Treating Autoimmune Issues with Peptide Therapy
Peptide therapy is part of a newly emerging science of cell signaling amino acid sequences (known as peptides). Peptides hold the master controls of many functions in the body and have far-reaching rejuvenating effects on the immune system. Peptide therapy increases these functions and improves your overall health and wellness through this increased and improved functionality. Treating autoimmune disease with peptide therapy is a new method for treatment that aligns perfectly with a functional medicine approach. But first, let’s discuss autoimmune disease and more conventional approaches to treating it.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
The immune system is the body’s protector against disease and infection. By attacking and destroying infectious organisms, it can be a powerful safeguard against foreign invaders. When we have an autoimmune disease, our immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in our body. In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system begins producing antibodies that, instead of fighting disease or infection, attack the body’s own tissues.
This happens in rheumatoid arthritis, a common autoimmune disease, when the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. People with lupus develop antibodies that affect the joints, lungs, blood cells, nerves, and kidneys. With inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the immune system attacks the lining of the intestines. In multiple sclerosis, the nerves are attacked. With psoriasis, it’s skin cells.
There are many more autoimmune diseases to mention, but in all of them, the body’s immune system is fighting against its own healthy cells and tissues. What these diseases do in our bodies seems simple enough, but the causes of these autoimmune attacks are multifactorial and much more complex. Genetic, environmental, immunological, and psychological factors all play a role in autoimmune disease.
Conventional Treatment for Autoimmune Disorders
More conventional approaches to treating autoimmune disease use anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, immune suppressants, alpha blockers, etc. And, while these medications can be life-saving in certain cases, conventional medications like these can lead to a whole host of other problems, like intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and even infection, to name a few.
This type of approach tends to focus on the symptom (pain, swelling, diarrhea, weakness, etc.) rather than the cause of these symptoms and the cause of the autoimmune disease itself. For example, treating a patients with high cholesterol with a medication that blocks an enzyme that produces cholesterol instead of addressing why cholesterol may be high in the first place is typical of more conventional practices.
Functional Medicine Approach to Treating Autoimmune Disorders
In functional medicine, practitioners look for the cause of symptoms/diseases. If you know the cause of your high cholesterol (diet, exercise, stress, genetics, to name a few), you may be able to lower your cholesterol without having to take a medication that could potentially put you at risk for other symptoms and disease. Functional medicine is a method that is based on an understanding of the way our genes interact with our environment. It is focused on causes, not symptoms. And, it goes beyond just treating a disease based on the name of the disease itself.
Therefore, the functional medicine approach to autoimmune disease takes into consideration much more than what it is that is happening in the body when an autoimmune response occurs:
Why is autoimmunity occurring? What is the unknown trigger that is eliciting this autoimmune response? Why is your immune system out of whack?
Functional medicine practitioners look at a patient’s diet, exercise, sleep, and relaxation habits. They test for allergies, gut health, metal toxicity, and hidden infections (in the teeth and gums, for example). All of this is to look for the source of what is causing the systemic inflammation that in turn causes the autoimmune response in the body.
When your body gets confused and begins attacking your joints, intestines, brain, thyroid, gut, skin, or sometimes your whole body, (as it does when you have an autoimmune disease), it could actually be a hidden infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food, or the stress response which is causing this misdirect. Thus, your body has an innate immune system (your healthy immune system that works properly) and an adaptive immune system (an immune system that has adapted to certain triggers causing inflammation and an autoimmune response). Functional medicine works to bring balance back to your innate immune system by healing your gut, decreasing your toxin exposure, etc.
Treating Autoimmune Disease with Peptide Therapy
A newly emerging approach is treating autoimmune disease with peptide therapy. Many functional medicine practitioners are implementing peptide therapy, as it works as a corrective to an out of whack immune system. Peptide therapy for autoimmune disorders works to balance the immune system through the thymus.
Without getting too scientific, this is the gland in the body that produces the hormone that stimulates disease-fighting T cells (that either attack foreign invaders or your own healthy tissue). By balancing the inflammatory response with peptides, peptide therapy balances the immune response in your body directly at the source of antibody production. In short, if your thymus gland works properly, it will not produce the specific antibodies that are attacking your own body.
Types of Peptides for Autoimmune Disorders:
Thymosin B4 (Tb4)
Tb4 Therapeutic Uses:
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Acute/chronic pain caused by inflammation
- Brain/neurological trauma
- Sarcopenia/muscle loss
Tb4 Clinical Effects:
- Potent anti-inflammatory
- Improves T cell function
- Promotes angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels)
Tb4 Side Effects:
- No documented adverse effects
Body Protection Compound 157 (BPC157)
Body Protective Compound 157 (BPC-157) is a peptide that has been recently studied to produce systemic effects on both the brain and the gut, and repair those systems. It also has protective effects extending beyond the stomach andintestinal tract. It has been shown to benefit: ulcers in the stomach, intestinal damage such as fistulas and inflammatory disorders, bone and joint healing and growth rates, and organ damage. It also has influences on the brain.
- An extremely stable gastric peptide
- Considered a safe anti-ulcer agent
- Noted as a safe treatment in clinical trials for IBD and wound healing
- No reported toxicity
- Acts as a free radical scavenger
- Operates extensively in the immune system
- Powerful anti-inflammatory
- Immunomodulatory (modulates the immune system)
- neuroprotective (protects your brain!)
- Protects and prevents gastric ulcers
- Protects and heals the intestinal lining
- Used in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) exacerbations
These are just three peptides that are being used in autoimmune disease treatment. There are many other peptide therapies being implemented to treat other conditions, such as aging, obesity, thyroid issues, brain health, pulmonary disease, and so much more.
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