Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dear Mark: Synthetic Peptides

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering one question from a reader. It’s all about synthetic peptides, small chains of amino acids with potentially huge effects on your health and physiological function. In most cases, these synthetic peptides are based on naturally-occurring compounds found in the human body. Scientists isolate the “active component” of the compound and whip it up in a lab by stringing together the right amino acids. Many of these peptides are available for purchase online, strictly “for research purposes.” But people are using them.

Are these safe for humans? Are they effective?

Mark, I would love if you did a write-up on BPC-157 and LL-37 with regards to gut health. I’m surprised with all your articles on collagen peptides you haven’t written once about “synthetic” peptides. Thanks!

Sure.

Let Me Cover PBC-157 First….

BPC-157 is a partial reconstruction of a string of 15 amino acids that’s already found in Body Protection Compound, a naturally occurring healing compound the body produces. Its creators took the natural BPC and figured out the most “biologically active” section of its amino acid chain, then synthesized that section alone. You can find the real thing in human stomach juice (and presumably throughout the body doing its job). You can buy the synthetic version online.

What Does BPC-157 Allegedly Do?

It enhances healing and recovery from injury. In one study, BPC-157-treated Achilles’ tendon tissues were more resistant to injury, spread more quickly on a petri dish, and recovered faster than untreated tendon tissues.

In another rat study, their cecums—the beginning of the large intestine—were perforated. Applying BPC-157 enhanced healing, stopped bleeding, and sped up recovery.

It counteracts NSAID toxicity. BPC-157 blocks aspirin-induced bleeding and improves healing of NSAID-mediated lesions in the gut, brain, and liver.

Another rat study even used BPC-157 to improve healing from a spinal cord injury. BPC rats regained functional autonomy, had better control over their tails, and were less spastic.

It can treat periodontal disease, reversing inflammation and reducing bone loss.

It can treat colitis, reducing gut inflammation and restoring mucosal integrity.

Briefly looking through all the anecdotes online, most people are using this peptide to heal joint or tissue injuries, which seems to be the best use. Ben Greenfield swears it healed his tennis elbow and hamstring damage. I even saw one person who used it to improve brain health and function after years of stimulant abuse. Some research does show that BPC-157 can restore dopaminergic function in the brain. Some are even reporting restored sensitivity to stimulants (although using a healing peptide just to restore your ability to get high off Adderall again seems counterproductive).

What Are the Downsides?

It must be subcutaneously injected for maximal efficacy. This isn’t as hard as it looks (millions of diabetics do it every day) but some people are really nervous around needles. Orally-active BPC-157 is available, but I’m not sure how it compares.

There is the small problem of the total lack of published human studies. If there are any, I didn’t see them. The animal studies are impressive, though, and the fact that the peptide chain does naturally occur in our bodies suggests it’s relatively safe, but we don’t know for sure.

A big problem is that you can’t verify the purity of the products available online. You have to read reviews, know the right people, and do the research. These aren’t legally intended for human consumption, so there’s no testing authority regulating the safety and content of these products.

Now For LL-37….

LL-37 is an anti-microbial peptide found naturally in people. It’s heavily involved in the immune response, and its role in health isn’t very clear. It isn’t consistently “good” or “bad.” For instance, its presence can suppress tumor growth in colon and gastric cancer, but it’s been shown to promote tumor growth in ovarian, lung, and breast cancers. But it’s also able to bind to and negate the effects of lipopolysaccharide, the bacterial endotoxin secreted by many gut pathogens, and selectively target apoptotic white blood cells while leaving viable ones unaffected.

Why Are People Using It?

There are online forums populated by people who are using this peptide to heal gut issues, deal with inflammatory diseases, and treat autoimmunity—or, they’re at least buying the peptide, injecting it, and hoping that it works and not always following up with the results. I’m skeptical about using these as justification to experiment. As one recent paper put it, LL-37 is a tiny peptide with huge effects:

Some of the functions of LL-37 are anti-inflammatory, particularly those involved in blocking Gram-negative signaling pathways through TLR4. However, in the context of the inflammatory response, this peptide may also provide proinflammatory signals that can propagate inflammation, stimulate type I IFN production, and result in induction of autoimmune diseases. Further research is needed to fully understand the big effects of this little peptide on immune system function so that potential therapeutic uses can be explored.

