Monthly Archives: May 2019

Peptide Primer: Thymosin Beta 4 Your Healing Booster

References: NIH Grant Home,J. Investigative DermatologyScience DirectWikipedia,

If you haven’t heard of Thymosin Beta 4, don’t sweat it. No one else has either. So here goes. It was the second peptide isolated from Thymus extracts so got called Thymosin beta 4. Then it was found everywhere else, particularly in platelets. Considering that platelets are the very first things to plug up a wound, having a lot in platelets lends credence to the idea that TB4 plays a big role in healing. It does. It appears to play a key function in helping the molecules that make your internal cellular scaffolding called actin molecules to line up and bond together in chains. That’s one of the key steps of a cell repairing its inner architecture, or multiplying, or differentiating. TB4 isn’t just tissue repair though, as it demonstrates activity in a variety of venues that haven’t been fully sorted out. Yet. So, we’ve got stuff to learn. But bottom line, it’s not from the thymus gland. It’s everywhere. It can promote migration of cells, formation of blood vessels, maturation of stem cells, survival of various cell types and lowering of the production of inflammatory cytokines. Wow. It does everything attached to repairing injury and helping new growth! So what if we kill the gene off that codes for it in lab rats. What happens? Nothing we can tell. They look normal. Go figure. More mysteries to unpack. 
It is a bit larger than many active peptides at 43 amino acids long. And it may not be a final step. If you chop off the end 4 amino acids, you get a potent peptide that inhibits blood cell formation. The intertwining of peptide functions in multiple layers makes for their complexity and potential potency. 
How can TB4 be used? Well, there is a lot of excitement around its utility in dry eyes. One of the most frequent autoimmune conditions in women, dry eyes are a terrible scourge. Can you imagine a drop that had no side effects? How about regeneration after a heartattack? Want new blood vessels growing in bringing in new muscle stem cells? It shows promise in healing the plaques of multiple sclerosis. In Europea company has been granted a patent to use TB4 in MS for just that purpose. 
How about just plain old wounds? Cuts? Surgery? Burns?In a rat study using 8 mm full-thickness punch wounds of the skin, Tβ4 at 5 μg/50 μL 
was found to accelerate wound closure, increase angiogenesis, and accelerate collagen deposition. One surgeon now claims that he uses it with every surgery, on everyone.

What’s a curious person to do? Hmmm. Learn first. TB4 may soon find itself in cream for you to put on topical wounds. It may emerge as part and parcel of surgery. It may play a role in heart attack recovery. If I had dry eyes, I’d be all over it. It’s a natural compound that was part of your ecosystem when you were young. But do we have impressive, randomized trials to prove it? How much do you need to do when there are no side effects? Do we need to study it, or simply replace it. You had it when you were young.

WWW: What will work for me. I’m going to give myself the stuff and see if I feel anything different. It’s cheap. And has no side effects, well yet. I’m three days in and haven’t felt anything worse.

Pop Quiz: 

  1. Thymosin Beta 4 is found primarily in the thymus gland extracts. T or F. Answer: False. It is there and was discovered there, but it is all over your body, particularly in platelets.
  2. Its key role appears to be in helping rebuild broken down cells, or regenerating cells by doing what? Answer: Glueing together the building blocks of a cell’s internal scaffolding called actin. You gotta put together the ladders, the footings, and scaffolding before you can rebuild a wounded cell, or grow a new cell. That’s what a general contractor does. That’s what thymosin beta 4 does.
  3. Can you name one clinical condition thymosin beta four has been successfully used in? Answer: dry eyes
  4. If it is good for wound healing, where else might it be useful? Answer: a voluntary wound called surgery might be just the ticket. Want to get better, faster?
  5. We have to be careful with TB4 as we don’t have randomized, placebo-controlled science to prove that it works. T or F. Answer: T. But there is always a huge debate about how much you have to explore on compounds that were always there, part of your natural landscape that fades with age, and have no discernible side-effects. There’s the rub. Do we need to have it around for years to prove lack of long term side effects?

