What are Peptides?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids. Amino Acids are the natural building blocks of proteins. Our bodies use these peptides as signaling molecules for biological pathways to initiate activity in those pathways. The use of peptides as a supplement will help stimulate these same functions and in the same way that naturally occurring peptides will have in those target areas
Our body is completely familiar with peptides as it uses them for many biological functions. Their effects are specific and generally without side-effects as they are naturally found throughout our body and their metabolic pathways are already in place.
Supplemental peptides are bio-identical, having the exact structure of peptides already created by our own body, but sometimes due to diet indiscretions or genetics, they are in inadequate amounts for necessary optimal function. Supplementation bridges this gap, promoting optimal function.
The body uses a vast array of highly specific signaling peptides to regulate different functions of tissues throughout the body. Thus, peptide therapy offers the potential to achieve specific responses of select tissues rather than less precise and broad effects of hormone therapy or trying to achieve a desired effect by altering physiologic processes with medications.
In addition, many commonly used peptides have been found to have no side effects even when given at doses 1000 times the usual dose, which is unheard of with any medication.
Peptides control and modulate most systems in your body, including hormone production, immune function, the sleep cycle, the production of inflammatory mediators, DNA replication, cell division and renewal, cancer cell destruction and apoptosis, libido and sexual arousal, weight loss, lean muscle gain, mitochondrial function, cognitive function, mood, energy and other metabolic activities, tissue healing and specific biological functioning of the brain, skin, eyes, urinary and reproductive systems, aging and longevity, and many more.
- Peptides regulate most every known process and system in the body
- Peptide therapies generally have tissue-specific effects while hormones have less precise with broad effects
- Shown to be extremely safe
- Most peptides are the same as naturally produced in the body but a few are synthetically produced
The categories of Peptides and where they work
- Immune & thymic modulating peptides
- Brain peptides
- Sleep supporting peptides
- Growth hormone secretagogue peptides
- Antimicrobial peptides
- Rejuvenation & pain reducing peptides
- Mitochondrial & energy enhancing peptides
- Melanotropic (melanin/tanning) peptides
Our thymus gland is intimately involved in immune activation. The function of the thymus cannot be overstated. Yet its function begins to slowly decrease throughout our 20s and 30s and reaches its lowest level of activity in our early 40s – about the time we start to see the onset of chronic degenerative diseases in many individuals. Thymic function stays at
About 10% of our peak production (early in life) for the remainder of our lives. This results in some unfortunate consequences for us, including:
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Inadequate immune response to vaccinations
- Increased cancer risk
- Increased cardiovascular disease
- Increased autoimmune and degenerative diseases
Using thymic peptides practitioners have found that these marvelous peptides will:
- Modulate the immune response to produce a balanced immune system, particularly reducing any inflammatory proinflammatory cytokines or enhancing them as needed individually
- Providing significant repair, restoring, and healing activity
- Improving the function of the mitochondria with increased ATP or energy production
- They directly support cellular function and induce normal gene function
- Stimulation of wound healing, and proper stem cell function and proliferation
- Stimulation of white blood cell activity and the removal of toxins and waste material from the cell
- They work to support and maintain a healthy GI mucosa and blood brain barrier. This works to protect against a leaky gut and a leaky brain – keeping unwanted toxic material out of the blood and the brain
- Calms excessive inflammation in the brain from overactive microglial cells and binding or blocking neurotoxins, endotoxins and electromagnetic toxins
- They improve Natural Killer cell production – critical to our immune system
One of those Thymic peptides being used by clinicians, Thymosin Beta 4 Fragment, is composed of only 4 amino acids; yet that little peptide fights excess clotting (often seen in chronic disease), is anti-inflammatory, supports cellular healing and stimulates the production of blood vessels. But it’s wide-ranging activity is also known to do the following:
- Lowers inflammation
- Gut repair
- Induces autophagy
- Calms muscle spasm/ cardiac injury
- Improved muscle tone
- Increased exchange of substances between cells
- Encourages tissue repair
- Stretches connective tissue
- Helps maintain flexibility
- Reduced inflammation of tissue in joints
- Encourages the growth of new blood cells
- Increased endurance and strength
- Promotes hair growth
- Protects and supports liver
- Antiviral/ kills Lyme cysts – herpes
- Skin repair/healing
- Balances immune-regulatory system
- Prevents the formation of adhesions and fibrous bands in muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- promotes cardiomyocyte migration, survival, and repair, and the pathway it regulates may be a new therapeutic target in the setting of acute myocardial damage.
