Healing Peptides - What you need to know
Updated: Aug 8
What Are Peptides?
Peptides are simply short proteins, which is to say chains of amino acids. They can be as short as two or three amino acids in length or as long as a fifty. After fifty amino acids they are considered to be proteins. They generally do not have any significant structure beyond their amino acid sequence (called primary structure).
Over the last fifty years, hundreds of peptides have been investigated in animal studies and many of those peptides have undergone extensive testing in humans as well. There has been renewed interest in peptides as their abilities to treat conditions ranging from Crohn’s disease to heart failure have become more evident. There is a great deal of interest in the medical community in the use of peptides to augment existing treatment, such as in cancer therapy.
What Are Some Healing Peptides?
The easiest way to categorize peptides for healing is to simply list the peptide and briefly cover the research behind it. The following is a short, which is to say not even close to exhaustive, list of peptides with substantial research showing healing benefits.
BPC-157 – Widespread healing properties
BPC-157 is probably the most famous of the healing peptides because it has so many different applications. Originally isolated from the human stomach, BPC-157 helps to reduce inflammation and protect the GI tract from damage. Research shows that its benefits go well beyond the gut though. BPC-157 has been shown to help heal muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, the heart, the eyes, the brain, and more.
Ipamorelin – Bone health and body composition
Ipamorelin is an analogue of growth hormone secreting hormone. It has potent anti-aging properties and is well known to promote muscle growth, bone health, and proper functioning of the GI tract. It is highly specific in its activity and has few if any side effects in most studies. Ipamorelin can help to increase muscle mass while improving fat loss. It also helps to regulate sleep and has been shown to improve learning and memory function in animal models.
Semax – Immune function and brain health
Semax is a derivative of adrenocorticotrophic hormone with well-established nootropic properties due to its ability to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Semax has shown benefit in treating injuries of the central nervous system caused by stroke and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. There is ongoing research to understand what role semax might play in preventing memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. Semax is also an effective regulator of the immune system, changing where and when certain genes that regulate cell growth and antibody production are expressed.
Sermorelin – Wound healing, anti-aging, muscle growth and recovery
Sermorelin is probably the best known of all of the peptides. Used in the clinical setting for diagnostic purposes, sermorelin is well known for its anti-aging, wound healing, and cancer fighting properties. It is a potent anti-oxidant and immune system modulator. It has been shown to improve cardiac function in animal studies and has beneficial effects on metabolism that result in muscle growth and fat burning.
TB500 – Anti-inflammatory and wound healing
TB-500 is a natural anti-inflammatory with prominent anti-fibrotic properties. It has been shown to reduce the formation of scars and has shown benefit in cardiac, kidney, and brain inflammation. TB-500 is a naturally occurring peptide found in low quantities in almost every cell of the body.
Thymosin Alpha-1 - Anti-inflammatory
Thymosin Alpha-1 is a thymosin molecule like TB-500 and has similar anti-inflammatory properties. It is a powerful immune system modulator produced, naturally, by the thymus gland.
What Is a Healing Peptide?
The list above is just a partial list of the numerous peptides for healing that have been discovered, developed, modified, and refined over the last several decades. It is important to note that the vast majority of these peptides are either directly isolated from natural systems (e.g., human gastric contents) or are modified versions of naturally occurring peptides (e.g., sermorelin is an analogue of growth hormone releasing hormone).
Ultimately, all peptides are healing peptides because they promote optimal cell, tissue, and organ function. Some, however, have outstanding properties that lead them to become the focus of research and even drug development. The peptides above rank among the best in terms of promoting healing because they have widespread, robust effects on a variety of tissues and organ systems.
What Do Healing Peptides Do?
The human body has a tremendous capacity to heal itself, but sometimes the very mechanisms designed to help us overcome injury or disease are themselves damaged. This damage is sometimes genetic in nature, sometimes due to disease, and frequently a result of aging. Augmenting natural systems by bolstering the peptides they utilize is a very natural way to achieve healing, particularly in the setting of age-related changes.
Peptides for healing promote faster recovery and tissue regeneration. Take BPC-157 for instance. This peptide is found naturally in the GI tract where it stimulates repair cells to not only divide and grow to address tissue injury, but to produce extracellular matrix components that prevent injury from occurring in the first place. Thus, supplementing with BPC-157 can optimize this natural function by encouraging even more cells to get in on the process. What is more, administering this peptide in places outside of the GI tract helps to stimulate repair cells that are not normally exposed to this peptide.
Peptides for healing work by augmenting the body’s natural healing processes. In many cases, they optimize immune repair mechanisms by reducing the kind of inflammation that leads to pain or scar formation while increasing cell responses, blood vessel growth, and extracellular matrix deposition.
These peptides also help to restore natural processes to more youthful levels. It is a well-known fact that children, in general, recover much faster from injury that adults. Just look at the typical collar bone injury, which heals in young children in as few as four weeks but takes eight to twelve weeks to fully heal in adults. As our natural growth and repair systems wane, recovering from injury takes longer and is generally less complete. By restoring these systems to a more youthful state, healing peptides help speed up recovery and improve the quality of the final outcome.