There are few hormones that incite as much discussion and debate as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Many will know it as the ‘pregnancy hormone’, measured in early pregnancy tests or as part of fertility protocols to stimulate ovulation. More controversially, it is at the heart of the infamous hCG weight-loss protocol developed and popularized by Dr. Albert Simeons in his 1954 book Pounds and Inches – a protocol which pairs hCG injections with high-calorie restriction to stimulate fast and acute weight loss. In the athletic sphere, it has also gained notoriety as a popular muscle and stamina-boosting hormone that is now tested during doping screenings.
With so much myth and misunderstanding surrounding this hormone, here’s a topline summary of its use, benefits and function, straight from our expert pharmacists at VLS Pharmacy:
First, what is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)?
hCG is an acidic glycoprotein hormone that is produced by the placenta after pregnancy implantation (which is why it can be detected in some pregnancy tests). It is also produced by some cancerous tumors, so its presence in individuals who are not pregnant or taking it for other conditions, may flag a cancer diagnosis.
hCG has become particularly valuable in medicine because it mimics two key endogenous gonadotropins in the body: luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Both LH and FH are synthesized and secreted by the gonadotropic cells of the anterior pituitary gland which helps regulate the pubertal maturation and reproductive processes of the body as well as ovulation and testicular production. Today, hCG is FDA-approved for select cases of hypogonadism in men and women – and is often used for female fertility treatment and as part of male hormone replacement therapy.
What are the uses of hCG for men and women?
In women, hCG can replicate LH which helps trigger ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum (which is linked to the secretion of progesterone from the endocrine systems and help prepare the uterus for pregnancy). This hormone also helps the breakdown of fat to support the nutritional needs of the fetus. Because hCG is so similar to the structure and function of LH, we frequently see it being used as an injection to stimulate ovulation, either as a medical procedure in its own right or as part of intrauterine inseminations or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The LH in men controls the production and synthesis of testosterone and spermatogenesis in the Leydig cells. Again, because hCG mimics the LH, the hormone is often prescribed as an adjunct to testosterone replacement therapy; it not only can help men feel better until the testosterone replacement kicks in but simultaneously helps to boost their own endogenous testosterone production.
Can compound hCG be used for weight loss?
Unsurprisingly, the conversation around hCG frequently turns to its application as a weight loss ‘aid’, metabolism booster and appetite suppressant.
Starting with Dr. Simeons in the 1950s until today, the use and popularity of hCG for weight loss has seen its ups and its downs. On one hand, there is understandable concern around the safety of the Simeons protocol which combines hCG injections with calorie restrictions to the tune of 500 to 1,000 calories a day to accelerate weight loss. Extreme calorie restriction can have dangerous side effects and there is always a concern around rebound weight gain. To add to this, there is no shortage of ‘homeopathic’ or other commercially-available hCG products which are touted as weight loss aids, which are more than likely not pure or bioavailable, but are technically illegal as hCG is not approved for OTC use.
All of this aside, hCG still remains very effective at helping the body shed fat versus muscle as part of a weight loss regimen which can help many patients overcome debilitating excess weight and weight-related health concerns.
Where to buy compounded hCG:
hCG is first and foremost a controlled substance. As a result, patients and physicians should be wary of anything that is made available without a prescription or administered without a licensed practitioner. At our pharmacy, we exclusively fulfill patient-specific prescriptions approved by the prescribing practitioner. Learn more about why that’s important here.
What hCG do we compound at VLS Pharmacy?
- hCG injectable solution
- hCG sublingual troches
- hCG sublingual solution
- hCG nasal spray
- hCG topical cream – used to ward off cravings