In addition, doctors have found it helpful as a restorative and regenerative therapy for neurological injury and degenerative diseases. That would include a great number of these health problems
Of further interest is that in animal studies, the use of thymic and pineal gland peptides was found to increase the maximum lifespan in those animals when compared to control animals. In addition, they were found to have stronger immune systems with reduced rates of cancer
One lifestyle habit of so many in the western world is not giving themselves adequate time to sleep – cutting the time of sleep sometimes on both ends. For others it is just a problem with insomnia – they would like to sleep but can’t. And yet one of the most important needs for our health is adequate sleep, 7-9 hours daily. So, it may not be surprising then that a couple of the sleep peptides are having a profound impact on the individuals using them. The benefits improve the levels of neurotransmitters as well as melatonin and the benefits that naturally come with improved deep sleep. These include:
- Increase in pineal gland synthesis of serotonin and melatonin
- Increases in telomere length (increase in telomere length equates to longer life)
- Reduced ageing of the reproductive system and increases fertility in older female rats
- Improves T4 to T3 conversion of thyroid hormones (inactive to active)
- Improves glucose tolerance and decreases insulin resistance
- Slows aging and increases longevity
- Protects against senescent cells (cells that are no longer dividing) and cancer
- Activates gene expression and protein synthesis in specific tissues
One physician suggested that these may be “one of the best anti-aging substances we know of”, and here is why.
These two peptides were investigated over a 6–8 year period in 266 elderly patients and were only treated in the first two to three years of the study. The results showed convincingly of their ability to normalize basic functions of the human organism. The effects seemed to be protracted long after their use was discontinued, resulting in a 2-2.4 fold decrease in acute respiratory disease incidence, reduced incidence of clinical manifestations of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, deforming osteoarthritis and osteoporosis as compared to controls.
A separate group of patients was treated with peptides annually for the entire 6 years and their mortality rate was ¼ that of the control group
The Delta Sleep Inducing Peptide (DSIP) is a neuropeptide discovered by the Swiss during the 1970’s. DSIP has been found in various areas throughout the body such as the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands.
This is a really interesting compound which mainly aids in helping sleep disorders. However, it’s still being studied nearly 40 years after its initial discovery. The most common use for DSIP is as a sleep aid which allows for deeper sleep. However, this isn’t some over the counter supplement like melatonin or some herbal tea. This peptide is on a whole other level.
Most users report having a massive improvement in memory function throughout the day. This is likely because the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep is where our brain begins to do the most repair work. This is also the critical time when the brain sifts through our experiences through the day and ‘cleans out the hard drive’ to decide what to keep and discard from our memories of that day. DSIP is often paired with another peptide to gain the maximum sleep effect
Having the proper quality of sleep allows for proper healing and repair for our brain. This peptide has been shown to allow those suffering from poor sleep to perform cognitive tasks much better.
Also, keep in mind that much of our growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland during sleep. So, one could theorize an increase in GH output and healing due to these deeper sleep patterns.
Remember, while the growth hormone is essential for the growth of children. In adults it is involved in the repair functions of the body. In addition, it is during our deep sleep that the cleansing of brain toxins take place.
So, with the use of these peptides and improved sleep, one might expect to see:
- Deceases cortisol levels
- Stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH)
- Increases the release of Grow Hormone
- Releasing Hormone (GHRH)
- Normalizes blood pressure
- Studies in mice have suggested that it could have antioxidant effects
- Shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties by reducing tumor sizes in mice
- People with major depressive disorders were shown to have significantly lower levels of DSIP.
- This suggest that DSIP could help with depression.
