Neuropeptides are a class of molecules that allow neurons in the brain to communicate with each other. Many types of neuropeptides, such as dopamine and endorphins, are associated with happiness, pain relief, and reduced stress.
However, not all neuropeptides produced within the human body have such pleasant effects. Some neuropeptides increase stress levels, harm both mental and physical health, and cause inflammation of the skin. One neuropeptide, named Substance P, has been identified as an active cause of the signs of skin aging.
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Substance P is a neuropeptide that transmits signals of pain to the central nervous system. Because the human brain does not contain pain receptors, the release of Substance P into the brain does not cause actual physical pain in the brain. Instead, when substance P enters the brain, it can have a negative impact on a person’s mental state and even trigger depression.
Substance P has a similarly detrimental relationship with skin. When skin is traumatized, for example by a small cut, Substance P is released, and pain signals are transmitted. Along with these pain signals, Substance P activates inflammatory triggers throughout the body. Studies have shown that when Substance P is reduced, stress linked to pain also subsides. Thus, when you reduce stress, inflammation also decreases, which in turn slows down the aspects of the aging process caused by inflammation.
Neuropeptide Y is a great weapon against Substance P because they have opposite effects on the body. Neuropeptide Y increases appetite, improves memory, and most importantly, blocks the production of Substance P and thus its inflammatory side-effects.
Substance P is released simultaneously with several amino acids including glutamate and aspartate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, present in very small amounts, that aids the brain in learning as well as short and long term memory.
Neurons begin to fire across the synapse in an abnormal way when the amount of glutamate increases. In other words, the release of Substance P, which is accompanied by glutamate, is implicated in a process that can actively disrupts normal brain cell function. At very high concentrations, glutamate can cause excitotoxicity, or cell death. This damaging process can lead to several diseases including Alzheimer’s and ALS. This neuron response to glutamate upon the release of Substance P not only causes the death of cells, but researchers believe it may lead to shrinkage of the brain.
Since any type of common mental stress, whether work, family, or emotional, can trigger the release of Substance P in the brain, there is a great deal of interest in protecting against it. Researchers have found a few possible combatants against Substance P damage:
- Excitotoxicity Reducers
Traditional anti-depressants prescribed by doctors can aid in the reduction of excitotoxicity caused by Substance P. However, other fields of research have found that nutrients like pycnogenol and acetyl-L carnitine can also help protect the brain.
Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract that comes from the bark of the Maritime pine found along the southwestern coast of France.
- Is a powerful antioxidant.
- Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Binds to collagen and elastin.
- Aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels.
- Helps delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Relieves depression related to senility.
- Improves memory.
- Maintains cellular energy and metabolism by assisting in the transport of fat through the cell membrane and into the mitochondria.
- Substance P Blockers
Ongoing research is searching for possible treatments that that will help block Substance P entirely. One possible solution is capsaicin, the ingredient in hot peppers that gives them their spicy taste. It is a natural Substance P blocker that can be taken as a supplement or applied to the skin and is already in commercial use as a topical pain reliever. Capsaicin is also used for inflammatory skin ailments such as eczema, shingles, and acne.
- Stress Relievers
In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is looking for a way to reduce their stress level. Since stress leads to Substance P, inflammation, and possible cell death, this goal takes on additional urgency. While it is nearly impossible to avoid stress completely, steps can be taken to minimize and manage it. A moderate daily or weekly exercise routine is a particularly effective means to reduce stress. It relieves tension and even has the power to achieve an anti-inflammatory effect for skin. Other excellent stress relievers include setting aside time for a regular period of calm and meditation. Many people also find that owning and caring for a pet significantly reduces their stress.
Many researchers, including Dr. Perricone, believe that Neuropeptide Y the best treatment for reversing the effects of Substance P on both the skin and mind. Dr. Perricone has developed an exclusive line of neuropeptide skin care products, and a Perricone code to go with it, designed to keep Substance P to a minimum and promote more youthful appearance of the skin.
Although Neuropeptide Y is the most abundant neuropeptide in the brain, researchers are looking for ways to boost production because of its wide range treatment possibilities. Neuropeptide Y promotes appetite, regulates body temperature, and controls the release of sex hormones.
In his book The Perricone Promise, Dr. Perricone calls attention to a study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that illuminates a particularly fascinating use for Neuropeptide Y. According to the study, U.S. Special Forces soldiers, who are known to experience a higher stress level than regular soldiers, also have a higher level of Neuropeptide Y in their central nervous system.
Even though stress has been proved to significantly reduce levels of Neuropeptide Y, the Special Forces soldiers have shown an amazing bounce back to normal levels post-combat. Regular soldiers, however, showed no such rapid return to normal level and were at a greater risk of developing PTSD. It has also been theorized that their high levels of Neuropeptide Y may allow for a Special Forces soldier’s extreme courage and calmness in combat, leading to Neuropeptide Y’s nickname the “calm and courageous peptide.”
See what celebrities think of Neuropeptides in this video: