By now, you’ve likely heard the buzz around peptide therapy. It’s been praised for its many health benefits, but some confusion surrounds it.
Clinical studies have shown peptides can help reduce inflammation, increase lean muscle mass, lower body fat, improve sex drive, and improve overall wellness.
Peptide therapy can also decrease joint and muscle pain and improve mood and sleep. It’s also used to optimize the production of growth hormone (GH) to help with age-related changes like hair loss, cognitive impairment, and bone loss. And it can help people with chronic medical conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Public interest is also growing as podcast influencers like Joe Rogan share personal stories of peptide therapy benefits. And Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Professor of Neurobiology and Opthalmology at Stanford University, talks about GLP-1 agonists, a class of peptides that show remarkable results for weight loss and other metabolic parameters.
But before we dive into the top peptide therapies that may help you, it’s important to understand what peptides are and how they work.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins. Peptides bind to specific receptors in the body to trigger a response, telling the body which cells to turn on and off. Some peptides occur naturally in the body, and some are made in a lab.
As we age, we produce fewer amino acids causing the number of peptides to decrease. As a result, our strength and energy decline, and we no longer perform optimally.
This is where peptide therapy may help some people. Suppose a specific function of your body is failing due to age or a medical condition. In that case, peptide therapy can target that system and tell your body to restore its function.
Here we’ll discuss the top peptide protocols that can improve overall wellness and limit the effects of aging on the body.
1. CJC 1295
CJC-1295 is an injectable Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) peptide. It’s been found to increase growth hormone (GH) by 2 to 10 fold and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF1) by 1 to 3 fold.
IGF-1 is a hormone similar in molecular structure to insulin, plays a vital role in childhood growth, and has a muscle-building effect in adults.
Growth hormone is a protein produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. The primary job of growth hormone in childhood is to stimulate bone and tissue growth. But it’s also very important in adults.
Growth hormone helps regulate metabolism. It also helps break down fat and helps with our bone strength, heart muscle function, and the amount of good and bad cholesterol in our bodies. This is super important because it reduces the risk of high cholesterol and osteoporosis.
Semaglutide is an injectable medication administered once weekly to help manage weight. It may also lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and lower your blood sugar.
It was initially approved in 2017 (Ozempic) to help with blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. People taking Ozempic for diabetes also lost weight, so the manufacturer conducted trials to see if people without diabetes had the same benefit. They found this to be the case, and the FDA approved the medication’s use to include weight loss in adults (Wegovy) in 2021.
In a 68-week trial, over 2,000 adults reported an average weight loss of nearly 15% of their body weight (35 pounds) vs. placebo (2.5%) when used with lifestyle changes (healthy diet and exercise).
But how does semaglutide work for weight loss?
Semaglutide mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) found in the gut. When you eat, GLP-1 is released from the gut and tells your brain you’re full.
GLP-1 also slows down how fast food leaves your stomach, suppressing your appetite. And GLP-1 tells your pancreas to release insulin after you eat. This lowers your blood sugar, so you use the sugar from your food instead of storing excess sugar as fat.
3. BPC 157
BPC 157, or Body Protection Compound 157, is a peptide derived from stomach acid. For general use, BPC 157 can be taken either orally or injected under the skin once daily. If injury-specific, dosing may be split into twice daily injections under the skin, specifically around the injury site.
It works by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow to damaged tissues. As a result, it speeds up the healing wounds, tendons, ligaments, and bone injuries. It also protects neurons and supports healing your nervous system.
BPC 157 is anti-inflammatory and helps heal inflamed intestinal tissues. It’s also cytoprotective, which means it maintains the mucosal lining of your intestinal tract to promote healing and decrease pain in the damaged areas of your intestines.
With IBS, in particular, it helps reduce swelling in your gut. It can also prevent or help heal stomach ulcers caused by NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
DSIP (Delta Sleep-Induced Peptide) has been shown to promote deep sleep (delta wave sleep).
In studies, disturbed sleep was normalized when injections of DSIP were given. In addition, better performance and increased alertness were seen during awake cycles, along with improved stress tolerance and coping behavior.
DSIP can be given as an injection under the skin first thing in the morning or 3 hours before bedtime.
