“Become immune to the passage of time.” Those are the words used to describe GenF20 Plus, a supplement said to raise human growth hormone (HGH). The idea is that if we could get our bodies to naturally raise HGH levels, we would feel – and hopefully look – younger. There is some research on this product and thats why I wanted to review it. In this review, I'll look at not only that study but also the ingredients in GenF20 Plus (there are several) and try to find research to support their use. Along the way, I'll try to help you figure out of GenF20 Plus is right for you. Also see my review of SeroVital for more insights.
GenF20 And Growth Hormone
GenF20 Plus is technically referred to as a secretagogue (sa-Kreet-ah-gog). The word secretagogue refers something that causes something else to be secreted. In this case, that something else, is human growth hormone (HGH). In other words, it's supposed to help people naturally make more HGH.
GenF20 Plus consists of both capsules and a liquid form of the supplement. People use both products. The idea behind using the supplement is that it's supposed to stimulate the pituitary gland (in the brain) to release (secrete) growth hormone, a compound that peaks around age 30 and then tends to decrease by about 2% or so each year thereafter. Growth hormone, in turn, promotes the release of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). I mention IGF because if you read the GenF20 study that I'll summarize below (and others I've linked to in this review), you'll see this stuff mentioned.
Growth hormone and IGF-1 are not the same but things that raise HGH also raise IGF-1. Think of HGH as a signal that causes IGF-1 to be released. IGF-1 does many of the things that are attributed to growth hormone. It is all very complicated and I won't get into the details here. For a more in depth review, see this excerpt from the book, Manual of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Growth hormone (IGF-1) does many things including but not limited to:
- Increases muscle growth (aka protein synthesis).
- Reduces protein breakdown.
- Increases bone growth.
- Increases fat breakdown (“fat burning”).
- Maintains blood sugar levels.
The hype of HGH being anti-aging or “the fountain of youth” is often traced to a study from 1991, conducted by renowned HGH researcher Daniel Rudman, where 6 months of HGH injections in older men, lead to some interesting results such as modest reductions in body fat, and increased skin thickening. For more on this study see this 1996 New York Times article.
It should be remembered that injections of HGH may not cause the same results as oral HGH supplements.
GenF20 Capsule Ingredients
According to the GenF20 Plus study (which is a PDF file you can download from the product website), each capsule of GenF20 Plus has these ingredients:
|Tribulus Terrestris Extract 40%||80 mg|
|Astragalus Root||60 mg|
|Colostrum Powder 10%||50 mg|
|Deer Antler Velvet Powder||50 mg|
|Anterior Pituitary Powder||30 mg|
|GTF Chromium||0.1 mg|
I'll cover the HGH research on many of these ingredients below.
GenF20 Plus Spray Ingredients
GenF20 Plus is actually 2 different products – capsules and a supplement that is sprayed into the mouth. The table above describes the capsule ingredients. This table lists the ingredients in 2 ml of the the GenF20 Plus spray.
|Alpha GPC||350 mg|
|Growth Factor Proprietary Blend, consisting of:||2000 nanograms|
|Mucuna Pruriens (seed)|
|Stimulator Factor Proprietary Blend, Consisting of:||1000 nanograms|
|Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate|
As can be seen, there is some similarity of ingredients between the spray and capsules. Further below, I'll cover the ingredients that are different between the two products.
GenF20 HGH Research
There is a clinical study on this product. You can read it yourself as it's available on the product website (it's a pdf file you can download). I've read the study and I'm going to summarize it for you here.
Study Title: “A Study To Evaluate The Effect of GenF20Plus on IGF-1 Levels In Normal To Overweight Adult Volunteers With Poor Quality Of Sleep, Decreased Memory, Decreased Libido and low Energy Levels.” The study was dated June 4 2012. This investigation does not appear to be a peer reviewed study. That is a weakness of the investigation in my opinion.
Peer reviewed studies are those that, before they are published in medical journals, go through a review period where other experts – “the peers” – look over how the study was performed. This peer-review process helps improve the quality of the research before it's released for the world to see.
