Sounds crazy, right?
The crazy land of da internetZ sayZ “yeah bro, a biohacker told me so it must be right!” cough cough.
In this case, the biohackers got one right. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
It turns out that heat from a sauna does increase growth hormone (GH)…
… by a metric piss ton.
Easily over 1,000%.
There is a metric-piss-ton of data to confirm this (1-8).
In one study (9), there was up to a 16X increase in GH from sauna.
Yes, this was done in humans and not fuzzy 1-eyed 3-legged grey aging ferrets.
Impressed you are, hrmmmmmm?
Now the key question that may be raining down on your GH-fueled biohacking sauna purchase en route to ripped-ville in 17.3 days is …
...does that amount of GH have any physiologic effect?
16X must right?
Sorry, Charlie. The reality is that it appears to do all of jack and sheeeeet both in terms of effects on mo’ muscle or body comp.
While GH is important for health, the spike from the heat and exercise is so short that it does not have much of any physiologic impact, as demonstrated by a study from Dr David West (10).
I will take some free GH from the sauna and exercise for sure, and I do really like heat (sauna) for other adaptations that I cover in the Phys Flex Cert, but don’t bank on the GH release from heat to get you shredded in record time
Much love and science,
PS – if you want real science combined with practical knowledge on breathe work, sauna, cold water immersion and much much more, the Phys Flex Cert is for you!
- Sirvio J, Jolkkonen J, Pitkanen A. Adenohypophyseal hormone levels during hyperthermia. Endocrinologie. 1987;25(1):21-3.
- Dore S, Brisson GR, Fournier A, Montpetit R, Perrault H, Boisvert D. Contribution of hGH20K variant to blood hGH response in sauna and exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1991;62(2):130-4.
- Jezova D, Radikova Z, Vigas M. Growth hormone response to different consecutive stress stimuli in healthy men: is there any difference? Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2007;10(2):205-11
- Lammintausta R, Syvalahti E, Pekkarinen A. Change in hormones reflecting sympathetic activity in the Finnish sauna. Annals of clinical research. 1976;8(4):266-71.
- Leppaluoto J, Tapanainen P, Knip M. Heat exposure elevates plasma immunoreactive growth hormone-releasing hormone levels in man. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 1987;65(5):1035-8.
- Meder R, Geisen K. [Heat-induced secretion of somatotropin in man]. Zeitschrift fur Kinderheilkunde. 1970;108(4):297-304.
- Kukkonen-Harjula K, Kauppinen K. How the sauna affects the endocrine system. Annals of clinical research. 1988;20(4):262-6.
- Adlercreutz H, Kuoppasalmi K, Narvanen S, Kosunen K, Heikkinen R. Use of hypnosis in studies of the effect of stress on cardiovascular function and hormones. Acta medica Scandinavica Supplementum.
- Leppäluoto J, Huttunen P, Hirvonen J, Väänänen A, Tuominen M, Vuori J. Endocrine effects of repeated sauna bathing. Acta Physiol Scand. 1986 Nov;128(3):467-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1986.tb08000.x. PMID: 3788622.
- West DW, Kujbida GW, Moore DR, Atherton P, Burd NA, Padzik JP, De Lisio M, Tang JE, Parise G, Rennie MJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Resistance exercise-induced increases in putative anabolic hormones do not enhance muscle protein synthesis or intracellular signalling in young men. J Physiol. 2009 Nov 1;587(Pt 21):5239-47. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.177220. Epub 2009 Sep 7. PMID: 19736298; PMCID: PMC2790261.
Mike T Nelson CISSN, CSCS, MSME, PhD
Associate Professor, Carrick Institute
Owner, Extreme Human Performance,
LLC Editorial Board Member, STRONG Fitness Mag
Mike T Nelson is a PhD and not a physician or registered dietitian. The contents of this email should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem - nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health.