There has been a great deal of discussion and controversy in the media around the use of peptides.
In my clinics, I am asked several times a day by patients whether they can have them and whether they’re even legal (I think a lot of people partially hope they are illegal).
The interesting thing about this is that most people who ask for them think of them as simply the latest in the ever-growing market of quick-fix magic potions.
When asked by patients and friends for peptides and other weight-augmenting or weight loss medications, I always ask (and you should ask yourself too): What do you want to achieve? Is it legal (peptides are in fact completely legal if prescribed by a doctor)? Which are the right ones for me?
What Are Peptides
In the world of health and fitness peptides are used and recommended for increased energy, burning fat, building muscle and improving athletic ability.
If you think of a hormone as a tree made up of many protein branches and even more peptide twigs, it’s easy to see how a hormone can have many side-effects if used wrongly.
Peptides on the other hand are much smaller and have been designed to stimulate specific receptors for growth hormone so you can tailor your results.
Essentially, they can be used for muscle gain or weight loss, recovery, reduced inflammation and are at the forefront of lots of new individual specific treatments for a range of disorders.
To begin with, we need to understand how our bodies function. At the base of our brain rests a small gland called the Pituitary Gland. Despite the fact that the Pituitary Gland is small, it is the control unit to other hormonal glands, for example, Adrenals and Thyroid, which are vital to a vast part of controlling your body and general wellbeing.
In order to keep a sustainable balance in your body, the Pituitary Gland sends signals (hormones) into the circulatory system to the other organs and glands in your body to control or create their own hormones as needed.
“These hormones are keeping your body strong and healthy. Unfortunately, as we age they will start to decline.”
One of the hormones produced by the brain’s Pituitary Gland is Human Growth Hormone (GH or HGH). Human Growth Hormone keeps up body regulation, the digestive system and insulin levels.
But what signals the Pituitary Gland? Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH), which originates from the Hypothalamus.
How It Works
There are many kinds of peptides, which work on different areas of the body. Specifically, there are peptides that can increase our own body’s production of GHRH from the Hypothalamus to naturally release more Human Growth Hormone.
These Amino Acids stimulate our Pituitary Gland to make and excrete more of Human Growth Hormone into the bloodstream. The boosts in production will assist in potentially lessening the effects of ageing.
To understand the benefits of anti-aging, it is important to understand the benefits of increased Human Growth Hormone in the body. HGH acts on many tissues throughout the body. In children and adolescents, it stimulates the growth of bone and cartilage.
In people of all ages, it boosts protein production, promotes the utilisation of fat, interferes with the action of insulin, and raises blood sugar levels.
GH also raises levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is important in the development of lean muscle and is a key factor in the negative feedback loop that causes decreased natural production and release of HGH from the pituitary when the hypothalamus is made aware of the level of HGH in the body.
This means that when there are low levels of HGH the hypothalamus will release stimulators of HGH called Growth Hormone Releasing Hormones (GHRHs) and when the levels are high it will work to lower production.
This is one of the reasons that you should only take hormones prescribed by a doctor so that you can help prevent the troughs when one stops hormones.
As peptides work on the GHRH receptors it goes around the negative feedback loop.
What’s Inside Peptides
Before looking at whether peptides are right for you, let’s look at what’s inside them.
Put simply, they are small proteins made up of fewer than 50 amino acids. Few amino acids have been more demonised of late than peptides for potentially giving unfair advantage in sports.
But as one peptide specialist said, “To brand all peptides evil would be like excommunicating poppies because of the plant’s link to drugs. In fact, in small doses, and within medically approved and prescribed products, peptides can be a lacklustre complexion, body and life’s best friend.”
How Do You Take Peptides
Most peptides are injected into the body but specialists are now developing other methods for introducing peptides into the body.
This includes creams which apply to the skin topically (outside of the skin) or transdermally (similar to patches). They can also be applied to the skin inside the mouth or consumed where it is then absorbed into the body.
Should You Use Peptides
When asking what you want to put in your body you must always ask whether the benefits outweigh the side effects.
Like any substance that you know nothing about, they should not be bought online from unregistered suppliers or borrowed from a friend and then injected or consumed.
The Argument For Peptides
There is ample and robust evidence supporting the remedial effects of increased Human Growth Hormone.
As discussed by Harvard Men’s Health Watch, some of the benefits include: enjoying protection from fractures, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, improved exercise capacity and a reduced risk of future heart disease.
A number of studies have also demonstrated improvements in psychological well-being, with specific improvements in energy improved sleep quality (fewer awakenings, increased duration of deep sleep). Moreover, healthcare consumption and sick days decrease in parallel with enhanced psychological well-being.
“Every man desires to live long,” wrote Jonathan Swift, “but no man would be old.” He was right, and the fountain of youth need not be an illusion.
There are a number of peptides that have been developed to assist the Pituitary Gland in releasing increased amounts of Growth Hormones.
Compared to steroids and testosterone, with their large potential for fast benefits and potential side effects, these are not magic beans that will turn you into a super-athlete overnight. Peptides are more of a medium burn for those of us that know that the body we want is one of lifestyle enhancement and that the hours at the gym are necessary.
Most people, when asked what they think a peptide is, simply don’t care. They’re results-driven, and it doesn’t matter to them that their method might be madness. Peptides are a magic genie that is ready and waiting to enact your heart’s desire.
Like most things in life, success takes a little work and any help along the way is appreciated. The right plan and the right peptides can assist your body in doing the things it already does to achieve your desired results.
I myself have been using a range of peptides for many years and living a fast-paced, travel, work and event filled life I need to look natural, look fit and healthy and more importantly energetic and not tired all of which peptides help me achieve.
The Argument Against Peptides
They can have great but potentially serious side effects and you should have a chat to a doctor before even considering their use.
Used Incorrectly, peptides have the potential to cause side effects of varying degrees depending on its user.
These can include:
- Itchiness at the injection area
- Increased water retention (a common sign of overdosage)
- Increased hunger
- Dry mouth
- Tingling or numbness
- High blood pressure
- Extreme kidney pain
- Joint pain
- Darkening of moles and increase of freckles
- Weight gain/loss
- Decreased fertility
It’s Not A Magic Drug
Many people are making a lot of money from selling what you want, so always remember to ask what it does, how long to take it, how to take it and what side effects it has so that you have realistic expectations of what it can do for you.
While peptides can help you to burn fat while working, eating, talking and even sleeping, they must be combined with other lifestyle factors over several months to see the best results.