BPC 157 is a short peptide chain – essentially a piece of a protein. Its regenerative potential attracted scientists, who are starting to reveal that this peptide may promote muscle and wound healing and counteract the toxic effects of common painkillers. Read on to learn what the science does, and doesn’t, say about BPC 157.
What is BPC 157?
BPC is a protein that is present in stomach acid, discovered in the ‘90s. BPC 157 is a 15-amino-acid-long fragment of this protein that is synthetically produced .
Some studies refer to BPC as “body protection compound,” hinting at its therapeutic potential. Scientists consider it a blueprint for an entirely new class of organ-protective/healing drugs, but research is still in the early stages [2, 1, 3].
How Does BPC 157 Work?
BPC 157 likely promotes muscle and tendon healing by triggering the formation of new blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis (by increasing VEGF). This explains its regenerative potential and why it might also help heal wounds, cuts, and other types of damage in the body [4, 5].
By increasing new blood vessels, it might help with IBD, in which healing of the inflamed gut lining is slow .
Additionally, BPC 157 may promote wound and tendon healing by blocking the growth-inhibiting effects of a specific molecule (called 4‐hydroxynonenal) .
It might specifically help tendons heal by causing tendon cells to make more receptors for growth signaling molecules. This, in turn, allows the tendon cells to grow and move during injury repair, speeding up the process [8, 9].
BPC 157 can also influence the activity of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. In turn, it might help with depression, seizures, pain, and may even promote gut health. More research is needed to understand exactly how it works in the brain [12, 13, 14, 3].
Snapshot of BPC 157
- May promote healing and tissue regeneration
- May reduce inflammation
- May protect organs from toxins and damage
- No published, peer-reviewed studies in humans
- May interact with other drugs and medications
- Potential conflicts of interest for scientists doing the research
Benefits & Potential Uses of BPC 157
1) May Counteract Damage Caused By NSAIDs
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) include over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. Although generally safe if used as directed, these drugs can cause damage to organs like the stomach and liver if taken in high doses [17, 18].
2) May Improve Inflammatory Bowel Disease
There are numerous references, both online and in published scientific studies, to BPC 157 being safe and/or effective in clinical trials of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, results from such studies do not appear to have been published or peer-reviewed.
Some studies in humans with titles suggesting they tested IBD – falsely cited even in the scientific literature – were in fact performed in healthy people (see “Side Effects” section below) [6, 22, 23].
3) May Increase Muscle and Tendon Healing
Similarly, peptide injections improved muscle healing for rats whose muscles had been cut or crushed. This effect even held true when rats were also treated with corticosteroids (steroid drugs like hydrocortisone), which can slow the healing process [26, 27, 28].
4) May Help Healing Burns, Cuts, and Broken Bones
Injections with the peptide also spurred the healing of broken bones in rabbits .
5) May Protect the Brain and Nervous System
Rats given BPC 157 injections after suffering traumatic brain injury had less brain damage, and rats injected with BPC 157 before brain injury were more likely to stay conscious and less likely to die .
In rats with nerve damage in their legs, BPC 157 injections helped the nerve cells regrow and heal .
The peptide also protected mice from drug-induced seizures .
6) May Improve Ulcers and Gut Health
Injections of BPC 157 helped to heal stomach ulcers in rats. It also protected the rats’ intestines from damage due to toxins like alcohol and helped heal gastrointestinal fistulas – abnormal openings in the digestive tract that cause fluids to leak [37, 39, 40, 41, 11, 42, 11].
In one study, BPC 157 injections reduced inflammation in rats with both stomach ulcers and arthritis .
In rats with an inflamed esophagus – the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach – the peptide also reduced inflammation .
7) Tackling Drug Intoxication
BPC 157 might be useful in counteracting drug intoxication.
In rats, BPC 157 given with morphine made the morphine less effective – that is, the rats given both morphine and the peptide were more sensitive to pain than those given just morphine. However, rats given both were still less sensitive to pain than rats given nothing at all .
8) May Decrease Pain
BPC 157 by itself may be a mild painkiller. Rats injected with the peptide experienced less pain to pinching and similar unpleasant stimuli. Notably, this study was testing the effects of BPC 157 alone, not in combination with pain-reducing drugs (i.e. morphine, discussed above) .
