Have you heard of BPC 157? In this video, I’m going to discuss this popular peptide, what it is, and its potential role in boosting the healing of muscle injuries so that you get back to sports and exercise quickly and safely.
Please understand, in this video, I am not giving you medical advice. This is meant for general information and educational purposes only.
Muscle injuries in sports and exercise
According to a 2013 study in the journal Sports Health, muscle injuries are the most common injuries in athletes. They make up about 10 percent to 55 percent of all sports and exercise injuries. The vast majority of muscle injuries are contusions or strains of the muscle, while lacerations or complete tears are much less common. The most severe types of muscle injuries can lead to chronic pain, dysfunction, and recurrent tears. Could peptides help some of these injuries heal? Even speed their healing?
What are peptides?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids, or small proteins, so to speak, found naturally in our bodies. The one most people have heard of is insulin. Insulin is something our body naturally makes to handle the glucose that comes from our food. We make peptides naturally in our bodies. In fact, more than 7,000 naturally occurring peptides have been identified in our bodies.
Peptides are involved in almost every bodily action. They are signaling molecules, or communication signals. They are master controllers of functions throughout the body, including hormone production, cell signaling, and cell-to-cell communication. Each one has a specific role. The peptide binds to the receptor of a particular cell, causes that chemical reaction, and then goes away. Peptides have a very short half-life, so they are thought to be very safe. This is one of the key differences between peptides and hormones, like steroids, which stay around in your body a long time and cause all kinds of effects, both good and bad.
We naturally have high levels of these peptides as kids, and as young adults, but our levels decline with age. That is believed to be one of the reasons many muscle injuries occur more often in people in their forties and fifties than in teenagers and young adults.
Understand many of these peptides are still considered “experimental.” The FDA is currently “looking into the pharmacological assessment of peptides.” As of 2018, about 60 peptide drugs had been approved by FDA. Over 150 are in clinical development. Several hundred have been tested in clinical trials. More and more will come out as pharmaceutical drugs by the big drug companies in the coming years.
What is BPC 157?
BPC stands for Body Protective Compound. This is a synthetic, 15 amino acid peptide that comes from human gastric juice – our stomachs.
BPC 157 has received attention as a potential treatment for a number of medical conditions, most notably Inflammatory bowel syndrome and healing of stomach ulcers. But research has shown benefits for musculoskeletal injuries, such as injuries of tendons and ligaments, muscle injuries, nerve injuries, bone fractures, tendinopathies like tennis elbow or Achilles tendinopathy. Some even say that because BPC enhances the nitric oxide pathway, which is a vasodilator, more oxygen is delivered to the muscles, and oxygen exchange in the lungs is enhanced, BPC might improve your endurance. It also might decrease pain in damaged tissues, making it a possible alternative to opioid drugs.
But let’s focus on muscle injuries.
How muscle injuries occur, and common treatments
Muscle injuries tend to occur in one of two ways. The muscle absorbs a sudden, large, direct, compressive force, resulting in a contusion. Or the muscle is subjected to an excessive tension force, resulting in a stretch or even muscle rupture, usually near the muscle-tendon junction.
People in sports medicine often talk about RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation for many orthopedic injuries, including muscle injuries. But there is little evidence that these help muscles heal, and they might be detrimental to healing and post-injury function, especially immobilization. Steroids, either as oral medications or injections, and anti-inflammatory medications, might actually be counter-productive for healing muscles as well.
Sometimes scar formation occurs after significant muscle injuries, complicating healing and return to activity.
BPC 157 improves healing of transected quadriceps muscle in rats
If you cut the quadriceps muscle just above the patella, or kneecap, it often leads to a persistent defect and significantly loss of function. In a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, researchers transected the quadriceps muscles of rats. They found that BPC 157 improved muscle healing, measured in terms of biomechanics, function, microscopic evidence of healing, larger muscle fiber diameters, less muscle atrophy, and macroscopic appearance of the healed muscle. It also appeared to decrease fibrosis, or scar tissue formation, within the injured muscle. They concluded that BPC might have a therapeutic role for muscle injuries.
BPC 157 improves healing of muscle crush injury in rats
In a study published in the journal Surgery Today, researchers tested BPC 157 as a systemic throughout the body and as a local treatment for crush injury of a major muscle, the gastrocnemius muscle complex of the calf. They observed that BPC improved muscle healing. The improvements were seen macroscopically with less hematoma and edema in the muscle and no leg contracture after the injury, microscopically, functionally, and also based on enzyme activity, measured in creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and other enzymes. They concluded that BPC 157, given locally or systemically, accelerated post-injury muscle healing and helped to restore full function.
How does BPC 157 work?
I discussed this analogy in a video on BPC 157 and its role in tendon and ligament injury healing. Another way to look at what BPC might do as it pertains to soft tissue healing would be to imagine the game Pick Up Sticks. When muscle or tendons or ligaments are injured, the body starts an inflammatory process to repair them. The collagen fibers aren’t aligned in a linear or orderly fashion. They are all over the place, like the sticks in the Pick Up Sticks game when you drop them on the floor. These studies suggest that BPC 157 helps collagen formation and muscles heal in optimal formation and alignment to quickly strengthen the tissue.
The need for more research
As you can see from the studies I mentioned earlier, most of the studies showing the benefits of BPC 157 for muscle injuries were performed on animals. We need more human studies, and preferable double blind, placebo controlled, randomized controlled studies on humans. But these animal studies at least suggest that this peptide might help many muscle injuries in humans. BPC might boost healing and improve pain, function and athletic performance of injuries like hamstring tears, quadriceps injuries, calf injuries, and many more.
Mode of administration of BPC 157
BPC 157 is one of the few peptides that works as well by an oral pill as by an injection under the skin. In fact, in the rat study looking at MCL healing, it worked equally well orally and as a topical cream. Typically, you take BPC once a day for up to three months and then take a one-month break, but some advocate using it continuously.
BPC-157 is thought to be very safe. In fact, there are no reported side effects (like most peptides), and no lethal dose has been found. It is also one of the few peptides that works as well by an oral pill as by an injection under the skin.
Again, please understand that I am not giving you medical advice. This is meant for general information and educational purposes only.
BPC 157 is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency
Another important point to recognize is that as of January 1, 2022, BPC 157 is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. That might not matter to recreational athletes, weekend warriors, and otherwise physically active people, but if you compete in a sport with drug testing, it’s important to know that you could test positive and be sanctioned if they screen for BPC.
The FDA and BPC 157
Therapeutically, BPC-157 is not currently approved by the FDA for use as a human drug. BPC-157 is legal for use in the US (though may have different rules in other jurisdictions), but is only available via prescription.
Where to get BPC 157
You have to have a prescription from a doctor for BPC 157, and you usually get them from your doctor. If you buy them online, unless it is a physician that performs telemedicine visits, the “peptides” from most of these online sites often contain little or no peptides but potentially a lot of harmful fillers.
Links to studies mentioned in the video
If you would like to read the studies I mentioned in the video, here are links to them:
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See me as a patient
If you have a tendon or ligament injury and you want to see someone who truly knows about bone and joint injuries in athletes and active people, I’d be happy to help. I’m a double-board certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist. I’d love to talk to you about all your options to recover from injury, not just surgery, cortisone shots, and physical therapy. Go to the Contact page to make an appointment to see me.
I’m Dr. David Geier. Thank you for watching, and I look forward to helping you feel and perform Better Than Ever.