Sticking Points With LL-37

Much of this could be a guilt by association situation: LL-37 is often found elevated at disease sites and in diseases states because it’s part of the inflammatory response. It isn’t necessarily causing the disease. But the immune response is a delicate one with huge ramifications. I’d be very careful with injecting a peptide that the body normally produces in times of acute inflammation. That sounds a lot like trying to attempt top-down regulation of innate immunity—a decidedly bottoms-up process.  Probably better to wait for human trials rather than rely on positive anecdotes from unsourced forum posts. I’m not saying these people aren’t helping themselves with this compound. I’m saying the risk of complications or unwanted effects would be too high for me.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment down below. Do you have any experience using these synthetic peptides? How about any others?

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5 Gifts I Love to Give

Welcome to this special edition of the Friday 5 (on Thursday)! 😉 I just finished this post, so I figured I’d hit publish a little early!

With the holidays just around the corner, you’ll likely see all sorts of gift guides pop up on your favorite blogs. I’ve created a number of these over the years, but I decided to switch things up and write just one with my ultimate favorite gifts to give for the holiday season.

This round-up includes gifts that I give again and again to family and friends, and they’re ones that always well-received. I hope they give you some great ideas for your own gift giving this year!

1. Chatbooks

You guys might remember me professing my love for Chatbooks in the past, and I’m even more in love now that we’re ready to print another year of memories.

Their hardcover books are really beautiful, and Chatbooks makes it SO EASY to create them, especially if you have an Instagram account. I have a personal account for family photos that we turn into a Chatbook every year, and I also created an Instagram account for Murphy just so we could easily print his photos in like 25+ years when he goes to doggie heaven.

You just load all of your Instagram photos right into their system, select the photos you want, pick a cover, and place your order. Easy as that! (I have no affiliation with the brand at all – just really love their product – but I do get credit if you end up signing up.)

2. New York Times Custom Birthday Book

I love giving this birthday book! The recipient has always LOVED it! It’s a book of front pages from the New York Times from each year since the recipient’s birthday. The customized book is preserved in library binding and personalized with name and date of birth. Isn’t this a fun and unique gift idea?

New York Times Custom Birthday Book

How cool is this (especially for a history nerd)? This book also makes an amazing gift for a birthday as well as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Watch a video that I took of the one that I purchased for my mom for Mother’s Day last year.

3. Fullstar Cutter-Veggie Spiralizer + Vegetable Pro-Food Chopper and Dicer 

I love this kitchen tool so much, and it’s great for a foodie friend, family member, or anyone who wants to get healthier in the new year. It also makes a fun Yankee Swap gift! 🙂

Rewind to a few months ago… I didn’t think I needed yet another kitchen gadget, but my friend convinced me I needed this chopper – and, honestly, it’s been the best $20 I’ve spent in a while. It is a game-changer for meal prep, cutting the time it takes to cut veggies by more than half! You can see it in action in this video.

An air fryer is also a gift that I’ve given a couple of times now, and it was a BIG HIT with its recipients! I mean, you can use it for everything!

4. Beautycounter

Beautycounter always does holiday so well. Their 2019 Holiday Collection is the best yet. There are so many amazing clean skincare and makeup sets, many of which are under $40 and can be split up to mix and match with other gifts. They even have something for the men in your life! I love gifting Beautycounter because the products are high quality, high performing, and the packaging is beautiful as is. Some of my favorites from this year’s collection include: The Jellies (fun for women and girls of all ages!), Glow Getters Trio (including my favorite Overnight Resurfacing Peel), and Lemongrass Body Set (smells heavenly!).

