Peptide therapy is a somewhat new, but extremely exciting treatment modality. It has gained popularity in the last few years because of its safety and ability to treat a wide range of conditions. It has application for everything from chronic Lyme disease to weight loss, depending on the specific peptides chosen. For the purposes of this article I will focus on the use of peptide therapy in chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease, CIRS, and other immune and neurological disorders. Stay tuned for a follow-up post about peptides for anti-aging, weight loss, and sleep.
What is Peptide Therapy?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids (baby proteins basically) that the body makes naturally. They act as signaling molecules within the cell and can be viewed as the master regulators of many functions of the body.
Each peptide does a very specific thing, which is exciting because it means we can therapeutically target a problem without influencing other functions within the body. In contrast, hormones may act on a number of body functions, so if we give someone thyroid hormone, for example, it could work on skin, heart rate, sleep, metabolism and so on.
For this reason, peptides generally have a more rapid response with fewer side effects.
Some of the benefits of peptide therapy include:
- Immune regulation
- Neurological repair and regeneration
- Central nervous system health – cognition, mood, sleep etc.
- Musculoskeletal healing, reduction in pain and inflammation.
- Digestive health
Most peptides are given by subcutaneous injection. Some are available in capsule form or as nasal sprays.
How safe is peptide therapy?
Because peptides naturally occur in every cell, they are extremely safe with an impressively minimal side effect profile.
Peptides are dispensed through compounding pharmacies and should be done under the supervision of a licensed medical professional. I would strongly discourage anyone from ordering peptides online. It is imperative to only use pharmaceutical-grade products that we know are clean, high-quality and not contaminated.
Is peptide therapy right for me?
Since there are thousands of peptides, a myriad of possible conditions can be treated. Listed are some examples:
- Anxiety, depression, PTSD
- Skin aging and hair loss
- Lyme disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders
- IBS and inflammation of the GI tract
- Mold toxicity
- Growth hormone stimulation
There are many different peptides available. The ones selected will depend on the priorities and concerns of a given individual. Some may focus on anti-aging, weight loss, athletic performance, boosting libido and sexual function; while others focus on recovery from chronic diseases such as Lyme disease, with priorities include immune modulation and neurological repair.
Because chronic issues are what I work with the most, I wanted to highlight a few of our favorite peptides that apply to the population we serve.
Thymosin alpha-1 is produced in the thymus gland and is involved in enhancing immune function. It is an ideal starting point for those with Lyme disease and mold toxicity.
- reduces inflammatory cytokines
- stimulates T-cell production
- balances Th1/Th2 ratio (crucial in immune-mediated inflammatory disease states such as Lyme disease and CIRS)
- improves resistance to infection
- has antiviral and antitumor properties (includes herpes family of viruses such as EBV, CMV and HHV6)
- reverses the immuno-suppressive effects of CFS/FMS/Lyme
- Improves tissue repair and healing
This peptide also increases glutathione production, which is a key antioxidant and detox support.
Thymosin beta-4 is also secreted from the thymus and is therefore involved in stimulation of T-cell production. In addition to its role in immune system modulation, it is involved with soft tissue repair.
It also promotes angiogenesis (new blood vessels) and improves circulation, and can assist with regeneration and remodeling of the heart when cardiac damage is present.
Thymosin beta-4 is often used in combination with BCP-157 (below).
In our bodies, BCP-157 is isolated from human gastric juice.
Subsequently that peptide’s therapeutic applications include:
- Healing leaky gut
- Promoting repair of IBS
- Repair and prevent gastric ulcers
- H. pylori infection
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (great paired with thymosin alpha-1/ beta-4 for the immune modulating effects in these auto-immune situations).
- Protecting the liver against toxic agents such as alcohol and medications.
Along with the gastrointestinal benefits, BCP-157 also works on connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. It can promote repair of damaged tissues, accelerate wound healing and healing from injuries, post-surgical repair; and reduce pain in damaged tissues.
It can also help repair nerve damage.
This one can be taken orally in capsule form, or as a subcutaneous injection. The oral form may be better for the GI benefits, while the injectable is going to be superior for musculoskeletal issues.
This is an antimicrobial peptide that is expressed in various cells like neutrophils (white blood cells). It has a broad-spectrum antimicrobial effect against bacteria, enveloped viruses and fungi.
LL-37 in the body is stored in neutrophil granules, and naturally secreted by stem cells.
It can help to module immune function and lead to a decrease in TGF-beta.
One study actually demonstrated that it kills Borrelia cysts better than tinidazole, and boosted the efficacy of tinidazole when used in combination.
Herxing is a possibility with this peptide, especially in Th2-dominant individuals. Pretreating with thymosin-alpha 1 can help balance immune response to reduce Herx reactions.
This peptide penetrates the blood-brain barrier, meaning it reaches neurons directly and both helps to protect and repair. It can impact both the central and peripheral nervous systems.
This is advantageous for chronic neurological Lyme and CIRS, as well as neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and post-concussion syndrome.
Where cerebrolysin focusses on nerve repair and regeneration, Selank and Semax influence the central nervous system more in terms of mood regulation.
Selank is a nootropic (a cognitive enhancer) that is used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD and immune modulation, but does not produce amnesia, withdrawal or dependence like the benzodiazepine medications.
Selank works primarily by binding with GABA receptors, which is why it’s so effective for anxiety.
This peptide also stabilizes blood sugar which can directly influence our ability to feel calm as well as making it a potential therapeutic option for metabolic syndrome.
Selank can be used as a nasal spray, either alone or in combination with oxytocin and theanine. This is a powerfully calming formula for anxiety. It can also be given in subcutaneous injection.
Semax is another nootropic, meaning it influences memory and cognitive functions.
Similar to Selank, it can also be used for anxiety, but is also indicated for depressive states because of its ability to increase Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which modules glutamate and GABA.
Semax also acts as a nerve regenerator. Because of this, it has been used to treat stroke, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and opioid withdrawal.
Semax is indicated for people who need a boost in their mood.
I know what you’re thinking…”I need all of them!”. Either that or “oh boy, I’m confused”.
I get it. There’s a lot of information. It took us a while to get up to speed as well.
But I truly believe this therapy has a lot to offer.
So where to from here?
We offer consultations regarding peptide therapy at my practice, RestorMedicine, with Dr. Julia Britz. She is a naturopathic doctor who is passionate about peptide therapy and has been knee-deep in researching it for a couple of years now.
To schedule with her go to our website www.restormedicine.com, click on Schedule online, and select Dr. Britz as the provider. Or call 619-546-4065.
Next week we are also offering a webinar to go over this information in more detail and give you the opportunity to ask questions.
Please click here to register.
So here is what I’ll leave you with. No treatment works 100% for everyone and the same is true for peptide therapy. However, for some people the right treatment can change the quality of life when other options have failed and that is why we see peptide therapy as such a significant therapy, and one worth considering.