Copper peptides are the subject of a lot of talk in the hair loss community, but what are they and what do we actually know about them and how effective for regrowth they really are?
As the name suggests, they contain the element copper, and also three amino acids linked together, which is what makes it a peptide. That’s simple enough, so what’s so special about them?
They’ve only relatively recently come to our attention – it wasn’t until 1973 that Dr. Loren Pickart was able to isolate one.
Initial research into the effects of the peptides suggested that they may well have healing and rejuvenating properties.
Dr. Pickart’s subsequent research has been reviewed, confirmed and built on by scientists around the world and copper peptides have been big news ever since.
Studies have shown that copper peptides play an important part in the healing of wounds in animals.
Further developments have led to the launch of copper peptide-based anti-ageing cosmetic products.
Research is being carried out at the moment which might show that copper peptides can help to reverse the progress of some cancers, heal damaged nerves and work against inflammations. Tests have shown that copper peptides can eliminate wrinkles in skin.
The peptide GHK has been called ‘The Holy Grail’ due to its healing properties and the fact that it is found less in humans with age. This molecule may one day be able to return older humans to a younger biological state.
What Does it Do for Hair Loss?
There have been a number of exciting developments in this field. A particular copper peptide, GHK-Cu has been shown to stimulate hair growth in a number of ways:
- Topical application of copper peptides to the scalp has been shown to strengthen existing hair and stimulate growth.
- Copper peptides have been proven to improve the results of hair transplants.
- Certain tests have shown copper peptides to be just as efficient as minoxodil in the treatment of androgenic alopecia.
- A wide range of tests has shown the molecule to play a role in hair growth in animals, human cancer patients and healthy humans.
It is thought that the role of copper in our bodies includes fighting inflammation, and that it could be that we age – our skin starts to wrinkle, our hair thins and we become weaker – due to the depletion of copper over the years.
When using the GHK-Cu molecule to treat wounds, it was noticed that the hair follicles around the treated wounds were very large.
It seemed that the copper peptide played a role in preventing follicle death and even increasing their size. In light of this, its role in hair growth began to be studied.
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How Does it Work?
GHK doesn’t just get to work on hair growth in one way. It has a number of tools in its box, which it can employ at the same time:
- It has angiogenic properties. This means it improves circulation at capillary level. This is important for hair growth, as each follicle receives its blood and oxygen from a solitary capillary. As we get older, peripheral circulation in the capillaries can deteriorate, which in turn can lead to hair loss on the scalp. GHK-Cu improves circulation at this micro-level, enabling follicles to continue to grow hair normally.
- This molecule, as we have seen, has anti-inflammatory properties. As hair loss is often triggered by an autoimmune reaction, which causes inflammation, this damage can be repaired quickly with the presence of GHK-Cu.
- Perhaps most importantly, in the fight against hair loss, it has been shown that GHK-Cu is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. In simple terms, this means that it prevents your body’s testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which severely damages hair follicles. DHT is the leading cause of male hair loss in the world, and it is no coincidence that hair loss increases as the amount of copper peptides in our body decreases.
- As if that weren’t enough, GHK-Cu stimulates production of another inhibitor protein, which prevents follicles from becoming gradually smaller.
What Evidence is There for It?
The most compelling evidence in favor of copper peptides’ positive role in hair growth was discussed by Dr. Pickart in an interview with Cosmetics & Medicine of Russia.
He discussed his early testing on rodents, providing photographs showing clear, exaggerated hair growth in areas where the molecule had been injected.
He went on to discuss how further testing showed that the molecules enlarged the anagen follicles in rodents, causing extended hair growth.
From there, he discusses Bernard Kalis’ tests on the effects on human follicles and the discovery that they could be converted successfully from the dormant telogen state, to the anagen growth state.
What is the Best Way to Take Copper Peptides?
D.S. Laboratories produces a topical treatment called Spectral RS, which contains a number of ingredients, but is based on copper peptides.
The treatment is claimed to trigger the anagen, or growth phase, in hair follicles, causing hair to grow where it had previously ceased.
Copper peptide serum is popular as a skin treatment, but is becoming more and more associated with hair growth.
Typical copper peptide serums designed for hair treatment will also contain ingredients such as capsicum, which enables blood flow to the follicles, and adenosine, which extends the growth phase of the hair.
Side effects are rare, but there may be allergic reactions.
Copper can be harmful to the body when there is too much present, so it is essential to consult with a doctor as to whether copper peptide serum is suitable for you, and if so, in what dosage.