Who Did The Study? The study was sponsored by the makers of GenF20, Leading Edge Marketing also known as Leading Edge Health. That's fine with me. I appreciate it when companies take the time to sponsor research on their products. Companies that do this, say to me, that they stand behind their products. I like that and it's rare.
Where Was The Study Conducted? This study was conducted by Vedic LifeSciences, Pvt, Ltd, a company which is based in India.
Why India? With all the quality universities in the US, why did the company -which is itself based in the US – go to India to get their research done?
What Did The Study Consist Of? The study involved 70 men and women (61 completed the study) who were 35-64 years of age. The people were randomly given either a placebo or GenF20 Plus. The study lasted 12 weeks (3 months). The people in the study included both normal weight and overweight individuals (according to Body Mass Index).
What Did They Use? For 12 weeks, the people either received a placebo or GenF20. The people took 2 GenF20 capsules twice a day (4 capsules total per day) an hour before meals. In addition, the people also used GenF20 Plus liquid spray. They used 4 ml per day (2 ml, twice a day, before meals).
The liquid was held under the tongue for 30 seconds and then swallowed. The placebo group received placebo capsules and liquid placebos.
GenF20 Study Results
Here are the results of the GenF20 Plus study:
- People over age 40 who took GenF20 Plus saw a significant increase in IGF-1 levels compared to the placebo group. This is taken to mean it raised HGH levels. IGF-1 levels increased 28.57% in those who were 40 years of age and older.
However, compared to the placebo group:
- There was no significant change in IGF-1 levels (or HGH) in people younger than 40 years of age.
- There was no significant change in body weight.
- There was no significant change in body fat.
- There was no significant change in Body Mass Index (BMI).
- There was no significant change in waist circumference.
- There was no significant change in lean body mass (muscle mass).
GenF20 Study Problems
After looking at the GenF20 study, a few possible issues occurred to me:
- Both the placebo group and those getting GenF20 showed basically the same improvements in memory, energy levels, and sleep quality. There were no significant differences between the groups.
- Compared to the placebo group, people using GenF20 Plus didn't do any better at reducing body weight, percent body fat, waste circumference or body mass index. In other words, the placebo group did just as well as those getting the supplement.
- Body fat was determined using bio-electrical impedance analysis. The device used was the Omron HBF200. Basically you stand on the gizmo and it tells your body fat. This is not the most accurate way to measure body fat.
- This study isn't published in a medical journal. That severely lowers the strength of the study in my opinion.
These results are odd. The study showed GenF20 improved HGH levels (if you 40 or more) but the people didn't seem any better off – after 3 months of use – than those who just got a placebo.
Here's what I think. One study – positive or not – really doesn't tell us much. I think other studies need to be done to get a better idea of what might be happening. When I become aware of new studies, I'll update this portion of my review.
Research On GenF20 Ingredients
There is research on many of the ingredients in GenF20 Plus. Lets look at some of that research now. Since the product is a touted to increase human growth hormone, this is what I will look for. Where possible, I'll also look for research involving humans.
Arginine is an amino acid and is a popular ingredient in HGH and testosterone supplements as well as male enhancement supplements too. Some of the products I've previously reviewed that contained arginine include:
- SeroVital (click to read review)
- Andro400 (click to read review)
- Thrive Patch (click to read review)
- Force Factor (click to read review)
Some research (but not all) does show arginine can raise HGH levels. However, at least one study has shown that when combined with exercise, the rise in HGH is less. In other words, exercise – alone – raises HGH better than exercise + arginine. I agree, this is an odd result.
Studies looking at arginine to improve HGH levels have used 5-9 grams per day. GenF20 Plus only has 130 mg per capsule. It's worth noting that not all research shows arginine raises HGH levels. In this 1993 study, 3000 mg (3 grams) of arginine didn't work when it was given to older men.
In a 2008 study, 3000 mg of arginine (combined with 2200 mg of ornithine) increased HGH and IGF1 (up to an hour later) in 17 weight lifters and bodybuilders, when it was combined with a heavy strength training program, compared to when the men got a placebo.
GenF20 Plus also has ornitine but it's less than this study used. This study also noted that the arginine/ornitine combination did not alter the resting levels of HGH or IGF1. In other words, taking the combination of amino acids didn't seem to do alter normal HGH levels. The level only went up after the men lifted weights.
