What are Peptides?
Peptides are a class of molecules that have gained significant attention in recent years for their potential impact on health and longevity. Peptides are strings of amino acids that provide various benefits to the body. When organized in a group of 50+, these peptides form a protein.
Peptides have different lengths of amino acids and the ones that are especially interesting for their age and disease reversal effects are short-chain peptides, also called bioregulators. Peptides will actually influence your genome by turning on or off genes. They act as hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes in your body.
Peptides are widely used within the medical community not only for physical and athletic performance and recovery, but also for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
If peptides are proteins, why not call them proteins?
Not exactly: amino acids create peptides and peptides create proteins. So you need the amino acids first to make peptides and then your body can make proteins. I always talk about proteins and cholesterol being the building blocks for your body’s hormone production. Peptides are similar in a sense that they provide the building blocks for your body to make proteins.
Couldn’t you just supplement with amino acids rather than taking out the big guns? That was a question that popped into my head anyways…
These peptide drugs are no longer simply hormone mimics or composed simply of natural amino acids.
For example, enfuvirtide is a 36-amino acid biomimetic peptide mimicking human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) proteins used in combination therapy for the treatment of HIV-1 Source
Or, liraglutide is a chemically synthesized analogue of human glucagon-like peptide 1(GLP-1) made by attaching a C-16 fatty acid (palmitic acid) with a glutamic acid spacer on lysine residue (position 26 in the sequence), which acts as a GLP-1 receptor agonist to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
All these peptide drugs have been used in a wide range of therapeutic areas, such as urology, respiratory, pain, oncology, metabolic, cardiovascular, and antimicrobial applications. To date, more than 170 peptides are in active clinical development, with many more in preclinical studies.
How do you get peptides and what to consider?
First off, your body makes peptides from amino acids as you just learned. So a diet high in protein is the base for providing your body with the nutrients to make peptides. But as I said, this process slows down with aging, so supplementing can be beneficial, especially if you have a chronic disease or injury.
Some peptides are readily available in skincare products and over-the-counter supplements. You’ll find them in fitness drinks or protein powders as well as anti-aging creams. What I want to talk about here mainly, are prescription peptides to target a specific health issue.
Scientists have discovered over 7,000 different kinds of naturally occurring peptides so far. Scientists are very interested in using peptide-based medicines to treat diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and cancer. While the potential benefits of peptides on health and longevity are very promising, you should note that there’s not a lot of research yet and organizations like the FDA have only started to approve them. It's also important to note that not all peptides are created equal, and some may be more effective than others. Make sure they are FDA or Research Approved and that the product has been tested by 3rd parties.
If you're interested in exploring the potential benefits of peptides, it's important to work with a healthcare professional who can guide you in choosing the right peptides and dosages for your individual needs.
Which peptides should you consider supplementing with?
Let’s have a look at some of the main peptides and you’ll see, you actually know some of them or are already taking some of them like collagen or whey protein for instance…
I’m pretty sure you know this one too: human growth hormone (HGH), it’s a peptide or hormone that is naturally produced by your pituitary gland in the brain. Growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRPs) are peptides that stimulate the release of human growth hormone (HGH) from the pituitary gland. HGH plays a key role in growth and development, and levels naturally decline as we age. Supplementing with HGH has been shown to improve muscle mass, reduce body fat, improve bone density, and support overall health and well-being.
Pinealon is a peptide complex with amino acids that can normalize certain brain functions. It acts on the pineal gland which is involved in functions of all glands in your body. If you had to choose just one, this would be it, as it can help restore communication with your pancreas, ovaries, adrenals, thyroid, release of growth hormone, etc. In clinical research it was found to be useful with brain injuries, stroke, brain operations and age-related brain problems or also called neurodegenerative diseases (especially if used together with Vesugen, a complex that activates microcirculation Source).
Pinealon has also been found to improve physical strength.
Collagen peptides: Collagen is a protein that is found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of the body. Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids derived from collagen, and they have been shown to improve skin health, promote healthy hair and nails, support joint health, and aid in digestive health. If used as an injection,collagen peptides can be more efficient in helping with joint issues rather than consuming collagen. Collagen is found in connective tissues, cartilage, and skin, so it’s a more natural and productive way to boost healing. As I mentioned in a former blogpost about skin, your collagen production is declining by 1% each year from 30 years on.
Epitalon: Epitalon is a synthetic peptide that has been shown to increase telomerase activity, which is an enzyme that protects and maintains the ends of DNA strands. This can potentially slow down the aging process and improve overall health. It’s been widely used in skin care to prevent the appearance for wrinkles.
Melanotan II: Melanotan II is a synthetic peptide that has been shown to increase skin pigmentation and reduce the risk of sunburn. It may also have potential as a treatment for sexual dysfunction and certain types of skin cancer.
Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone and peptide that plays a key role in social bonding, trust, and relaxation. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being. You can naturally stimulate Oxytocin with body contact like hugging, skin to skin contact, sex, breast feeding by the way
Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that has been shown to increase muscle endurance and reduce fatigue during exercise.
Whey protein peptides: Whey protein peptides are short chains of amino acids derived from whey protein, and they have been shown to improve muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness, and support overall health and well-being.
BPC 157 is a protein that promotes wound healing and can provide natural pain relief.
It has also been studied for its potential gut health benefits. Some studies suggest that BPC 157 may help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can improve overall gut health. Additionally, BPC 157 may help to support the integrity of the gut lining and protect against damage from harmful substances.
GHK-Cu: GHK’s ability to improve tissue repair has been demonstrated for skin, lung connective tissue, boney tissue, liver, and stomach lining.
GHK has also been found to possess powerful cell protective actions, such as multiple anti-cancer activities and anti-inflammatory actions, lung protection and restoration of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fibroblasts, anti-anxiety, anti-pain and anti-aggression activities, DNA repair, and activation of cell cleansing. Source
Follistatin supports cell turnover and muscle repair
It 5-Amino-1MQ: A newer peptide that has promising effects for weight loss
Sermorelin injections may help to improve sleep, strengthen bones, and lower cholesterol.
Since many peptides are anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that peptide therapy can help reduce inflammation in the brain - gradually relieving brain fog in some patients.
One exciting study shows the peptide Dihexa as a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The peptide Selank may be used, alongside brain retraining, to rewire neurological pathways and relieve anxiety and mental stress.
What forms of peptides are available?
Peptide supplements: Pills can be helpful, but powder supplements in a morning smoothie are typically more effective and bioavailable. Plus, a scoop of powder can provide a much higher dose than one or two pills. The downside is that supplements need to go through your digestive system which can limit absorption.
Peptide nasal sprays: It’s tough for peptides to cross the blood-brain barrier on their own. Nasal spray is used as a means to deliver peptides more directly to the brain. A great example of this type of delivery is vasoactive intestinal peptide spray, which is often used in the final stages of mold and chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) recovery.
Peptide injections: They can be extremely beneficial for athletes, the elderly, or provide a much-needed boost for those fighting chronic illness. By delivering peptides straight to the bloodstream, they can be absorbed at a much higher rate and completely bypass the digestive system. The downside is that you need to find a practitioner who is skilled in the use of peptides and authorized to inject them.