In addition to steroid hormones, our bodies produce peptide hormones. These are water-soluble amino acid chains produced by the brain that work to control body functions by initiating biochemical reactions.
Peptide hormones come in different forms:
Neurotransmitters (Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine)
It’s interesting that each of these natural, human peptide hormones have pharmaceutical or illegal drug copies. For example, When someone is depressed, they are usually low in serotonin – so they are prescribed an anti-depressant which is essentially a “fake” man-made version of serotonin. If someone is addicted to cocaine, they are probably low in Norepinephrine – as cocaine mimics this hormone in the brain. If someone is diabetic, they’re insulin may be really high in an effort to balance out their blood sugar level. If their body gets tired and slows insulin production, they are given a man-made insulin shot. Many people are on thyroid medication to aid in hyper or hypo thyroid conditions…and the list of examples goes on and on…
Each of these peptide hormones affect the skin if they are too high or too low. Again, the key to healthy and beautiful skin is a healthy and balanced body. There is a way to balance these peptide hormones by aiding the body in producing more or less of each, as needed. It involves severe lifestyle and diet changes however, so it’s not usually recommended by traditional western medicine and not the “quick fix” that’s sometimes needed or wanted. The best thing to do would be to have hormone (steroid and peptide) checked (especially cortisol, insulin, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels.) The tests are evaluated using a system of so-called normal ranges, which don’t give an accurate result. However, you can request the copies of your test results and give them to a Naturopathic Doctor (or other trusted, licensed professional specializing in Holistic Health) and use them, along with your “symptoms” to effectively balance any levels that are too high or too low.
How do these hormones affect skin?
When peptide hormones are off balance, they can cause symptoms to show up in the skin.
Thyroid – When thyroid is too high (hyperthyroidism) the skin main be prone to hyperpigmentation, thickening, or flushing. If thyroid is too low (Hypothyroidism) skin appears pale, cold, dry, flaky and puffy and is more prone to wrinkles and bruising.) Topical Vitamin A Can be used to help Hyperthyroid issues in the skin, and Iodine internal supplementation can be used to aid in the balance of both hyper and hypo.
Insulin – This is quite possibly, other than thyroid, the most important hormone in the body. Insulin is a growth hormone, aiding in building up cells. If you have insulin imbalance, you may experience weight gain, a beer belly, even high blood pressure or diabetes. High insulin can also spike cortisol levels, making matters more complicated for your body. Excessively high insulin levels promotes the following skin symptoms: acne, oiliness, hyperpigmentation, melasma, skin tags, dark and thick patches in skin creases, etc. easy steps to balance insulin include, elimination of refined grains and sugar, and supplementing the diet with Zinc, B-Complex, Alpha Lipoic Acid, SAM-E, and more. It’s always suggested to get insulin levels tested first by a Naturopath and then devise a plan of health together.
There is an additional set of peptide hormones not yet mentioned. They are small chain peptides, and they are the most beneficial for the skin. These are the peptides used in topical skincare treatments and products.
They are “short amino acid combinations that affect cell, nerve and muscle chemistry – relaxation, contraction, growth, secretion, etc. Skin is a target organ for peptide hormones. many peptide hormones are produced in the skin (mediating pain, itch, inflammation, metabolism, etc.)” – Benjamin Fuchs, R.Ph.
Peptides provide ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) energy, the energy our body needs to heal, reproduce, or do anything. They do this by breaking their bonds once in the body. When these bonds are broken apart, ATP energy is released and immediately used by the body. This is important for the skin because the skin cells require loads of ATP to heal damage, improve metabolism, produce collagen, and more.
Certain peptides also have unique functions for skin health, such as muscle relaxation, inflammation reduction, and stimulation of cell production. This is explained further in Are Peptides The New Superhero For Aging Skin?
Due to their size, these peptides are difficult and expensive to isolate and use effectively in skincare. You may find that active, professional peptide skincare products are a higher price point that other products. Be sure you are getting the highest quality peptide products so that you get what you pay for. bien-etre recommends Sanitas Skin Care Peptiderm Anti-aging Serum and Sanitas Skin Care Peptiderm Eye Treatment as they are both highly concentrated, biogenic products containing three different small chain peptides, along with other skin beneficial ingredients.