Glutamine is popular in muscle building supplements. There was a study from 1995 that noted 2 grams (2000 mg) of glutamine might raise HGH levels. While the study is interesting, it involved a lot of the amino acid. Each capsule of GenF20 Plus only has 115 mg of glutamine.
Also see my glutamine review for more insights.
This is an amino acid. A study from 1978 did note 250 ml glycine could raise HGH levels, but this didn't appear to be from an oral supplement. Rather, the amino acid was injected.
Like GABA,discussed below, glycine has an inhibition effect in the nervous system. This makes me wonder if its use in GenF20 Plus is to help people sleep better? Better sleep might raise HGH levels.
This is an amino acid. I'm not aware of any human research of tyrosine raising growth hormone levels.
Tribulus Terrestris Extract
The GenF20 Plus label says that the product contains an extract of tribulus, but we are not told which extract it has. It also says that the extract is “40%” but I'm unclear what the 40% refers to.
I usually see tribulus terrestris in testosterone supplements and male enhancement supplements. The internet is full of claims on the benefits of tribulus, but unfortunately the science does not support most of them. Most of the research I've see for this herb involves lab animals. I'm not aware of any effect tribulus has on HGH.
In this study, tribulus did not raise testosterone levels or strength or muscle mass when it was given to young men for a month. That study used 450 mg of tribulis. GenF20 plus only has 80 mg. It could be that the extract used in GenF20 Plus is more concentrated (which would mean less is needed) but we would need research to test this.
Here is my review of Tribulus/testosterone research. In that review I tried to focus only on the human research that's been conducted.
It's scientific name is Astragalus membranaceus. Other products I've looked at that contained Astragalus include:
When I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Astragalus membranaceus growth hormone” and “Astragalus membranaceus HGH” I could not locate any studies involving humans showing the compound raised growth hormone levels.
Colostrum is a milk-like substance produced by humans and animals shorty after giving birth. It has many different growth factors and is used to nourish babies. Colostrum powder is the powdered version of this liquid.
Much of the colostrum I've seen in supplements comes from cows. A such, its other name is “bovine colostrum.” When I called the company, I was told the colostrum in GenF20 also comes from cows and that the country of origin of the cows was the USA.
Each capsule of GenF20 Plus has 50 milligrams of colostrum powder.
There is some evidence that colostrum can increase IGF-1 levels in humans. In this 1997 study, 125 ml of bovine colostrum was seen to increase IGF-1 levels in 9 male sprinters.
Ingesting 20 grams of a specific bovine colostrum supplement was also observed to increase IGF-1 levels in this 1985 study also.
In a 2014 study titled, The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation in older adults during resistance training, 40 older men and women were randomly given either 60 grams of bovine colostrum or 38 grams of whey protein for 8 weeks. The people also lifted weights during the study too.
At the end of of the study, there was no change in IGF-1 levels between the groups although interestingly, those getting the colostrum were able to lift more weight on the leg press machine, than those getting whey protein.
In a 2013 study, 300 mg of goat colostrum, given to people with type II diabetes, caused a reduction in the need for insulin and a “normalization” of blood sugar levels. In this study, it was assumed that the results were due to colstrum increasing IGF-1 levels. I can't tell from the summary of the study I linked to if IGF-1 levels were measured. I'll assume they were.
The studies I could locate appear to show that colostrum is doing something when ingested by people. Some of these effects appear to be positive. Some studies show colostrum can raise IGF-1 (growth hormone) while others say it doesn't. Colostrum is an interesting compound that I feel deserves more human research.
Deer Antler Velvet Powder
While I'm not familiar with how this is harvested, I have to say this particular ingredient – as a supplement- is a bit disturbing in that it involves the removal of deer antlers at a specific time in their growth when they are covered in little hairs (the “velvet”). The antlers are then ground into powder and used in products for a variety of reasons ranging from improving exercise ability to enhancing sexual performance.
Each capsule of GenF20 Plus contains 50 mg of this ingredient.
