If you’re having chronic inflammation or autoimmune issues, you need to learn about VIP and see the role it plays in your issues.  This is a good hormone to read about because you can check it in your blood and also increase it with natural means (and a VIP spray if not). I have solved my autoimmunity and chronic inflammation issues that held me down for most of my life, all across my site you can find the research I have compiled that has helped me become the best version of myself, I have also created a simple and easy to read book called SelfHacked Secrets.


Intro to VIP

Vasoactive intestinal peptide or VIP is a hormone produced in many tissues including the gut, pancreas, and suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus (R).

VIP stimulates the heart to contract, causes vasodilation and lowers blood pressure, increases glycogen breakdown and relaxes the smooth muscle of trachea, stomach and gall bladder (R).

VIP increases motility, induces muscle relaxation of the GI tract (lower esophageal sphincter, stomach, gallbladder), stimulates secretion of water into pancreatic juice (such as bicarbonate) and bile, stimulates pepsinogen, and causes inhibition of stomach acid secretion (by gastrin) and inhibits absorption of water from the intestines (R).

VIP, Hormones, And Neurotransmitters

VIP is highest in the morning and this helps it elevate cortisol to wake us up. This is also why cortisol levels are highest when we start our days and lowest in the night when we sleep (R).

VIP likely increases norepinephrine (by stimulating tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme that produces norepinephrine) (R).

VIP stimulates Growth Hormone secretion (R).

VIP stimulates prolactin release in turkeys (R).

VIP: The Good

VIP is an Anti-Inflammatory


VIP decreases most inflammatory cytokines.

VIP suppresses Th1 immune responses and promotes Th2-type responses (R, R2).

VIP decreases TGF-b1 in macrophages (R). 

It suppresses inflammatory cytokines such as TNFIL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-12, IL-17 and chemokines (R).

VIP is needed for immune tolerance.  It increases the anti-inflammatory IL-10 and promotes immune tolerant T regulatory (Treg) cells (R).

VIP inhibits TLR4 and MyD88 activation (R, R2).

In some instances, VIP can boost the immune system. In inflammatory sites, VIP may cooperate with proinflammatory mediators, such as TNF, to induce Dendritic Cell maturation (R).  VIP increased CCL5, which helps recruit T cells (R).

See this great picture that summarizes the immune effects of VIP and MSH.

VIP Protects Against Autoimmune Disease


VIP may help autoimmune/inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn disease, septic shock, uveoretinitis, and experimental models of brain inflammation (R).

VIP has neuroprotective properties.  It raises cellular resistance against oxidative stress and helps neuronal survival (R).

In patients with asthma, there is a loss of VIP from the lung nerve fibers, which results in a closing of the airways (lessens bronchodilation) (R).

VIP has shown potent anti-inflammatory effects in mouse models of arthritis (R).

Patients with early arthritis who are unable to increase VIP do worse, despite receiving more intense treatment (R).

VIP is an Antimicrobial

VIP has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties (R).

VIP displayed antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans (R).

VIP is Anti-Anxiety

VIP injected in the hippocampus exerted an anti-anxiety effect in rats (R).

VIP is Anti-Diabetic


Mice without VIP have elevated blood glucose, insulin, and leptin levels.  They have enhanced taste preference to sweet foods (which is caused by leptin resistance in the tongue) (R).

VIP Increases Fertility

VIP (from the SCN) increases the release of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) (R), which is at least part of the reason why it’s important for fertility.

Female mice deficient in VIP produce about half the offspring of their normal sister mice even when mated to the same males (R).

VIP-deficient females have a disrupted estrous cycle (R).

It’s theorized that this is the mechanism by which disruption of the circadian system reduces female reproductive success (R).

VIP Increases Sexual Function

VIP helps induce penile erections (R).

VIP increases vaginal lubrication in normal women, doubling the total volume of lubrication produced (R).

VIP Improves Circadian Rhythms


VIP is also involved in synchronizing the timing of SCN function with the environmental light-dark cycle (R).

VIP-deficient mice have less strong (i.e lower amplitude) circadian rhythms as well as our of sync clocks with the SCN and other tissue (R).

In the adrenals, circadian rhythms (Per1) were lost in VIP-deficient mice, while in the liver, the most dramatic impact was on the phase or timing of the rhythm (R).

VIP: The Bad

Most of my clients are thin and suffering from autoimmunity or its precursors.

In the research, there is a trade-off between autoimmunity and cancer.

You know: those people who don’t seem to have any chronic inflammatory issues while constantly eating unhealthy food until they’re 50 — except being overweight, of course — until one day they suddenly get cancer.

VIP is an important candidate for being the main biological difference between such people.

VIP May Contribute to Migraines, Eczema

Blood levels of VIP are elevated in patients with Eczema, which may indicate that it can cause the disease (R).

VIP is increased in women with chronic migraines (R).

VIP May Contribute to Obesity


While VIP has some mixed effects, but on the whole, it’s thought to contribute to obesity.

VIP may explain in part why people who gain weight more easily often have lower chronic inflammation.

Anti-obesity effect:

  • VIP inhibits appetite  (via a-MSH or CRH pathways) (R).

Pro-obesity effects:

  • VIP decreases basal metabolic rates (R).
  • VIP stimulate insulin secretion (R).
  • VIP decreases physical activity (R).

VIP Can Contribute to Cancer

VIP combats inflammation and autoimmunity and can cause weight gain, but it also increases cancer risk.

VIP functions as a growth factor, and it has proangiogenic functions in breast and prostate cancer (R).  

VIP increases VEGF and induces other biological mechanisms that induce tumor growth (EGFR and HER2 activation)  and increase the production of cancer genes (c-fos, c-jun and c-myc) oncogenes. There also is mounting evidence that VIP is involved in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer (R).

VIP stimulates prostate-specific antigen (PSA) secretion in prostate cancer (R).

How to Increase VIP

Besides glycine and prolonged fasts, there is insufficient information as to if and how much these methods can increase blood VIP.

If these natural methods don’t work enough, you can also try to get a script from your doc for an intranasal VIP.

1) Glycine

Glycine increased VIP by 3.2X in the daytime, which modulates the circadian rhythm (R).

Bone broth has glycine, but I prefer the supplemental form.  Bone broth and chicken soup make me sleepy.

Buy: Glycine.

2) Nicotine

Nicotine increases VIP in the gut and brain tissue (R, R2,R3).

Nicotine does indeed increase gut flow pretty powerfully.

3) Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Stimulating the vagus nerve causes it to release VIP (R).

See my post on how to stimulate your vagus nerve.

4) Fasting

In a study of 6 young men, fasting for 59 hours increased VIP from 3.6 to 10.2 pmol.1(-1) (R).

5) L-Arginine

Long-term L-Arginine supplementation increases VIP in the rat small intestine (R).

6) Lemon and Limonene

Lemon and limonene increase VIP in gut tissue (R).


Exercise and VIP

VIP is elevated in the blood after aerobic exercise [R].  However, anti-VIP antibodies are also increased, which results in suppression of VIP – and on the whole, it seems like exercise decreases VIP over the long term [R].

Checking VIP

VIP is often low in mold illness/CIRS, which can contribute to a chronic inflammatory state.

I would recommend checking your VIP if you have chronic inflammatory or autoimmune issues.  This article will explain the importance of VIP and natural ways to increase it.

In healthy controls, a median VIP-serum level of 42.44 +/- 2.540 pg/ml (range, 12.9-98.5 pg/ml) was found (R).  In healthy women, VIP averaged 88.5 pg/ml…Normal range: 23-63 (R).

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics


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