How often a person receives a dose of DSIP depends on their response to the peptide. Some people require daily DSIP injections, while others require DSIP every 3 days or weekly.
You may hear Selank referred to as the “anti-anxiety” peptide or a “nootropic.” Selank stabilizes blood enkephalins. Enkephalins are natural peptides found in the brain that help with stress. Not only can it reduce stress, but it can also relieve anxiety and improve memory.
In clinical trials, it has been shown to provide an anti-anxiety effect. It does this by enhancing the effect of GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down your brain by blocking signals in your central nervous system. This produces a calming effect.
In addition to its anti-anxiety benefits, its nootropic actions improve cognitive function, attention, memory, and motivation.
Selank also increases the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an important brain growth compound in the hippocampus that helps with learning and memory.
Other studies have shown Selank to increase levels of IL-6, an inflammatory protein in the body that helps fight off infections. And other studies have shown it to decrease blood sugar which prevents weight gain. This could be very helpful for those with metabolic syndrome.
Selank is given as an intranasal (into the nose) spray daily or as needed.
PT-141 (bremelanotide) is a melanocortin receptor agonist peptide. Melanocortin is a natural hormone in your body that works on receptors in your brain and nervous system to cause sexual arousal and influence sexual behavior. However, we don’t know exactly how it works to improve sex drive. It can also work on receptors in cells that produce skin color (melanocytes).
You may know PT-141 as Vyleesi. This medication was initially FDA-approved in 2019 to help low sex drive in women who haven’t gone through menopause yet. While it’s not approved for low sex drive in men, some may use it off-label.
In these cases, PT-141 is also used in men to help improve erections, libido, sex drive, and performance.
PT-141 is given on an as-needed basis at least 45 minutes before sex as an injection under the skin.
Kisspeptin-10 is a neuropeptide involved in reproduction, sexual behavior, and sexual attraction. It helps increase activity in the brain associated with sexual attraction and arousal.
Kisspeptin-10 also stimulates the hypothalamus to release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which in turn signals the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones play a role in the production of both testosterone and estradiol.
This more physiological stimulation of LH and FSH may reduce the risk of overstimulation of the ovaries often associated with fertility injections. Because of this, Kisspeptin is currently being studied as an alternative to current fertility treatments.
Because Kisspeptin-10 increases both LH and FSH, it may benefit men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) programs who have experienced a drop in their LH or FSH levels due to excessive amounts of exogenous testosterone.
Kisspeptin-10 is given as an injection under the skin.
Thymosin alpha 1 (TA1) has been shown to enhance the function of certain immune cells. TA1 has been shown to exhibit antibacterial and antiviral properties, suppress tumor growth, and promote wound and tissue healing.
TA1 is used for clinical conditions where immune support is needed. Zadaxin is a TA1 peptide evaluated and approved in 30 countries for treating hepatitis B & C, HIV, and AIDS. It’s also used with chemotherapy for certain lung, liver, and skin cancer patients. In addition, it is used in people with DiGeorge syndrome and has shown promising results in treating Lyme disease.
Currently, the medication is in Phase III trials for treating hepatitis C and Phase II trials for hepatitis B in the United States.
TA1 is typically injected under the skin once daily. For viral infections, treatments usually last for 2 weeks. But, depending on what you’re treating and how serious your infection is, treatment could last 3 months or more. Also, the dose depends on why you’re taking it.
9. Copper peptides
Copper peptides improve skin firmness and smoothness and reduce fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis in skin cells. This is helpful for people looking to get rid of dark spots and fine lines.
Copper peptides also help prevent further hair loss in men and women by blocking an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. This hormone can cause hair follicles to become weaker and thinner over time. This is helpful for people with thinning hair.
Copper peptides also promote wound healing by decreasing inflammation post-tissue injury and by removing damaged and scar tissue to generate new, healthy tissue. If your acne prone, copper peptides may help with scarring and redness caused by inflammation and can even help with breakouts by reducing bacteria on the skin.
Copper peptide skin and hair products are applied topically twice daily. Many types of products are commercially available. Most copper peptide skin care products are water-based serums and creams. Most copper peptide hair products are water-based serums or foams.
Copper peptides are listed on ingredient labels as either GHK-Cu, Copper Tripeptide-1, Copper Lysinate, Copper Prolinate, or Copper Gluconate.