It was early 2022 when friends here in LA first started sharing their peptide therapy experiences with me. One was on a regimen for fertility in preparation for banking her eggs, another for muscle gains, and yet another for weight loss. The Ozempic controversy had yet to swirl into mainstream consciousness, and I was amazed to hear about their results.
Initially, I spoke with Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Toni Tizon-Damiano of Roots Wellness who offers sermorelin, CJC1295, and semaglutide peptide injections in her practice. Through Toni, I began to learn about the growing promise of peptide therapies to target a wide range of needs from anti-aging to deepened sleep and improved brain health.
As I widened my research, I found that certain top biohackers had been quietly naming peptide injections as an exciting area of progress for years. Insulin, for example, is a peptide and has been around for over 100 years. As is nearly always the case, it’s taken time — and possibly a bit of media controversy — for many of the lesser known peptide treatments to become more accessible and better understood.
As the semaglutide (Ozempic) craze has grown, it has triggered valid concerns of a return to “diet culture”. That craze brought my research to a halt and I hesitated to cover the topic at all. We’re on a positive trajectory of body positivity in this decade in a way I hope to see continue.
After polling our readers on Instagram, you let us know that the interest was there, and I decided to publish these insights from three pros, all of whom offer a wide variety of peptide therapies in their practices. Peptide therapies are so promising across an important cross-section of health concerns beyond just weight loss. Across the board, in my look at peptide therapy offerings, I’ve found a wide-variety of therapies with claims related to all of the below:
+ Better sleep quality
+ Improved immunity
+ Improved bone density
+ Reduction in body fat
+ Increased metabolism
+ Increased lean muscle mass
+ Accelerated wound healing
+ Thicker hair
+ Tightening of the skin
+ Better athletic recovery
+ An overall increase in energy
+ Balance with other hormones
+ Improved libido and sexual performance
+ Improved cognition
+ Improved joint pain
+ Improved mood
Peptides are not new: A lot of research on peptides has been going on for decades, mostly in Europe, and not the US, acccording to Dr. Jacey Folkers’ of Joi Women’s Wellness, “I would assume this is because we have been going through a strong pharmaceutical boom during this time. However, I believe peptides should be a large focus for medicine in the United States moving forward. Unfortunately, I’m not confident this will be the case. Hopefully, education and awareness of the benefits of peptides continues to spread so that more and more individuals can experience what they can do for their health and the health of their loved ones.”
We’re sharing a few of the most notable peptide therapies you should know about below, but first…
An important note on Ozempic + Weight Loss: Semaglutide and some other peptides target obesity, appetite control and chronic blood sugar imbalances specifically. While supporting weight loss in obese individuals is key for many preventative health measures, please think twice about any treatment that reduces appetite if medical obesity is not a health issue for you.
Many of us, myself included, actually need more nutrition in our daily diets for optimal health — not less. Before approaching any peptide therapy that could effect your appetite, consider working with a nutritionist first to do some personal testing. I recommend long-time TCM contributors Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, IFNCP, holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, and Jennie Miremadi, a licensed integrative clinical nutritionist who also specializes in healing from disordered eating.
Let’s Talk About Peptide Therapies: 6 Treatments To Know
Let’s start with a few peptides therapies I’ve been fascinated to learn more about…
SS-31 | According to Dr. Heather Smith-Fernandez of Peptology, SS-31 is a peptide that helps to “dysregulate the production of mitochondrial free radical production (mitochondrial-derived ROS) and is therefore being looked as a global anti-aging molecule.”
BPC-157 has been experimentally demonstrated to accelerate the healing of many different wounds, including tendon-to-bone healing and superior healing of damaged ligaments. This peptide has been known to exhibit analgesic (pain relieving) characteristics. Those who suffer from discomfort due to muscle sprains, tears and damage may benefit from treatment with this peptide. You can download Peptology’s free guide to peptide treatment therapies here.
Cerebrolysin | Also called FPE-1070. The neuroprotective properties of the nootropic peptide Cerebrolysin help to protect neurons from lactic acidosis and prevent the formation of free radicals. Cerebrolysin has been studied in memory loss, concentration decline, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, MS, TBI, and stroke.
CJC1295 | According to Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Toni Tizon-Damiano this growth hormone peptide is one of the most popular peptides used at her practice.“With growth hormone peptides, it is important to understand that we’re not injecting growth hormone itself. These peptides simply enhance the signaling to our pituitary to secrete more of our own supply of growth hormone.
The popular use of growth hormone peptides started after studies found that patients were injecting growth hormone and having negative outcomes. The use of peptides provided some of the benefits of enhancing our own natural supply of growth hormone without the negative side effects
Low growth hormone can cause an individual to feel fatigue, brain fog, depressed, mood changes, low libido, weaker muscle function or a decrease in the ability to gain muscle, an increase in fat and so much more.”
Growth hormone is responsible for childhood development, but is also important in adulthood. Growth hormone is responsible for many functions in our body that we lose as we age. After age 30, there is a steady decline of growth hormone produced by our body. This decline is often due to aging but also to toxin exposure, oxidative stress, disease, lack of sleep, obesity, inflammation and of course, chronic stress.
