Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
There’s been a lot of consumer interest recently in a new supplement brand called Novex Biotech, which released a product called GF9 which claims to increase growth hormone (GH) levels by up to 682%. The claim seems outlandish on its face, so we wanted to conduct a research-based analysis to assess whether consumers can really expect to see such a significant GH increase by taking this product.
In this review we’ll assess the team’s credentials (or lack thereof), the product formulation, and the medical literature backing the product formulation and conclude whether consumers can reasonably expect to achieve such a massive increase in GH levels by regularly supplementing GF9.
No Public Team
The first red flag about the Novex Biotech site is they have no public team page. Where are all of the scientists working on these formulations? Where is the information about the founder(s)?
If the company had properly credentialed team members, they would likely want to highlight them somewhere on their site as it increases consumer trust, so we can assume that there are no scientists or medical researchers on staff. For me personally as a consumer, I’d rather see a team of scientists backing a medical claim of 6x GH increase rather than photos of their brand ambassador Shaq, who is a great marketer but has no medical background.
Our Team has two MDs and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry, and we strive to be totally transparent not only with product formulations and research, but also with the team and company values.
GF9’s supplement facts panel shows a proprietary blend of 2.9 grams. This is another red flag: companies that are transparent about their ingredients will tell the consumer exactly how much of each active ingredient is in the formulation. Without dosages for each active ingredient, consumers cannot independently verify whether they’re getting an efficacious dose.
Because prop blends don’t require publication of dose amounts, companies will often include miniscule amounts of exotic ingredients to try to deceive consumers into believing these ingredients exist in substantial amounts and are important to the effectiveness of the formulation.
As an example, a supplement company could release a pre-workout supplement with a prop blend containing 5 g creatine monohydrate (effective dose), 200 mg caffeine anhydrous (effective dose), 0.1 mg saffron extract (worthless dose) and 0.1 mg blueberry powder extract (worthless dose). The supplement facts panel wouldn’t show how miniscule the secondary ingredient doses are, or that those two “exotic” ingredients have no impact on sports performance, so consumers would be misled into believing they were important to the overall formulation, when in reality the creatine and caffeine caused all of the performance benefits.
Novex Biotech’s inclusion of Schizonepeta powder in the GF9 formulation is a perfect example of this sort of behavior. This herbal ingredient, also called Japanese catnip, has no proven efficacious dose for GH modulation. It’s mostly been studied for its potential to treat colds and skin rashes (with limited success). So why would it be included in a supplement formulated to increase growth hormone other than to deceive consumers into believing they’re getting some “exotic” blend they couldn’t get elsewhere?
Novex Biotech’s claim that their product GF9 increases growth hormone by upwards of 700% comes from one study in the Journal of Therapeutics. This study claims no conflict of interest, but was funded by a company in Salt Lake City Utah called Sierra Research Group LLC. Novex Biotech is based in Salt Lake City Utah.
Is it a massive coincidence that an LLC with no website or public information would decide to spend time and money publishing a favorable study for a company in the same city, or is it likely that there is a business arrangement between the two entities? I’ll leave you the reader to decide.
The study itself only included 16 participants which is a small sample size, and has not been replicated.
There are other studies that have investigated amino acid supplementation and its short-term effects on GH, and they’ve shown mixed results. One study showed no effect on GH during exercise but a transient effect on GH in resting subjects. Another study showed a modest increase in GH after arginine supplementation that was nearly 3x higher dosage (7g) than the entire GF9 prop blend dosage. A clinical trial found that arginine supplementation at doses factors higher than the GF9 prop blend led to an average increase in GH of 60% higher during sleep.
Amino acid supplementation can potentially cause a transient increase in GH at rest, but there is no evidence to indicate that this increase is sustained. For a regular person, paying money for a supplement that increases your GH briefly at 90 minutes, but has little effect at 15 minutes or 360 minutes is pointless in our opinion. There is no reason to believe that taking prop blends with relatively small doses of amino acids will cause GH increase throughout a day or week, because there is no medical research proving so.
Most research on amino acids for pre-workout benefits involve their capacity to increase nitric oxide production, as we covered in our review of citrulline malate benefits, and this performance benefit of certain amino acids is much more well-established in medical literature than GH increase.
Further, the claimed increase of 600+% GH has not been replicated in any other medical research, even at much higher doses of similar compounds. For that reason, we find it unlikely that GF9 has the claimed effect, even transiently, especially given the study design and funding issues.
If you're interested in workout supplements you should also check out our Gorilla Mind review. The brand is more effectively formulated than GF9 but has its own interesting set of problems.