5. Clean wine from Scout & Cellar

Wine is such a great gift to give, especially when it’s high-quality and free of pesticides and other chemicals and junk that conventional wine often has in it. Health-conscious wine drinkers will especially appreciate a nice bottle (or two) from Scout & Cellar. (Read my review and FAQs about the brand.) I’ve given Scout & Cellar to SO MANY family and friends, and everyone is always so impressed with the quality and taste.

Right now, Scout & Cellar if offering some amazing gift box sets. Each set comes in a beautiful holiday gift box with a double-sided full-color wine card with tasting notes and food pairings. Each wine is carefully selected by a sommelier and includes a card with a personalized gift message. Gifting done for you! 🙂 It’s quite lovely. Be sure to check out all of the gift set options – there’s something for everyone!

So what’s not included? The wines are always free of synthetic pesticides, chemical preservatives and added sweeteners. Sign me up!

And, of course, make sure you’re stocked up on (clean) wine for all of your holiday parties and get-togethers. We love Scout & Cellar wines, so we are definitely stocking up for the season. Plus, by purchasing 6 bottles you receive a 5% discount; by purchasing 12 bottles, you receive a 10% discount!

Want to stay in the loop about special offers from Scout & CellarSign up for my Scout & Cellar email list!

Flashback Favorites

Around the Internet

Sales of the Week

Question of the Day

What are some of your favorite gifts to give?

This post contains some affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission from the company if you decide to purchase the product linked to. This compensation helps with expenses to keep CNC up and running. Thank you for your support!

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Thai Crunch Mason Jar Salad

This Thai crunch mason jar salad combines hearty noodles with crunchy vegetables and peanuts plus an amazing peanut dressing that you’ll want to eat on its own. Make this salad on prep day and enjoy it hot or cold when hunger calls. 

Thai Crunch Mason Jar Salad

This salad has been a favorite from Plenty all year long! I finally have the recipe to share. It has layers of noodles tossed in sesame oil (and seeds!) plus crunchy fresh vegetables, fresh cilantro and salted peanuts. It will keep in the fridge for a few days (especially if you go avocado-less or add that at the end). It can even be served hot as a stir-fry (again, hold the avo, cucumber, and cilantro if you do that as garnishes!). This recipe is designed around filling four big wide mouth mason jars, but you could easily make this in one big bowl as well.

The Peanut Dressing

Let me tell you – the secret is always in the sauce, but THIS sauce is just incredible. It’s a lot of peanut, a little sesame, and a little sweetness (from honey and rice wine vinegar). It is thick and so good you’ll want to lick the jar!

How To Make The Thai Crunch Salad

Cook your noodles. These are technically wheat ramen noodles (from Trader Joe’s) but you can use soba noodles or even spaghetti.

You don’t need this much cilantro so use the rest for cilantro pesto!

Short cut: use pre-shredded carrots + cabbage and zucchini noodles to save time on assembly! Then you just have to chop cucumbers and peppers.

The Recipe

Thai Crunch Mason Jar Salad with Peanut Dressing

This Thai crunch mason jar salad combines hearty noodles with crunchy vegetables and peanuts plus an amazing peanut dressing that you’ll want to eat on its own. Make this salad on prep day and enjoy it hot or cold when hunger calls. 

  • 10 ounce pack Ramen wheat noodles (or spaghetti)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp mixed color sesame seeds (white + black)
  • 1 bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup zucchini noodles
  • 1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
  • 1 avocado (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup salted (roasted peanuts)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (grated)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
  • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
  1. Cook ramen according to package until al dente
  2. Toss noodles in 2 tsp of oil and sesame seeds and allow to cool.
  3. For the dressing, combine aminos, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a jar. Add olive oil and blend with stick blender. Pour into a bowl and whisk in heated peanut butter until smooth. Stir in chopped peanuts.
  4. Portion noodles into the bottom third of a large wide-mouth mason jar. Add veggies in layers and top with avocado, peanuts and cilantro.

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Apple Cider Recipe

This apple cider recipe is perfect for sipping around a campfire or holiday fireplace!

Did you know apple cider is a scandalous beverage?

While the earliest recordings of this fabulous liquid date… Read more →



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