- Experiments suggest that DSIP could be helpful in treating alcohol and opiate dependency.
- Research is being carried out to use DSIP as a treatment for sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy and insomnia.
Not everyone will benefit from this peptide and studies have found this to be true. Thus, it may be that when combined with other modalities a more positive experience may be realized. So, some practitioners combine DISP with Epitalon or another peptide, CJC, an analogue of growth hormone.
Body Protection Compound peptide
One of the most commonly used peptides used by Functional doctors is the Body Protection Compound. This jewel of a peptide, of only 15 amino acids, seems to make every other natural healing modality just work better.
It was originally discovered and isolated from human gastric juice and strangely, is resistant to breaking apart even in the gastric juice. It is known to have a wide range of healing modalities, including supporting the production of nitric oxide modulating neurotransmitter levels, and having positive effects toward the intestinal microbiome, the gut-brain axis and protecting against leaky gut. However, the benefits may extend to include, gastritis/GERD, gastric ulcers, SIBO and food intolerances.
In addition, this BPC peptide improves cardiovascular function and is protective against the toxic effects of EMFs. The medical literature indicates it having benefits in:
- Heart failure
- Hypotension or hypertension
- Post heart attack cardiac damage
- Arrhythmias and vascular repair
In the nervous system practitioners and researchers have found it beneficial in the treatment of central and peripheral nervous system pathologies, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral nerve damage
- Mood disorders including anxiety and depression
The Body Protection Compound assists the body in the repair of tendons, muscles, intestines, and bones – all of the areas where so many individuals are dealing with chronic symptoms and not seeming to improve. If you have a hard time with wound healing, we can certainly call on this peptide for assistance and expect to be helped.
Many practitioners are finding that our brain is benefited with nutritional supplements called Neuotrophins or nootropics. Nootropics are compounds or supplements that enhance cognitive performance. Some docs use this term for so-called smart drugs.
The identification of new compounds with neurotrophic properties is becoming a new strategy for the prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. One of these peptides, Cerebrolysin, is currently approved for use in 44 countries as a treatment for dementia and stroke. Research studies and its use in medical practice has revealed:
- It is indeed a neurotropic with repair properties
- Penetrates the blood brain barrier and is neuroprotective
- Stimulates both the central and peripheral nerve growth factors
- Has been found to be very helpful in autism and Asperger’s syndrome at very low doses
- It has been found beneficial for traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, and stroke patients
Other nootropic peptides have also been found to have similar activities, but will also
- Shield neurons from neurotoxins, inflammation and injury
- Protect against stress effects and depression
- Seems to benefit learning and memory function
- Interact with and support a balanced neurotransmitter function
- Works to regenerate neurological damage in Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and toxin induced brain dysfunction
Many functional health practitioners are seen an increasing number of patients having symptoms of mast cell activation.
Mast cell activation is an immunological condition in which mast cells, a type of white blood cell, inappropriately and excessively release chemical mediators, resulting in a wide range of chronic symptoms, which can be as severe as anaphylaxis or near-anaphylaxis attacks, but more likely include flushing, itching, diarrhea, shortness of breath, brain fog, skin lesions, joint swelling hives and many others.
Primary organ system involved include cardiovascular, dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological and respiratory systems. Because of their nature it can cause a lot of anxiety and panic in individuals affected.
Several of the peptides have immune modulating activity and will calm down excessive stimulation of these cells. Even one of the Melanocortins, KPV, and one of the rejuvenating/pain peptides are potent immune modulators, reducing inflammation and inhibiting this mast cell activation, while promoting a healing response.
Beyond the mast cell activity reduction, they tend to stimulate weight loss, reduce insulin and leptin resistance. But they go even deeper in their activity, enhancing restful sleep and gut health, lowering depression, while lessening risk of elevated blood sugar
More on KPV
This relatively newer tripeptide is an alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone. New research on hormones in this class have shown immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory effects of these peptides. KPV has a multitude of uses on the auto-immune side as well as the anti-inflammatory side
KPV works very well as a topical cream for things such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. In an oral form, it can help with ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, but also for:
- Cystic acne
- Acne in general
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Potential help with multiple sclerosis
- inflammatory skin and eye conditions
- allergic asthma
- decreases Mast cell activation
Peptides for sexual health
One area of health that some are reluctant to discuss but is a problem in a huge percentage of adults of both sexes, is that of dysfunctional sexual health. It can be a problem not just in the geriatric population but is now being seen in young adults as well.
