Perhaps you can recall from your days of high school biology when the teacher briefly went over the importance of amino acids. Though the lesson that day could have expanded into a full-fledged college course, the final message was simple: amino acids are the building blocks of life on Earth.
Perhaps hailing from a distant realm within the universe, amino acids likely arrived here via comet or meteorite, and their general construction is rather simple. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, hence why they’re considered the building blocks of life — you too are composed largely of the very same elements.
As powerful as a singular amino acid may be, these building blocks only grow more powerful after they’ve linked up with one another in a chain-like sequence to form what’s known as a peptide. Peptides operate by sending messages to cells that provide instructions regarding what those cells should become. For instance, copper tripeptide is a specific peptide that heals wounds and calms inflammation.
Yet of all the peptides that endlessly work to service our body’s specific needs, one peptide known as Pentadecapeptide BPC 157 has recently caused a stir within the medical community.
Commonly referred to as BPC 157 and found originally within the human gastric juice in our gut, this peptide may serve us as the biohack-able body protective compound of the future. Let’s discuss this peptide in more detail to find out exactly what it’s capable of.
What Is BPC 157?
BPC 157 stands for Body Protein Compound 157, and it’s a sequence of 15 amino acids that are linked together to form a peptide. Originally found as a protective peptide within our gut, BPC 157 is an intriguing peptide because it can’t be found in nature by itself. When the body produces a compound that isn’t found naturally in the real world, it receives a special classification. For this reason, scientists classify BPC 157 as “synthetic.”
So why is BPC 157 causing such a commotion? And how can a peptide found in the gut even be classified as a body protective compound?
Simply put, research has led us to believe that BPC 157 can perform some incredible feats. Capable of acting as both a nootropic (a brain booster) and ergogenic (performance enhancing) substance, BPC 157 studies suggest this simple peptide can induce healing effects on various levels.
It can positively impact gastric ulcers and gastric lesions, trigger a vascular response to treat or aid in the recovery of ligament healing and tendon healing, and promote bone healing, wound healing, and muscle healing.
Of the many feats that BPC 157 may potentially achieve, however, its claim to fame is its ability to treat soft tissue injuries that involve skeletal muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The ability to quickly recover from such debilitating injuries is precisely where the scientific community would like to take BPC 157 in the future.
How Does BPC 157 Work?
So how exactly does this peptide perform such incredible undertakings? It all makes sense when we dissect the three overlapping phases of healing that occur within the body after injury occurs. Let’s break these three phases down using an injured Achilles tendon as our example.
Phase 1: Inflammatory Phase
The inflammatory phase is the first phase of healing after an injury. In this phase, let’s pretend our Achilles tendon was extensively strained during an explosive sprint, leaving it feeling sore and painful. The inflammatory response will cause homeostasis to begin as the body seeks to maintain stable internal conditions.
Blood vessels will constrict and seal themselves off as platelets move in to clot and initially treat the wound. From there, these blood vessels will dilate and allow substances like white blood cells, antibodies, enzymes, and other beneficial elements into the affected area to promote wound healing and stave off infection.
It’s during this phase that pain, swelling, heat, and redness will occur. This stage will last for anywhere from 1-5 days.
Phase 2: Proliferation and Repair Phase
After the body has had a chance to treat the initial symptoms of the injury and stabilize internal conditions, it will then begin rebuilding tissue through a cell migration process that attracts healthy cells to the injury site.
It’s also during this phase that blood vessels must receive a sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to produce healthy tissue through collagen organization in open wounds, which allows for the development of a new network of blood vessels to replace the ones that were damaged.
In this specific injury, it’s important to note that the Achilles tendon is heavily composed of extracellular matrix (a building material in the body) and tendon fibroblasts, another word for elongated tendon cells. In animal models, this is where BPC 157 has had an important impact.
After BPC 157 is administered, granulation tissue, or new connective tissue, grows quicker alongside tendon fibroblasts throughout the site of injury. As a result, researchers are exploring what more this peptide can do.
Phase 3: Remodelling Phase
The remodelling phase of the healing process is the final step on the road to recovery. During this phase, the wound has largely healed but may not be back to its normal strength for upwards of 2 years. According to Advanced Tissue, “during this phase, the dermal tissues are overhauled to enhance their tensile strength and non-functional fibroblasts are replaced by functional ones.”
It would seem then that BPC 157 is a healthy, simple, and risk-free opportunity to heal the body in quicker fashion than it would normally heal on its own. Yet as with many complex ingredients that claim to possess incredible properties, issues arise as we dig further into the data.
The Issue With BPC 157
If research has anything to say about BPC 157, it certainly isn’t saying much. And this is precisely why such a potentially helpful compound isn’t available on the market.
For instance, the studies of BPC 157 that tout it as a healing peptide are based on research and experimentation in animals. This means a test subject, such as a rat, was injected with BPC 157 and saw improvements over time. But there is a long and dynamic road between benefits seen in animal trials, and achieving the same results in clinical trials on humans.
Additionally, peptides are poorly absorbed by the body through oral ingestion, making injection the only suitable option for absorbing BPC 157. This means that, should we ever decide to administer BPC 157 to the public, the process wouldn’t be as simple as taking a pill when we wake in the morning. Instead we would need to visit a doctor, and receiving such clinical treatment is not an option for a large percentage of the population
And as we mentioned above, BPC 157 is considered a synthetic peptide because it does not occur in nature. This means that injection of BPC 157 poses a risk among competitive athletes, as this peptide would surely be considered a form of human growth factor. It possesses anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties.
The Side Effects of BPC 157
Let’s pretend for just a moment that you received an injection of BPC 157. It’s being used to treat the very same Achilles tendon we injured only paragraphs above, and you’re now hoping to heal in the fastest possible time frame. What side effects might you expect from such an injection?
While BPC 157 has no known side effects, this is largely because we don’t know how it interacts with humans. For instance, a study conducted on 32 healthy male volunteers who received enemas with this peptide showed no notable side effects. That being said, peptides in and of themselves can often produce unwanted side effects that include:
- Kidney and liver toxicity
- Feeling hot or cold
- Unusual hunger and weight gain
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Toxicity to fetuses
- Heart problems such as abnormal rhythms
- Blood pressure changes (increase or decrease, depending on the peptide)
While we may be able to make the claim that BPC 157 has no known side effects, the reality behind this statement is far less clear. Peptides can produce any number of unwanted side effects, and more research needs to be conducted before we can administer BPC 157 to the general public.
BPC 157 and Continued Research
Some of the world’s top researchers are currently working to determine whether BPC 157 contains life-changing properties. Much of this research comes to us from the University of Zagreb in Croatia.
It is here that studies surrounding the effect of this peptide on the human body are being executed each day. Those who have contributed to this cause include Sikiric P., Bojanic, Cerovecki, Klicek R., Sever M., Vukoja, Egr, Brcic I., Radic, Seiwerth, Pliva, Staresinic M., Anic T., Radic B., Rucman R., Novinscak T., Drmic D.
Is BPC 157 Right for You?
To determine if the healing effect of BPC 157 will benefit humans, we need more information. And most importantly, we need to continue to fund state-of-the-art research that seeks to answer whether or not BPC 157 is safe for use by the general public.
BPC 157 is an amino acid chain that possesses soft tissue-healing properties as well as nootropic benefits similar to that of other natural options on the market today. As a result, there may be no greater body protective compound that has the opportunity to benefit us all.