9) May Balance Blood Pressure
In rats, BPC 157 had a stabilizing effect on blood pressure: in rats with chemically induced high blood pressure, peptide injections decreased blood pressure. However, in rats given L-arginine, which can abnormally lower blood pressure, BPC 157 increased it .
10) May Help With High Potassium Levels
Hyperkalemia is when blood potassium levels become too high. It’s usually the result of kidney disease, and it can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and even death .
In one study, untreated rats with hyperkalemia died within half an hour. But rats given injections of BPC 157, either before or immediately after getting hyperkalemia, survived and had fewer symptoms .
BPC 157 Side Effects
In one study, 32 healthy male volunteers were given BPC 157 enemas, and these people reportedly had no notable adverse effects. However, important details like dosage aren’t readily available, and enemas are not the typical route of administration [22, 23].
As there aren’t many solid scientific studies in humans it’s unclear exactly what the side effects of BPC 157 are. Animal studies generally report no obvious adverse reactions, though that doesn’t exclude the possibility of unnoticed effects or different effects in people .
Peptides Side Effects
Peptides used to increase muscle mass come with numerous unwanted effects. While there aren’t data to say for sure whether BPC 157 will cause the same, some of the side effects associated with using peptides include [48, 49, 50, 51, 52]:
- Kidney and liver toxicity
- Unusual hunger and weight gain
- Feeling hot or cold
- Blood pressure changes (increase or decrease, depending on the peptide)
- Heart problems like abnormal rhythms
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Toxicity to fetuses
Additionally, many peptides are known to interact with medications. As such, it’s always best to ask a doctor before taking any peptide [48+].
Growing new blood vessels is useful when it comes to injury repair, but it can be dangerous when it comes to cancer. While no studies suggest that BPC 157 increases the risk of cancer, its ability to increase blood vessel growth may feed existing tumors and cause them to spread .
On the other hand, BPC 157 may actually be beneficial for reducing muscle wasting in cancer patients. Research is currently underway .
How to Take BPC 157
BPC 157 can be taken orally or via injection, either subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (directly into the muscle).
Of course, injections of any substance carry their own risks and require medical supervision.
Anecdotally, several users report cycling BPC 157, while others use lower doses over extended periods of time (> 6 months).
In rats and mice ingesting BPC 157 in their drinking water, the typical dosage ranged between 10 nanograms to 10 mcg (micrograms) per kg. The studied dosage for injections in rodents was within the same range [55, 43, 45, 16].
This is equivalent to a maximal dose of around 600 mcg for a 60 kg (132 lbs) adult human.
However, doses often don’t scale between species. Some users report taking lower doses (~250 mcg/day) for pain relief.
Remember that BPC 157 hasn’t been studied in humans. There is no way to know what the safe and effective dosage would be before clinical studies are carried out.
Additionally, many of the animal experiments were done using injections directly into the abdominal cavity, rather than under the skin or into the muscle.
Limitations and Caveats
First and foremost, all of the studies discussed above were performed in animal models and/or in cells in dishes. While such studies can be valuable, mice are different from humans, so it’s important not to assume that a treatment will have the same effect in both species.
Additionally, most of the studies were performed by the same few labs, with the same people listed as co-authors in many studies.
While it isn’t uncommon for a lab that finds an interesting avenue of research like BPC 157 to “take it and run with it,” this does increase the likelihood for bias, particularly when some of the researchers hold patents on the compounds being studied [56, 57].
BPC 157 Reviews & User Experiences
Generally, users of BPC 157 report positive effects. In professional muscle forums, users report that the peptide can help with healing injuries, soreness, inflammation, and tendonitis. One user said, “I give it all the glory.”
Some users have reported getting no noticeable benefit from using the peptide, and many expressed concern over the high cost and confusion at how to use it and what the dose should be. Some also reported unpleasant side effects, primarily constipation. Others are concerned about the long-term safety risks, given that this peptide has not been studied in humans.
Additionally, some users speculated that companies have mislabeled peptides that are cheaper to manufacture as BPC 157, urging caution for others looking to purchase it.
BPC 157 is a peptide that has been reported to have unique regenerative properties, from reducing inflammation to protecting organs from damage to healing tendons and wounds.
Studies in animal models show the promise of this peptide, but clinical studies are lacking.