DSIP or Delta sleep-inducing peptide | According to Dr. Jacey Folkers’ of Joi Women’s Wellness, DSIP is a naturally occurring substance originally isolated from rabbit brains in 1977. DSIP has been described as a sleep-promoting substance rather than a sedative. Clinical uses for DSIP exist and the peptide has been used for the treatment of alcohol and opioid withdrawal with some success.
Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) | Semaglutide is a GLP-1 peptide (glucagon like peptide receptor agonist), says Nurse Practitioner, Toni Tizon-Damiano. Semaglutide has been prescribed for those with type 2 diabetes to help lower hemoglobin A1C (3 months blood sugar). These patients found that they were not only lowering their A1C, but also losing weight. Semaglutide helps to increase insulin secretion to decrease blood sugar in turn, decreasing appetite. Many of my clients are experiencing faster weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower hemoglobin A1C and potentially lowering their risk for cardiovascular related deaths.
Semaglutide was first developed in 2012 with 1 mg injection (Ozempic) first approved as a treatment for type 2 diabetes in 2017. The FDA approved semaglutide in 2021 for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol).
Selank | This peptide has pronounced anxiolytic activity and acts as a stable neuropsychotropic, antidepressant, and anti-stress drug that relieves aggression and fear reaction in different animal species. Selank also has a nootropic action, which promotes the formation of memory and learning processes, and tremendous immunomodulatory activity.
Sermorelin is a peptide analogue of growth hormone-releasing hormone. It was first developed within the United States during the early 1980s. By 1997, the FDA approved its use and sale via prescription.
Yes, peptides have been around and researched much longer than most people realize. Sermorelin acts in a very specific way and is valued for its therapeutic possibilities. It does not affect the levels or actions of glucose, insulin, prolactin, cortisol, thyroid hormones and a host of other compounds within the body. Instead, sermorelin stimulates the body to increase its production of human growth hormone which improves the efficiency of the body’s metabolism. Because Sermorelin increases the body’s metabolism and improves energy levels, it has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on weight loss in people who want a more natural approach.
On the Ozempic Controversy
We also asked Dr. Jacey Folkers’ to weigh in further on the controversies surrounding semaglutide, from reduced access to diabetes meds, the narrative around weight loss culture — even ‘Ozempic face’. He shared this with us:
“The latest data shows that over 73% of US adults are overweight or obese with obesity as the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. What’s more, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in America.
Both obesity and diabetes mellitus are important independent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. We tend to categorize people based on official diagnoses, but just because a person struggling with weight or obesity has not been diagnosed as a diabetic does not necessarily mean they do not have the same health risk factors as a person who has. Medication that can help prevent and even reverse the chronic metabolic conditions that lead to diseases linked to diabetes and obesity should not necessarily be limited to one specific diagnosis.
Semaglutide can dramatically change the trajectory of a person’s health by helping improve the metabolic and blood sugar imbalances many Americans have. For the most part, type 2 diabetes and obesity are conditions with significant lifestyle contributing factors. Semaglutide can help people make changes in their lifestyle that will benefit their health. It can help excess weight come off and blood sugar levels to improve, which can lead to overall better health.
When it comes to the discussion around “Ozempic face”, this side effect should not be blamed on the medication itself. When dosed appropriately, semaglutide can help facilitate a steady and gradual weight loss experience for many patients. With all medications, the dose is extremely important, as everyone responds to medications a bit differently. If a patient is being monitored well and dosed appropriately, their weight loss can be managed at a more gradual rate and prevent extremely fast drops in body mass, which can lead to ‘Ozempic face’.
Overall, peptides have far less side effects compared to pharmaceutical medications. Peptides have a pleiotropic effect (more than one effect) on the body and functions in the body in a more natural way. Medications often are meant to have a single direct effect and change or inhibit a naturally occurring pathway in the body. For example a COX2 inhibitor has a single targeted inhibition, and because of that, we get a whole bunch of side effects. The medication is forcing a response to occur in the body, whereas a peptide will moreso guide the body’s own built-in healing process to function better.
Before You Try Peptide Therapy…
Tizon-Damiano notes that growth hormone peptides specifically are not safe for anyone that has a known cancer and have not been well studied in those with thyroid disorders. “I require lab testing, vital signs, weight and BMI. Monitoring Insulin like growth factor (IGF-1) and other basic labs are crucial. IGF-1 is a biomarker that is the most important at mirroring what our growth hormone is doing. It has been studied in aging and the key is not to be too high or too low but to be balanced.
I urge people to commit to their peptide regimen for the full 6 months and then cycle off at least 30 days between to make sure that the body will continue to produce it’s own natural supply of growth hormone and won’t develop resistance to it.”
Tizon-Damiano’s patients most often see results in 3-6 months after daily injections that must be kept in the refrigerator. Side effects from peptide injections can include nausea and/or dizziness that commonly diminish once the body adjusts to the peptide.
The needles involved in peptide injections are very small, nonetheless most of them require injecting 5 out of 7 nights per week on an empty stomach.
Peptide injections usually range from $150-$300 per month depending on the peptide.