In some circles deer antler velvet is said to contain IGF-1. Indeed, at least one study has noted IGF-1 is present in some deer antler velvet supplements. The problem is that I'm not sure if does anything, as far as exercise or raising IGF-1 levels in people are concerned.
In this 2003 study, titled The effects of deer antler velvet extract or powder supplementation on aerobic power, erythropoiesis, and muscular strength and endurance characteristics, 38 active men were randomly given either a placebo or 300 mg of deer antler velvet per day for 10 weeks. The results showed no change in IGF 1 or testosterone levels. Likewise, no change in strength or aerobic exercise ability was detected either.
In a 2005 study, titled Effect of elk velvet antler supplementation on the hormonal response to acute and chronic exercise in male and female rowers, 46 male and female rowers were given either a placebo or 560 mg of deer antler velvet (they called it elk velvet antler) for 10 weeks in addition to their exercise training regimen. These researchers saw no change in hormones (including testosterone) or rowing ability.
In a 2012 review of the research titled Health benefits of deer and elk velvet antler supplements: a systematic review of randomised controlled studies, the authors concluded that most of the claims for deer antler velvet supplements “do not appear to be based upon rigorous research from human trials.” The authors, however, did leave open the possibility that the supplement might help arthritis.
Across the pond, British fitness expert Christian Finn has a nice write up on dear antler velvet that's worth a look for those who want more insights.
GABA stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid. It's a compound the body uses as a neurotransmitter (it helps brain cells talk to each other). To see what effect it might have on growth hormone levels, I searched the National Library Of Medicine for these search terms:
- GABA HGH
- GABA IGF
- GABA Growth Hormone
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid HGH
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid IGF
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid Growth Hormone
My thinking was these search terms should reveal any studies on this topic. I located a 2008 study involving 11 men who were given 3 grams of GABA or a placebo. The study noted that GABA increased growth hormone at rest and after exercise. This study did not last long enough to see if this rise in growth hormone translated into greater strength improvements. Since GABA can have a calming effect, I wonder if its present to help people sleep better? Better sleep might mean more growth hormone. I'm speculating of course on its purpose.
This is an amino acid and together with valine and leucine, form the branch chain amino acids (BCAA). While primate studies have indicated BCAAs may influence growth hormone release, I'm not aware of any studies that looked at only Isoleucine (alone) or Isoleucine + valine (which GenF20 Plus also contains).
Anterior Pituitary Powder
Since the anterior pituitary gland is portion of the brain, that means this ingredient is basically ground up brain parts. As I mentioned in my book, several years ago, in some circles, these ground up brain parts are sometimes referred to as “glandulars.”
The idea here is that because growth hormone comes from the anterior pituitary gland, eating the pituitary glands of other animals, might raise our level of HGH. I'm sorry but I don't believe this can happen. Brains are made up of fat and protein. When we eat fat and protein, they get digested. In other words, they don't get into us as brains.
When I called the company that makes GenF20 I was told the anterior pituitary glands come from cows. I was also told the USA is the country of origin of the cows.
This ingredient is not included in the Canadian version of GenF20 Plus. I see no reason for it to be in the US version either.
As I mentioned with respect to isoleucine above, I'm not aware of any human evidence that valine alone (or combined with isoleucine) raises HGH levels in people.
I'm not aware of any studies showing phosphatidylcholine raises HGH levels in people.
This is an amino acid. GenF20 Plus provides 25 mg of ornithine per capsule. In a small study from 2008, 17 men (bodybuilders and weight lifters) where given a combination of ornithine (2200 mg) and arginine. (3000 mg).
Over the course of 3 weeks, the arginine and ornitine combination – in conjunction with a heavy weight lifting program – was shown to increase HGH and IGF-1 compared to when the men got the placebo.
The ornithine/arginine combination did not alter the normal, resting levels of HGH or IGF1. The researchers noted that the levels stayed higher up to 60 minutes after the weight lifting program.
Chromium is a mineral that is involved in blood sugar control (among other things) and the letters GTF stand for glucose tolerance factor.
The GTF molecule basically helps insulin work better.
Technically GTF and chromium are not the same. Since both GTF and chromium can impact how insulin works and because insulin-like-growth factor (IGF) is related to HGH, adding chromium to a growth hormone supplement might make some sense.