Peptide Primer: III Thymosin a 1

References: Proc Nat Acad of SciWikipediaClin Expr ImmunolNatureCritical CareScience Daily,

Ready for this? Here goes a deep dive into the next peptide in our series: Thymosin a1. It was discoveredway back in 1972. It is a 28 amino acid peptide that is a chunk derived off a larger 113 amino acid pro-peptide. It appears to act primarily by enhancing your T-cells to do their thing fighting viruses and cancers. And if you talk T cells, then you have to look at auto-immune diseases where an imbalance of T cell function plays a big role. 
Now, your thymus gland really goes to town when you are a tiny tot. A one-year-old has a thymus gland about half the size of their heart that is easily visible on chest x-ray. But this aging thing isn’t so good for your thymus gland, or its function. As we age, we lose significant thymus function. Our thymus gland involutes and is basically gone by age 20. You can find it on surgery, but it’s down to a tiny vestige of its former self. Your T cells and dendritic cells are still there, but their function appears to be coasting and slowly degrading. Thymosin a1 helps dendritic cells to present antigens to T cells, and the T cells do the “killing”. 
What are some examples of its clinical applications? Well, it if enhances T cell function, it should be able to increase the ability to fight chronic viral diseases. One of the world’s scourges is Chronic Hepatitis B. Sure enough, Thymosin a1 adds sufficiently to treatmentthat it has been approved in 35 countries to aid in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C. Tuberculosis is another human vulnerability that has been around since Lucy, with clear problems with our T cell defense. Again, it aids in the treatment of drug-resistant TB.

What this all boils down to is the nature of your immune response to invasion. Autoimmune disease is an abnormal feed forward situation where you attack yourself in response to perceived threat, but still, the abnormal release of internal fire alarms called cytokines. The out-of-control spiral effect of too many cytokines is what happens in septic shock, or severe influenza. In fact, the common cold is mostly the result of your immune response to a virus. You are infectious the first day or two of a cold, but your misery for the next 5-6 days is simply your immune system still driving your crazy with symptoms. The virus is gone. 

How does this affect you on a daily basis? Well, if you have an auto-immune disease, you may want to downregulate it a touch. If you have chronic Hep B or C, it may help. But less dramatic and more mundane, how about if you get a bad cold? Want to be sick for a week, or would you rather be sick for a day or two? 

Does it have any side effects? Thymosin a1 had been around since 1972, and not found to have any side effects yet. It shouldn’t. It comes naturally as part of you. You had lots of it when you were 20. Not so much at 55, less at 70.

WWW: What will work for me? I write this column this week with absolute fascination. I got a horrible cold this last week. We had planned a weekend away in Door County and with a shaking chill, I could hardly get home at the end of my last day. I thought it was just oak pollen at first, but then I was so achy, I realized I was coming down with a virus. We cancelled the vacation, the dog care, the hotel. So, I rustled up some Thymosin a1 and started myself on it. By 12 hours later my nose was drying up and I slept pretty well. By 36 hours my energy was back. By 48 hours, I was fine. That’s better than normal. Am I being seduced by my own enthusiasm? Two of my lectures mentioned that they used T-1 for colds. I’ve now done it once. You may want to have it one hand yourself.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is Thymosin-a1? Answer: one of your natural immune modulating peptides that signals your immune system to buck up and do its thing in a balanced fashion.
  2. What happens to it as we age? Answer: We really weren’t designed to live to be 90. It fades with age. In some circumstances, it fades faster. (auto-immune, chronic Hep B, tuberculosis) In some circumstances, it can’t overwhelm the “cytokine storm” of particular infections: severe influenza, sepsis. Ergo: give some back and supplement what you aren’t making on your own.
  3. It has been approved in 35 countries to treat what? Answer: Chronic Hep B and C
  4. Why is this topic suddenly coming up? Answer: The advent of peptide manufacturing inexpensively is a new thing. What used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a few precious micrograms is now produced in an hour by the gram. It’s on the market. Google it. I can show you how to use it.
  5. Does it have any side effects? Answer: Nope. Not in 35 years. It couldn’t. Like asking if thyroid hormone could have any side effects, or estrogen, or testosterone. Oh, get I slight ache where I gave myself the Sub-Q shot. Sorry. One side effect.