Turning to the PDES inhibitor drugs like Viagra or Cialis is helpful only for some men but not for women. The most common complaints are of erectile dysfunction and loss of libido. In fact, in the older pool of premenopausal women, approximately 6 million suffer from hypoactive sexual desire. But if I were making a guess on this, my bet would be that that figure is much, much higher. And for that group of women the melanocortin peptide PT-141, should be given a try.
With close to 20 million males affected by ED, this peptide is well worth a trial run. Many men report a dramatic improvement to their ED.
The PT-141 peptide has been helpful to both men and women and works by activating your dopamine hormone to enhance sexual performance and motivation. Unlike Cialis or Viagra, which works on the nitric oxide level in the vascular system, this peptide acts on the nervous system, via activation of the neurons in the hypothalamus to increase sexual desire, with a rather high rate of success in both males and females, providing users the following:
- Increase in libido levels
- Elevated degrees of sexual gratification
- Enhanced vigor and sexual desire
- Strengthened penile erections
- Skin tanning
- Mood enhancement
- Possible improvement in neuropathy
While side effects of peptides are rare, this peptide can have the effect of causing mild headaches or nausea in about 5-10% of users. Sometimes flushing can occur as well. Of course tanning of the skin may be preferred by some but not others
More on Nootropics
Selank and Semax are both nootropics (cognitive enhancer) that were developed in Russia. In some cases, they can be used for similar purposes. Selank is an anxiolytic peptide that minimizes the harsh effects of stress and it is known to have fewer side effects when compared to Semax.
Selank and Semax are both potentially amazing cognitive enhancers. Semax is more potent in enhancing cognition and depression. Selank, on the other hand, shows better results when used for anti-anxiety purposes.
Selank is an anxiolytic peptide, which helps combat stress and anxiety. A study with a randomized controlled trial of 62 patients found out that those who took Selank had fewer symptoms of anxiety. One promising caveat observed in the same study is the greater decrease in those participants with pre-existing anxiety disorders.
This similar effect was observed in another randomized controlled trial with 60 anxiety and phobia patients.
May Improve Learning Ability
One study in mice showed Selank’s capability to improve learning ability within three days. The subjects treated with the peptide learned quicker on an electrical test.
May Help with Brain Damage Recovery
Researchers found Selank to restore the brain activity of mice with toxin-induced brain damage to normal levels.
May Help with Blood Pressure Management and Increase Brain Blood Flow
Selank decreased the blood pressure of sedated cat subjects by about 30% for 3 minutes in one study. It also increased the cats’ brain blood flow by about 24% for up to 10 minutes.
May Help with Weight Loss
Researchers found that when treated with Selank, high-fat-fed mice gained 35% less weight.
Helps Reduce Stress
Stress can be caused by a lot of different things, and the body reacts to it in various ways, as well. For instance, some bodies respond to stress by increasing the production of liver enzymes. One study conducted on rats showed that Selank reduced liver enzyme production.
May Help with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by muscular rigidity, slow and imprecise movement, and tremors. Clinical trials found significant results, such as:
- Improved mood
- Decreased tremors
- Better sleep quality
- Decreased tearfulness
- Lively reflexes
Although it contains a stabilizing protein sequence, Selank’s half-life is only two minutes—after 10 minutes, it becomes completely untraceable in the bloodstream. This opens the question of whether the peptide can really have long-lasting effects. However, doctors using it still find it to benefit patients using it.
Semax has undergone extensive study in Russia and is on the Russian List of Vital & Essential Drugs approved by the Russian Federation government on December 7, 2011. Medical uses for Semax include treatment of stroke, transient ischemic attack, memory and cognitive disorders, peptic ulcers, optic nerve disease, and to boost the immune system.