I've already covered the evidence for chromium and weight loss so see that for more insights. But, what about HGH? Even though it seems to make sense in theory, I can't find any human studies showing chromium supplements increase HGH levels.
The product website states that “lower blood glucose can increase HGH.” A walk around the block can also lower blood sugar levels and provide many more benefits than a chromium supplement.
Most experts feel 20-30 micrograms a day is fine for most people need. Deficiency in chromium is probably rare in industrialized countries given that fruits, veggies and beans are all good sources of the mineral. Each capsule of GenF20 Plus provides 0.1 mg (100 micrograms/mcg) of GTF Chromium.
GenF20 Spray Ingredients
Here is a brief review of the ingredients in the spray that are not found in the capsules.
Each 2 milliliters of the spray contains 350 mg of alpha GPC.
The scientific name for this stuff is alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline. From what I can gather, alpha GPC is has been traditionally used to improve memory and alertness in people with memory problems.
In 2008, a small study (7 men, about 30 years of age) noted that Alpha GPC also might raise growth hormone levels after exercise, compared to a placebo. This study used 600 mg of an Alpha GPC supplement called “AlphaSize”
In 2012, another small study (8 men, about 25 years of age), noted that 1000 mg of alpha GPC enhanced not only growth hormone but fat burning ability too.
These are both very small studies -which only involved men. What about women? As such, I have questions about how well alpha GPC works. I think we need better studies.
Another name for this is “velvet bean.” As I outlined in my review of Triverex, a mucuna pruriens was shown to improve sperm count and mobility in infertile men.
In 2011 a study involving 15 men showed that mucuna pruriens – combined with an herb, called Chlorophytum borivilianum – raised HGH, compared to placebo. But, did mucuna pruinens do it by itself? Unknown.
Problems with this study include the fact that we don't know which raised HGH – mucuna pruriens or Chlorophytum borivilianum – and the researchers didn't tell us how much of each ingredient was used. They only told us the total added up to 2250 mg.
Another study, published in 2012, noted that this same combination of herbs improved sleep quality in 15 healthy men and women.
Another name for this is Shilajit. It has many other names as well. I am unable to find any growth hormone-related studies on this compound. I'm also not clear what extract is being used.
Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate
Another name for this compound is “OKG.” It is composed of the amino acid ornithine (see above for more on it) and alpha ketoglutarate, a molecule that helps us make energy. Given its relationship to helping make energy, and making nitric oxide I usually hear this compound touted to improve exercise ability.
In this small study, published in 2000, 10 grams of OKG or a placebo were given to 18 men who were used to strength training exercises. The study lasted 6 weeks. The researchers saw no change in growth hormone or insulin levels. With respect to strength improvements, the results were not clear given that bench press ability increased but the ability during the squat exercise did not.
If OKG really does raise HGH levels, I wonder if it might be most effective in sick people.
Ingredients With Evidence
Based on the evidence I could locate, here are the ingredients in GenF20 Plus that had some level of human evidence for their ability to raise HGH:
This is not to say I have total faith these these ingredients will work. Rather, these are the ingredients I could find human studies on (I think more evidence is needed for all of them). See the sections above for specific amounts used in research studies.
GenF20 Plus Vs SeroVital
SeroVital is another popular HGH supplement. As far as I'm aware, there are no studies that directly compare GenF20 Plus to SeroVital to see which might be best. While both have some ingredients in common, both supplements have ingredients the other does not have. See my review of SeroVital for more information.
Who Makes GenF20 Plus?
The company listed on the GenF20 Plus website is Leading Edge Marketing, also known as Leading Edge Health. They are located at Suite 100 – 645 Tyee Road British Columbia V9A 6X5, Canada. Their whois.com file lists this contact number: 250-412-8452. Another company name, listed with the Better Business Bureau is “Leading Edge Herbals.” Still another name is “leminternet.”
The BBB did not have a rating for Leading Edge Health when I reviewed this product. See the BBB file for updates and more information.
