A buzz word in the current cosmetics and skincare industries, peptides are short-chain amino acids that are considered the building blocks of proteins. They are not complete amino acid chains, but they provide the parts and pieces for protein synthesis in the body. And because peptides are smaller than amino acids, the body absorbs them more easily. You can currently find peptides in serums, moisturizers, makeup, supplements, drinks, and injectables for peptide therapy.
While it’s definitely a buzz word, there’s a reason there’s such a buzz about peptide therapy. It’s natural, non-invasive, able to be administered in many forms, and depending on the peptide, offers numerous benefits to our health. This is because they not only encourage protein regeneration, but they also act as hormones, meaning they have the capacity to affect how our body’s systems run as well.
History of Peptide Use in Modern Medicine
The discovery of peptides stemmed from the initial research into human hormones – their identification, purpose, regulation, etc. The first ever therapeutic peptide was insulin, which was successfully synthesized in 1921. Insulin became the first medicinal peptide on the market in 1923 and is still used today all over the world to manage diabetes.
By the 1990’s, dozens more peptides had been identified, isolated, studied, and synthesized. As well, technology for naturally-derived peptides raced ahead, accelerating the development of new peptide therapies. By the turn of the 21st century, 40 peptide drugs had been approved worldwide, and since 2000, another 33+. Just these newest 33 treat a wide variety of diseases, including:
- Acute heart failure
- Chronic pain
- Cushing’s disease
- Prevent premature labor
- Prostate cancer
- Sepsis/septic shock
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight management for obesity
The Most Popular Peptides for Health Use
While there are many, many peptide products on the market, both OTC and medicinally, there are a few peptides most commonly used by dermatologists, nutrition counselors and integrative doctors alike:
This peptide is the last 15 amino acids of the human growth hormone, which is where the weight-management benefits of hGH come from, making AOD-9604 an effective peptide for boosting metabolism and reducing fat.
This is the most widely-used therapeutic peptide. It’s made of 15 amino acids and works primarily as a potent anti-inflammatory. It is used for tissue healing and repair, decreased injury recovery time, reduction in joint pain.
This medicinal peptide lowers blood pressure. Research and regulation are currently iffy, and there are no approved prescriptions, but bradykinin is nonetheless used for blood pressure management.
This peptide is found in all the tissues in your body – hard and soft. Collagen supplementation has proven effective for improving the health of bones, joints, muscles, skin, and more. This peptide can be consumed orally, topically, or via injection therapy.
GSH is a vital peptide for immunoresponsiveness. Doctors in integrative medicine typically prescribe GSH for overall vitality, as it is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-toxin.
A naturally-occurring peptide found in saliva, urine and copper, this tri-peptide wanes as we age. It has been found to play an active role in DNA repair, tissue repair, hair growth, and anti-aging. As well, this medicinal peptide has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
This is a group of peptides that tell the body to secrete growth hormones, which stimulates cell reproduction, cell regeneration, metabolic maintenance, and structural maintenance.
This peptide is naturally-produced by your pancreas and is the main mechanism that controls blood glucose levels. If your pancreas doesn’t produce enough or your body is resistant to insulin, this can have life-threatening effects. Supplementation with insulin peptide injections regulates blood sugar.
Also known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a peptide and a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter. Oxytocin peptide therapy is effective for anxiety and social bonding.
This hormone-derived therapeutic peptide is used for treating ED and other sexual arousal disorders. While other drugs treat these disorders via manipulating the cardiovascular system, PT-141 acts on the nervous system.
Clinical Indications for the Safety & Efficacy of Peptide Therapy
The great thing about regenerative and holistic integrative medicine is that it’s all about working with your body, not on it. Treatments like peptide therapy don’t contain harmful substances or foreign compounds your body might reject. When administered properly by a peptide therapy doctor, these treatments have demonstrated a very high level of safety with a very low risk of complications.
Highlights from current clinical research on peptides for medicinal use include:
- Studies on therapeutic peptides as a treatment for type 2 diabetes showed that, after injection, the GLP-1RAs peptide reduced average blood sugar levels and improved fasting blood sugar levels.
- Another study on neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes showed peptide therapy reduced stress on the kidneys. Kidney failure is a common complication of diabetes 2.
- Peptide treatments have shown anti-atherosclerotic properties, proving a beneficial treatment method for cardiovascular disease. The FDA has approved various medicinal peptides for treatment of heart disease for over 20 years.
- Several studies on the use of medicinal peptides for GI disorders have demonstrated that peptides have the ability to increase the health and function of the intestine, and improve stool composition and regularity. The FDA approved the linaclotide peptide as accepted treatment for constipation in 2012.
- Clinical studies on tumor therapy and cell-targeted peptides show that peptide therapy can be applied to tumor treatment in 4 ways: probes for tumor imaging, materials for tumor therapy, vaccines to activate the body’s immune response, and alone as a targeted drug.
- A study of covalent protein vaccines showed peptides prohibited tumor cell growth and excited/activated T cells. This type of peptide engineering has also been applied to drug studies on influenza and HIV treatment.
Peptides are being researched for a number of other conditions, as we’re beginning to wonder if there’s even an end to the list of potential disorders that peptide therapy can prove useful for. Additional research includes muscle and ligament repair, skin repair (burns and anti-aging), cystic fibrosis, antiviral use, and others.
Curious to learn more about this and other regenerative therapies? Check out more articles on our blog, and visit our Resources page for more ways to explore the possibilities of real, permanent pain relief.