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 tendon and ligament 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.
Statistics on tendon and ligament injuries
In the United States, roughly 33 million musculoskeletal injuries are reported per year. Half of those injuries are ligament and tendon injuries, like ankle sprains, MCL and ACL injuries of the knee, Achilles tendon injuries, patellar and quadriceps tendon injuries, rotator cuff tendon injuries, and many more.
It’s also estimated that about 300,000 tendon and ligament repair surgeries are performed each year in the US.
Could peptides help some of those injuries heal without surgery, or 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 tendon 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 tendon and ligament injuries.
Why many tendon and ligament injuries heal slowly or don’t heal well
Many tendons and ligaments in the human body heal slowly, or don’t heal at all, and are often prone to re-tear if they do heal. Tendons and ligaments are largely hypocellular, hypovascular, and hyponeural tissues. In other words, healing of these structures can be haphazard due to the lack of blood supply in the damaged tissue, lack of healing inflammatory cells and nerve supply.
Rat Achilles tendon study
In one study of BPC 157, researchers cut the Achilles tendons of rats. Compared to the severely compromised healing observed control rats, BPC 157 significantly improved recovery measures. The Achilles tendons showed an increased load to tendon failure and significantly higher functionality. Microscopically, the tendons had a greater mononuclear count, less granulocytes, an increase in fibroblasts and superior formation of the reticulin and collagen fibers. On a macroscopic level, defects in the healing Achilles tendons treated with BPC 157 were smaller in size and depth. Full tendon integrity was re-established more quickly and completely.
Rat MCL study
In another study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, scientists looked at the effect of healing of BPC used for rats in which the MCLs – medial collateral ligaments – of the knees of rats were surgically cut.
All BPC 157 regimens, including oral BPC and topical BPC cream, demonstrated a consistent and extensive improvement for MCL ligament injuries. The researchers found improved function, improved biomechanical strength of the ligament, and improved microscopic and macroscopic structure of the ligament. The healing connective tissue organized faster and with better organization. The collagen fibers were longitudinally oriented.
How does BPC 157 work?
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. Remember that game as a kid? 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 tendon and ligament heal in optimal formation and alignment to quickly strengthen the tissue.
Potential uses of BPC 157
Again, most of the studies showing the benefits of BPC 157 for tendon and ligament 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 tendon and ligament injuries in humans. BPC might boost healing and improve pain, function and athletic performance of injuries like ankle sprains, MCL and ACL injuries of the knee, Achilles tendon injuries, tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, patellar and quadriceps tendon injuries, rotator cuff tendon injuries, and many more.
Mode of administration
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 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.
This is not medical advice.
Again, please understand that I am not giving you medical advice. This is meant for general information and educational purposes only.
Banned substance in sports
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 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 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
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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.