Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a glycoprotein substance consisting of 237 amino acids, 92 of which comprise the alpha subunit with the remaining 145 distributed to its beta subunit. It has a molecular mass of 5.7 kDa.
HCG and other glycoprotein hormones like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) luteinizing hormone (LH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) share a common alpha subunit and possess specific beta units unique to their G protein-linked receptors. HCG shares chemical similarity with LH and mimics its mechanical action, a relationship that has been useful in the development of medical therapies like assisted reproductive techniques and medical treatments of underdeveloped testes and inadequate testosterone levels. HCG binds to receptors on the Leydig cells, stimulating the production and release of testosterone in cases where the male is unable to produce normal levels of the hormone. Commonly known as the pregnancy hormone, HCG binds with the LHCG receptors of the ovary to maintain the corpus luteum and continue its progesterone production to support the implanting embryo. HCG performs a pivotal role in ensuring the viability of life in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The LH mimicking actions of HCG are applied in sports medicine to help athletes develop the desired muscle bulk and elevate testosterone production in cases where the body feedback mechanisms inhibit the luteinizing hormone from stimulating the secretion of the male hormone. HCG is popularly used as an adjunct to anabolic androgenic steroids, performance enhancing substances, which place the body on a negative feedback mode when injected in elevated levels. The body’s regulatory systems respond by shutting off the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, resulting in the cessation of testosterone secretion. HCG has been beneficial in the relief of side effects linked to steroids usage and prevents deterioration that may arise from testosterone deprivation, including testicular degeneration in size and functions.
HCG is widely used in fertility therapies. It increases the probability of ovulation and conception in women, and treats male sterility when the cause is inadequate testosterone levels.
In recent years, the world is buzzing with the revival of the HCG Diet popularized by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons, a British endocrinologist, who was the first doctor to recognize the function of the hormone in activating the hypothalamus to secrete excessive and abnormal fat deposits. Combining the low dose of the hormone to a 500-calorie per day diet, his study showed that the subjects lost fats instead of lean muscles. He endorsed the HCG Diet Protocol as a treatment for those who are suffering from obesity as it promotes rapid weight loss resulting from fat loss.
Side Effects of HCG Treatments
About 25% of women receiving HCG shots in fertility treatments experience mild forms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, and tenderness. There are rare cases of severe attacks, and symptoms may range from acute abdominal pain to serious breathing difficulties. Fluid retention and edema may also occur, as well as pain and tenderness in the breast. These side effects should end when the body learns to adjust to the HCG shots.
HCG injections can alter hormonal balance, affecting the mood of the patient as well as mental conditions. Irritability, restlessness, and depression are quite common.
Sources of HCG
The Human chorionic gonadotrophin preparations may be processed using the urinary source or through the recombinant DNA technology.
The universal availability of the urinary source makes it the sensible and preferred choice for the past decades. The process involves collecting traces of HCG in pregnant women’s urine, purifying, sanitizing, and processing the hormone into a potent preparation that’s fit for injection or administration into the body. Processing is done in an FDA-approved laboratory.
The HCG Diet Protocol – Is it Safe?
The HCG Diet Protocol is based on the model popularized by Dr. Simeons, with some modifications to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
There are now two available treatment options for the weight loss program – the HCG Drops and HCG Shots. Both are effective in treating obesity and promoting rapid weight loss when combined with very low calorie diets prescribed in the protocol.
The HCG shots typically require prescription and doctor’s supervision, which make it expensive and inconvenient for many.
The HCG drops are sublingual mixtures that may be administered at home by the patient himself, are affordable, and does not require prescription because it is not injected. The HCG drops have less, or none, of the side effects that are associated with HCG injections.
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