Peptide Primer II: BPC-157. Body Protective Compound

References: J Orthopedic ResearchExamineInflammopharmacologyJ Physiol Paris,Life SciMIT NewsCurr Med Chem,

Body Protective Compound is a modestly large protein discovered in mammalian gastric juice. It has a molecular weight of 40,000 and is a huge molecule. After chopping off pieces of it into smaller fragments, a 15 amino acid sequence was isolated that has the beneficial effects that folks desire to use for clinical benefits. There you have it! The ability to manufacture peptides has exploded recently, and naturally, the smaller the better. It’s relatively easy now to plug the formula in for a 15 amino acid sequence and then manufacture pure, compounded peptide results.

What does BPC-157 do? It heals tendons. Tendons and connective tissue are sort of silent little partners that hold us together. As we get older, we heal more slowly. When we exercise and are out of shape, we injure ourselves. When we try to build houses at age 60 and have never done it before, we strain our shoulders, hurt our backs. When we start Cross-Fit after spending a day sitting at a desk, we injure the tendons in our necks and elbows….and where-ever. 
How about when we have surgery? The surgeon cuts through connective tissue and stitches together torn rotator cuffs, twisted knee menisci, strained carpal tunnels..you name it. 

What about GI effects? BPC-157 is stable in gastric juice for a full day. That’s where the big protein was found. It leads to healing esophagitis and all sorts of inflammatory bowel conditions….in animal models. Hmmm….do we have any human studies yet? Precious few. 
Want to get better faster? Then you want a compound that is the natural messenger your body used to have that instructs it to heal itself. You want the peptide your cells are used to seeing that instruct them to do their job and get back in shape. What is BPC-157 doing? Just that. It accelerates the spreading out of tendon fibroblasts by 230% with its effect starting in minutes. It increases survival of new fibroblasts under oxidative stress – that’s code for saying it makes the repair tissue live longer, spread faster, and put stuff together again more effectively. If you want a really deep dive into its physiology read Chang’s nice review from Physiology.org. 
What’s the big picture? To reiterate; as we age we lose the ability to generate hormones, peptides, messengers, exosomes, whatever you want to call it. We don’t make them anymore as we get older. Living longer, better, requires us to be savvy and learn the means by which we can counter the inevitable decline in our ability to heal and repair ourselves from injury. That we live to age 60 is a miracle enough as it is, without the risks we take on of riding bicycles, climbing ladders, lifting weights, painting houses. When we get injured, we need casts and surgery, physical therapists and hospitals, ERs and ambulances…….and the messengers with which we heal ourselves.

Want to get better after surgery, faster? Want to fix that nagging shoulder pain after rotater cuff surgery? Want your tennis elbow to fix? Want to get off GERD medications. Want to cool off your inflammatory bowel disease?

WWW: What will work for me. I’m all in. There has been no known documented toxic side effect of BPC-157. It is made up of amino acids, after all. That’s what we are made up. Hard to be allergic. And when compounded by a compounding pharmacy, that’s the means by which we can legally get a peptide for which we may have profound benefit. I’m taking it right now for my aching neck that awakens me many nights. One week in, I can feel an effect. My foot still aches from falling off the ladder. I don’t know if that will fix, but it’s what is in my sights as an experiment on myself. Side effects? None with me.

Pop Quiz

  1. BPC-157 is what? Answer: A 15 amino acid peptide that is a fragment of a much, much larger protein called Body Protective Compound isolated from gastric juice.
  2. The fragment, BPC-157 does what to inflammed stomachs? Answer: Chill baby, chill. It appears to calm down animal models of GI inflammation dramatically.
  3. How does BPC-157 work? Answer: It turns on the activity of fibroblasts, the healing and growing cells of tendons and connective tissue, and angiogenesis, new blood vessels.
  4. Does BPC-157 have any side effects? Answer: Nope. Not found yet.
  5. Is it legal to get it? Answer: That’s what a compounding pharmacy does. They make “medications”, in this case peptides, to order from component parts. It’s the ability to manufacture proteins with peptide connecting machines that allows this revolution to get into gear.
  6. What’s the standard model of medical advancement? Answer: The randomized placebo controlled trial. Paid for with $ 100,000,000 dollars of pharma money. Not going to happen for a compound that Big Pharma can’t patent.

