Peptides are often mentioned when discussing health and wellness, but few people really understand what they’re all about. The truth is, the tiny strings of amino acids are small but extremely mighty, especially in terms of body performance improvement, body composition, sexual enhancement, and longevity. That’s why about 10% of all pharmaceuticals are peptide and protein-based. So, a peptide is like a protein but smaller—way smaller. And a peptide doesn’t have as many amino acids as a protein.
Where peptides are concerned, think tinker toys. Amino acids are the body’s “building blocks,” and there are numerous possibilities of combinations for how they can be constructed to make a peptide. The great thing about peptides is that they can be manipulated to get the reaction we’re looking for, like creating an analogue of growth hormone releasing hormone used to promote the production within the body of more growth hormone (yet another peptide). Not only can peptides stimulate the body to produce more or less of a substance like hormones, they can also be used to enhance normal bodily functions and treat dysfunctions such as disease or illness.
Peptides are produced naturally but can also be created through synthetic processes. There are benefits to using both kinds.
Peptides and amino acids (the building blocks of peptides) occur naturally in many foods as proteins (combinations of peptides), but they don’t offer the best delivery system since the stomach acid breaks peptides apart before getting where they need to go to provide the greatest benefit. And despite being tiny, they are too large to be absorbed by the intestines. To work, they really need to bypass the stomach and be injected directly into the body (intramuscularly, suncutaneously or intraarticularly).
Naturally occurring peptides are on their own schedule. They take time to be made and metabolized, which can impact timing of the benefits. Naturally occurring peptides are often found in proteins such as red meat, fish and shellfish, beans and lentils, soy, oats, flaxseed, hemp seeds, nuts and wheat, and, of course, are made various organs in the body such as the pituitary gland, thyroid gland and pancreas.
There are also lab-made peptides that can mimic some of those found in your body. They are used in some medications, and others are found in supplements and cosmetics or lotions. Peptide-infused prescriptions are used in medications for conditions ranging from diabetes to multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, certain copper peptides, eg, infused in lotions or creams can act as antioxidants, helping to repair damage to your skin. The changes are subtle but advantageous, nonetheless. Peptides are also sold in dietary supplements, including pills or protein shakes, to aid in building muscle, boosting weight and fat loss, and helping with exercise recovery.
Research into the numerous uses of peptides is ongoing but promising. They have been found to help with regeneration of organ function and look resulting in improvements ranging from skin cosmetics to muscle gain and fat loss to libido enhancement and cognitive performance.
When trying anything new, it is always a good idea to consult with your physician. Our bodies react differently, and it’s important to keep a close eye on how your body responds to supplements.
That’s where the FDA comes into the picture. While the FDA has approved some peptides for specific uses, others are illegal. In total, since the early 1980s, 239 therapeutic proteins and peptides have been approved for clinical use by the FDA. So, it’s equally important to do your research.
For example, human growth hormone (HGH) is illegal in this country if prescribed off-label – meaning for non-FDA-approved conditions. Then there are the sometimes unscrupulous characters just looking to make a quick buck. While most pharmacies carry only FDA-approved peptides, some will sell peptides that aren’t FDA-approved, and underground sources exist for especially popular peptides, but the quality can vary wildly. It’s an avoidable risk.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If purchasing something online, review the website carefully and make sure you’re taking the recommended dose. Your health isn’t something you want to simply use blind faith to optimize.
Plan to Act
Peptides don’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. It’s valuable to do your research. Because so much research is being conducted and new products and techniques are emerging regularly, what’s optimal today might not be optimal tomorrow. It’s also very nuanced. Certain peptides can assist with certain health issues. No one should cast a wide net in terms of determining which peptides are best suited for your ailment.
Develop a plan of action in collaboration with your physician. As always, be your health advocate. Peptides can have numerous positive health impacts. It’s great that we can use them to our benefit when we’ve done the leg work. So, don’t count them out but be responsible and methodical in your approach.
Peptides are often mentioned when discussing health and wellness, but few people really understand what they’re all about. The truth is, these tiny strings of amino acids are small but extremely mighty, especially in terms of body performance improvement, body composition, sexual enhancement, and longevity.
Where peptides are concerned, think tinker toys. They are the body’s “building blocks,” and there are numerous possibilities of combinations for how they can be constructed. The great thing about peptides is that they can be manipulated to get the reaction we’re looking for, like producing more growth hormone. Not only can peptides stimulate the body to produce more or less of a substance, but they can be used to enhance normal bodily functions and treat dysfunctions such as disease or illness. Research into the numerous uses of peptides is ongoing but promising.Dr. Rand McClain