On the LeadingEdgeHealth.com website, two of the people on their Board of Advisors are Dr. Steven Lamm and Anna Lepeley. Both have endorsements of GenF20 Plus on the product website.
How Much Does It Cost?
When I checked the product website, a months supply of GenF20 cost $59.99. Buying from the product website also comes with a 100% money back guarantee (minus shipping and handling). They give people 67 days from the time it's delivered to try GenF20 risk free.
Here is also GenF20 Plus on Amazon
Starting the guarantee when the product is delivered is pretty nice. Many companies I've seen start the guarantee when the product is ordered, which reduces the time people have to try a product risk free. I'm glad to see the company doing this. It's rare.
How To Contact GenF20 Plus
- The product website lists this customer service number: 866-621-6886.
- To order GenF20: 866-269-3487.
- For international callers, they give this number: 604-677-5365.
GenF20-Plus Side Effects
If you are healthy, I think GenF20 Plus is probably pretty safe. Even the GenF20 clinical study did not note any significant side effects. For those not “healthy,” I believe it's wise to show the ingredients to your doctor and pharmacist to see if it's OK for you. As with all new supplements, it may be wise to begin by taking less than is recommend for the first week, to see how you, personally, respond.
Here is a short list of things to consider before taking this or any supplement:
- Don't take if your a pregnant or nursing.
- Stop taking at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
- If you take any medications, consult your doctor and pharmstist first.
- Don't combine GenF20 Plus with any other growth hormone enhancing supplements.
- If the product really does raise HGH /IGF-1 levels, then I believe it's wise to consult your doctor and pharmacist and/or dietitian if you have any health issues including but not limited to cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, diabetes and arthritis.
How To Naturally Raise HGH
Here are some ways to naturally raise HGH levels that do not involve supplements.
Sleep. It's well known that sleep is one natural way to raise HGH levels. The effect of sleep on growth hormone may be at least partially related to the hormone, melatonin which has been shown to increase HGH levels. Given that melatonin release is stimulated by darkness, using a sleep mask might help. Aim for 7-8 hours a night if possible.
Fasting . Reducing calories, has also been shown to enhance growth hormone levels. Reducing calorie intake (by about 25%) might also have other health properties. Animal experiments also hint that reducing calorie intake might even slow the aging process. For those who want more info on this, one popular book is The Fast Diet. Fast Diet
Working out. Exercise is well known to cause HGH release. Much buzz these days surrounds high intensity interval exercise (“HIIT”) and its effects on growth hormone levels, although I don't think a blanket statement can be made that high intensity exercise is best for everybody. For example, this study of couch potatoes found interval training didn't raise HGH levels.
Given the potential for more injuries – and rhabdomyolysis – I don't believe high intensity workouts are best for beginners. Rather, do a combination of strength training and cardio during a workout at a moderate pace.
With respect of which to do first – strength or cardio, either order will raise HGH levels. When it comes to raising testosterone levels though, performing cardio first may be better according to some research.
Protein. Eating protein has also been shown to increase growth hormone levels.
Some also advocate eating protein and carbs as soon as possible after exercise to maximize muscle mass (presumably by increasing testosterone, HGH and other hormones). This idea of “nutrient timing” is controversial in some circles. I currently don't feel most people have to worry about it. Just eat and let the body do the rest.
Does GenF20 Plus Work?
The GenF20 clinical study noted that the supplement raised growth hormone levels in people over the age of 40 – but not do in people younger than 40. The study also noted that – after 3 months of use – the people who received the placebo improved as much in weight loss, sleep quality, energy levels etc. -as people getting the supplement. To me, that doesn't make sense because you'd think those getting the supplement (with their higher HGH levels ) would improve more. Because of these odd results, I remain skeptical for the moment. Let's see what other studies show.
I know not everyone will believe my conclusions, and that is fine. We are all entitled to our opinion. For what its worth, I really hope the product works. The good news is that GenF20 Plus is touted to improve something that is measurable – growth hormone. As such, the best way to know if GenF20 works is to first get your growth hormone levels tested by your doctor before you try the product. Then, after using the product for a month, get your HGH level tested again. That is the only way to know for sure if GenF20 is working for you.Here is GenF20-Plus on Amazon