- Increased brain BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) levels and memory
- one small-scale Russian study in healthy male users, Semax was reported to increase memory and attention during “extreme” or “highly-demanding” tasks. However, the details of this study are not available in English, and so the size and overall significance of these reported effects remain unknown
- The memory effect may in part be due to mechanisms such as improved brain circulation and increased resistance to oxidative stress.
- Some research also suggests that BDNF levels can influence mood, and that low levels of BDNF in the brain may be involved in the development of psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety.
- Neuroprotective/cardioprotective activity
- it may help partially protect the brain from various types of stress and damage, such as from oxidative stress, inflammation, or possibly even adverse cardiovascular events, such as strokes.
- In rats, Semax has been reported to protect the heart from damage after a stroke or heart attack. This study also reported that the drug may have prevented the excessive growth (hypertrophy) of the heart caused by elevated blood pressure (hypertension), which the authors propose may suggest a protective effect on the risk of additional future cardiovascular events
- Reduced breakdown of enkephalins
- Enkephalins are compounds which are believed to be involved in reducing pain (e.g. by stimulating the brain’s opioid system). Early finding has led some researchers to suggest that Semax may have some potential as a pain reliever by inhibiting the breakdown of enkephalins, although much more research would be needed
- Protecting the nervous system and body organs from oxidative damage
- Semax has been reported to have a number of effects that may potentially be helpful in the treatment of ADHD, such as increasing attention and memory, as well as increasing the levels of a variety of neurotransmitters that are often reported to be lower in patients with ADHD (such as dopamine) .
- Based on these early findings, some researchers have proposed evaluating Semax as a treatment for ADHD. In fact, some anecdotal evidence suggests that Semax is already occasionally used in Russia for this purpose (even though this medical application has not been officially approved)
- Affecting the expression of certain genes related to the immune and vascular systems
Cerebrolysin – CerebroPep is by far one of the most well-studied peptides for treating neurodegenerative diseases, let alone as a medical treatment option. With cognitive decline on the rise, while manifesting in many different types of diseases, it is more imperative than ever to fully optimize our brain health.
A mixture of free L-amino acids and neuropeptides, CerebroPep also contains nerve growth factor, ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The low-weight neuropeptides are no larger than 10,000 Daltons, which explains why Cerebrolysin can effectively penetrate the blood-brain barrier and directly exert its effects on the brain
Cerebrolysin contains natural neuropeptides that stimulate protein synthesis and neuron growth, support their functions, and help them to communicate with each other.
The peptide restores damaged neurons and slows down neuron damage while protecting them from the onset of unwanted symptoms, which explains Cerebrolysin’s ability to simultaneously tackle multiple domains of neurodegeneration
- Effective for Cognitive Recovery From Strokes
- Help speed Up Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Improves Measures of Cognitive Function in Dementia Patients
- Can give adjunctive support in Alzheimer’s Disease
- Might Be a Worthwhile Therapeutic Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- May Be Effective in Treating ADD / ADHD
- Shows Potential For helping Parkinson’s Disease patients improve function
- May Address Disease complications of Diabetes (cardiovascular disease, organ damage (eyes, kidney, etc.), diabetic neuropathy and impaired mental health.
- Could Improve Mental Functioning in Autistic Children
- Demonstrates Cognition-Enhancing Properties
Practitioners in the functional medicine community are using quite a variety of peptides in their practice. I have only presented a few in this article… but you get the picture that they are immensely helpful. Some report that it has been so helpful that they did not know how they practiced without them previously and that they would never want to not have them available for patient care.
It should be understood that not everyone will experience the benefits associated with the peptides above. Generally, side-effects are mild and not common, even rare. So, most individuals will likely have no side-effects at all.
In addition, these peptides are not to be a substitute for sound medical advice and treatment from your PCP. They are not a treatment for disease but will support the efforts of your body to heal itself. Your body does all the healing. Any supportive supplement or peptide will help the body in its efforts but in the end, it is your immune and other systems, given the nutrients that it needs, that actually heals.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician.
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