bone density, stabilized metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and overall endocrine function. According to Genentech’s published article on Human Growth Hormone, it is important for adults to continue to facilitate the continued production of this protein for these additional reasons:
“Not only is the GH produced in your body vital to maintaining healthy body composition, it also contributes to proper bone density, heart muscle function, and ratios of “good” to “bad” cholesterol, all of which are important to reduce the risk of such conditions as high cholesterol and osteoporosis.” (2)
Furthermore, if you are an adult athlete, or just generally want to improve your muscle recovery for fitness, it is important to continue to produce GH in high quantities to prevent injury to connective tissues, or to the muscles themselves.
Unfortunately, as aging occurs, Growth Hormone also decreases despite its continued need in the body.
So, the question remains – how can each individual improve their GH production?
Can Saunas Help In the Production of Human Growth Hormone?
The data has been collected from a variety of studies performed on individuals engaged in sauna use that suggest that when saunas are used in a very specific kind of way Human Growth Hormone shows up in the serum and urinary excretion in substantially, and clinically significant amounts higher than before sauna use. To be clear, saunas need to be taken by following a specific protocol in order for these results to show up.
A study published by Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, entitled: Endocrine Effects of Repeated Sauna Bathing examined the effects of sauna bathing on 10 healthy adult males, and 7 healthy adult females (3). GH was not measured in the females, however it was measured in the males. After one week of twice daily saunas the results showed a 16 fold increase in hGH in the male participants:
“Serum GH and prolactin in males exhibited 16- and 2.3-fold increases (P < 0.01), respectively.” (3)
The approach that this study used is important to understand as it will help you to re-enact a surge in hGH while using a sauna at home or your local gym.
It is worth noting that hGH is released at night time while we sleep, and if you have ever missed a good night’s sleep for a day or two in a row, then you have probably noticed the wear and tear on your skin, perhaps sore muscles, and an overall tenderness to the body from receiving a lack GH. If you sauna before bed or in the evening you will be mirroring your body’s natural temperature rise, and therefore fall that occurs for sleep. By using a sauna at night time you will also improve the release of hGH by ensuring that you have a good night’s sleep. (4)
How to Use a Sauna For Improved Human Growth Production and Secretion?
- Sauna on an empty stomach (at least 2-3 hours of fasting)
- Sauna infrequently in general (as opposed to other sauna protocols needed for circulation, detoxification, weight loss ect… that require regular sauna use)
- Sauna at intervals throughout the day to complete a total of 4 * 30 minute sessions with cooling breaks in between. (4)
In order to maximize the production and eventual secretion of Growth Hormone by using a sauna you will want to do so on an empty stomach. This means that for at least 2-3 hours prior to your sauna you should not eat. (4)
If your intention is to improve Growth Hormone production by using a sauna, then the protocol will vary wildly from what is generally prescribed for sauna use. So, if you plan to use a sauna for nearly any reason other than Growth Hormone production please do NOT follow this particular protocol.
According to Dr. Andrew Huberman of Stanford University sauna protocol with the explicit purpose of improving Human Growth Hormone production should look like this:
“To use sauna for improved release of Growth Hormone, use the sauna infrequently (once per week or less). However, those days you do sauna, you will be in the sauna for multiple sessions of 30 minutes each with cool down periods in between. Peer-reviewed research says this protocol works well to increase growth hormone: 30 minutes in sauna, then cool off outside sauna for 5 minutes, then 30 minutes more in sauna, then cool off. A few hours (or more) later in the day, you repeat that for a total of four 30-minute sessions of sauna in one day (that’s a lot!)” (4)
Dr. Huberman does qualify the above statement with the following:
“More frequent sauna use has other effects but will blunt the Growth Hormone-increasing effects. (4)
This protocol stands in stark contrast to other recommended ways to sauna, however it appears to be the one to follow for the explicit purpose of improving GH release. If you follow this protocol you will need to prepare your body for a day in the sauna with proper hydration. This means hydrating in the days leading up to your sauna day, during the sauna sessions themselves, as well as between sessions, and afterward. Your fluids should contain electrolytes, and ought to be low in artificial sugar.
As a basic guideline remember that your body will lose 16 ounces of fluid for every 10 minutes spent in the sauna.(4) This needs to be the bare minimum requirement for proper hydration during your sauna sessions.
It Is Possible To Improve Human Growth Hormone Secretion With Sauna Use If Correct Protocol Is Followed
If you decide that using a sauna to improve Human Growth Hormone secretion is for you, then make sure to follow the correct protocol. Moreover, in order to stay healthy while following such an intense protocol be sure to stay well hydrated throughout the day of sauna use. You will also want to make sure you eat a vitamin, mineral, and protein rich meal after your sauna sessions are completed.
Following the protocol suggested in this article is not for everyone. If you have questions or concerns please consult a medical practitioner before using a sauna for Growth Hormone release. As is the case with any exercise, diet, or other health care regime you will want to build up slowly so that you can tolerate the full duration of time in the sauna.
The main rule of thumb when it comes to sauna therapy is this: Start low and slow. This refers to a low temperature and a short amount of time in the sauna. By following this mantra it will help to keep you safe as you develop a tolerance to the heat from a sauna as well as the body’s response to the heat.