Peptide Primer: RNA Complexity and Your Operating Manual

References: Science News,NatureNature CommunicationsScience DirectWikipediaScience Direct,

Want to get absolutely lost in the world of biological complexity? Then a deep dive into peptides will suit you fine. If you think your body is a relatively simple machine that needs simple nutrients and support, you may need to reconsider. But let’s give it a try at 30,000 feet to give you an overview of how complex your body is. 
First, what is a peptide? It is a short chain of amino acids. A protein is made by hooking up amino acids into long chains. A peptide is generally considered under 50 amino acids long. There are 20 amino acids used in humans. So, a peptide can be as short as two amino acids hooked together. Glutathione, our own natural internal antioxidant, is three amino acids long: a three amino acid peptide. Insulinis well known. It is a bit over the boundary of 50. It is 51 amino acids long. 

We have the DNA coding for about 22,000 proteins. That’s what makes you, you. But that only takes up between 5-10% of your DNA. What is the other 90%? Till recently it was a mystery. That mystery is being revealed. You have the coding for 300,000 peptides. And very likely, many more RNA molecules. RNA is the intermediate step from DNA to a protein. Your cell DNA can copy itself into an RNA molecule that has the coding to make proteins or peptides. Those RNA molecules then are translated, just like computer code, into the manufacture of proteins, or peptides. That’s what the other 90% of your genetic code is all about. 
The explosion of complexity around the making and regulation of small and large proteins, peptide and proteins, through RNA is mind-boggling. Not only is RNA in each cell, your body packages up RNA molecules and ships them all over in your blood in exosomes. Exosomes are so tiny we don’t have machines that can measure them yet, but each cubic centimeter of blood likely has millions of them in it, each containing up to 20,000 various sized molecules. These little packages of information are being shipped from one cell to another where they pass on the genetic coding or turn on the manufacture of new peptides in other cells. In those other cells, the peptides turn on all sorts of biological behavior.

What is that in summary? Your micro-RNA and your peptides are your operating instructions, your owner’s manual. Some RNA molecules turn into proteins, or peptides. Some RNA molecules block DNA expression. Some RNA molecules act like hormones themselves, turning on various processes. All the actions that make your body work, or get disease, can be traced to the actions of your DNA, expressed through your RNA, expressed through your peptides. 

What’s the implications of all this? Nature isn’t much interested in you what you have passed on your DNA. Time for the next generation to express itself. You may be interested in you, however. As you age, your hormones decline. And…just as importantly, your peptides decline. 
If you want to age well, if you want to avoid disease, if you want to fight cancer and dementia….you may need to have the operating instructions still operating. That takes understanding and managing your instruction manual properly. That takes being open to using new forms of therapy. Micro RNA and peptides are the means by which your body talks internally to itself when you are young. They are in decline as you age. It may be time to consider how to replace them.

WWW: What will work for me. The world of peptide therapy is a wide open, wild swirl of science and exploration. It’s clear that these tiny little proteins are potent hormones and turn on all sorts of cellular processes. You had them once. If you are over 40 and feeling your age, you might well be running out of them and no longer in possession of all your faculties. I have an ache here and there. I broke a foot two years ago and still ache when I stand up. Can I get that better? Goodness, yes.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is a peptide? Answer: A short chain of amino acids, shorter than 50 amino acids long
  2. How many are there? Answer: Probably greater than 300,000, more than the 22,000 proteins that make up your unique genetic code
  3. What are they made from? Answer: Small messenger RNA molecules that are the template to translate them into the 20 amino acids human use.
  4. Where does the messenger RNA come from? Answer: The 90% of your DNA that doesn’t code for your standard proteins.  RNA is copied off your DNA then transported to places where it has its impact.  
  5. What do peptides do? Answer: Along with the RNA, they compromise the complex web of operating instructions that tell your body what to do, when. And as you age, they decline.