What is GHK-Cu?
Everyone wants to look young, but few know about the compound GHK-Cu. It’s regarded as high-interest in the scientific community, due to its regenerative properties. And as you’ll soon find out, GHK-Cu may just be the key ingredient to everlasting youth.GHK stands for the amino acids glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine. It’s a small, naturally-occurring peptide that binds to copper. In the presence of injury, our body produces this compound to accelerate healing and regeneration. GHK-Cu is present in collagen, the main structural protein of connective tissues in the body. One early study described its role in skin repair. Researchers discovered that GHK promotes the production of cells that make up the extracellular matrix.
These cells consist of collagen, as well as glycosaminoglycans and decorin. Glycosaminoglycans prevent the accumulation of damaged proteins and excessive protein breakdown in the site of tissue injuries.Besides being a miracle that can reverse aging, it is also known as a gene regulator. On a molecular level, it interacts with specific types of genes and can either activate or deactivate them. As a result, it’s no surprise that it has been studied extensively across laboratories worldwide. As of today, GHK-Cu has been associated with the following properties:
- Makes skin more smooth, firm, and clear
- Decreases depth of wrinkles and reduces fine lines
- Decreases skin spots and hyperpigmentations
- Promotes wound healing
- Protects the skin from the sun
- Promotes hair growth
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If GHK-Cu is something our body naturally produces then why do we still develop wrinkles and fine lines? Why do we still have skin spots and why do we still need sunscreen for UV protection?
The answer to this question is the same problem scientists have spent years trying to solve: age. Children and young adults have especially high GHK-Cu levels. However, as we get older, our GHK-Cu levels decrease. To put things into perspective, someone at 20 years of age would have approximately 200ng/mL of GHK-Cu. At 60 years of age, this amount goes down to 80ng/mL. As a result, our skin loses its firmness and elasticity as we mature.
Cosmetic Application of GHK-Cu
Fibroblastsare cells that produce the extracellular matrix, which make up the main component of connective tissues. The ability of GHK-Cu to modulate collagen synthesis in fibroblasts makes it an ideal component for many skin and hair products. Even without copper, GHK can increase the number of keratinocytes, which are cells found in the outermost layer of our skin. Additionally, GHK can also increase the expression of integrin – a protein that strengthens cell adhesion.
In one study, a group of women used a facial cream with GHK-Cu for 12 weeks. After the 12 week timeframe, the participants had firmer skin with less fine lines. The depth of their wrinkles decreased, and the overall clarity of their skin improved.
Besides being used in facial creams, it is also effective as eye cream. In another study, 41 women used a GHK-Cu eye cream for 12 weeks.Compared to the group that used a placebo containing Vitamin K, the participants that used GHK-Cu eye cream around their eyes had less wrinkles and fine lines. The density and thickness of their skin also improved.
Products that contain GHK-Cu can also improve skin hydration and skin elasticity. Some studies made use of GHK-Cu encapsulated in nano-lipid carriers. Women that applied these products throughout the span of 8 weeks had 31.6% reduction in wrinkle volume, compared to groups that used a different product.
In hair products, GHK-Cu can improve hair follicle size. It is also known to improve hair transplant success because of its role in fibroblast and keratinocyte proliferation.
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GHK-Cu can Improve Wound Healing
Your body has a natural way of healing itself over time. However, this healing process does not occur unless there is an inflammatory response, such as a tissue injury. As a result, the skin or tissue that results afterwards may appear different, as in the case with scars.
GHK-Cu helps our body to heal faster, by attracting macrophages and mast cells to repair the area of injury. This reduces the amount of free radicals produced in the inflammatory process, which can improve the formation of granular tissue.
GHK-Cu also increases the production of factors that promote blood and nerve vessel growth. Large volumes of blood are an essential component in speeding up the healing process. This is because blood provides the nutrients and oxygen needed by our cells.
As GHK is a gene regulator, it can also inhibit blood vessel growth in the latter parts of the healing process. Without this inhibition, healed skin tissue would be more sensitive to stimuli than usual. This is also why adequately healed skin tissue often lacks sensation. As well, studies have shown that GHK can also promote the growth of nerve cells.
Multiple studies on animals have demonstrated the wound healing properties of GHK-Cu. In scald wounds of mice, administration of GHK-Cu liposomes resulted in better angiogenesis – or blood vessel growth. After application of GHK-Cu, these scalp wounds healed after a minimum of 14 days with minimal scarring.
In thick open wounds of rabbits, application of GHK-Cu resulted in faster reduction of wound size compared to application of zinc oxide and no treatment groups. Researchers noted that neovascularization – or blood vessel growth, performed better for the rabbits in the GHK-Cu group. They correlate this outcome to shorter healing time.
Other Medical Applications
*Unfortunately in 2020, the FDA severely restricted/eliminated the ability to obtain GHK-Cu injectable. Therefore, non-topical applications are not currently accessible.
Acute Lung Injury
Acute lung injury – or ALI, is characterized by severe inflammation that results in tissue injury. If it progresses, ALI can become acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is characterized by hypoxemia, lung edema and difficulty breathing. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of ALI was 1.5 to 100 per 100,000 person-years (Park et al, 2016). Presently, the prevalence of acute lung injury in severe COVID-19 infectees is 30%. Studies have shown the occurrence of ALI can predict the prognosis of a patient (Li et al., 2020).The role of GHK-Cu in acute lung injury has only been studied on animals; however, the results are promising. ALI is caused by excessive neutrophil infiltration in the lungs, and GHK-Cu has been found to counteract this harmful effect. In a similar study performed on mice, researchers discovered that GHK-Cu can reduce TNF-α and IL-6 expression, which are both involved with an inflammatory reaction in the lungs (Park et al, 2016).These early studies give researchers hope. The discovery of these outcomes provides the groundwork for future treatments involving acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – or COPD, is a chronic lung disease characterized by bronchitis or airway inflammation, emphysema and asthma. It is a lifelong illness that requires maintenance medications to decrease the frequency of attacks.
GHK-Cu is a gene regulator that influences the expression of several genes in the human genome. Recent literature has discovered that GHK-Cu can affect the expression of 127 genes in COPD patients. Excessive expression of certain genes can also increase inflammation in COPD, while decreasing the expression of genes that are responsible for repair. GHK-Cu was postulated to reverse this gene expression pattern found in COPD patients, by activating a different pathway.
Researchers have also performed in vitro experiments with positive results. GHK was added to the lung fibroblasts of COPD patients with impaired repair mechanisms. After treatment with GHK, this function was restored (Pickart & Margolina, 2018).
Fibrinogen is a protein manufactured by the liver. In the presence of tissue injury, it forms a clot to stop bleeding. However, too much fibrinogen can also be a bad thing, as it makes blood more viscous and prone to clotting. This results in an increased risk of cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes.
GHK has also been shown to suppress IL-6, a protein regulator needed for the production of fibrinogen. This experiment was observed in vitro and in vivo in mice. Overall, outcomes conclude that GHK can suppress the production of too much fibrinogen. (Pickart & Margolina, 2018).
Any compound that increases cell growth also has the potential to become cancerous – except GHK-Cu. In 2010, researchers explored the anti-cancer properties of over 1000 bioactive molecules. Only 2 substances were able to suppress the metastatic genes; one of these was GHK. On top of not having cancer-related symptoms, GHK can downregulate RNA synthesis in patients with cancer. 70% of genes that are overexpressed have been shown to return to normal after treatment. Based on these outcomes, it appears that GHK isn’t just randomly suppressing and upregulating genes. In fact, it may actually reset the activity of these specific genes, allowing them to act the way they’re supposed to.More specific studies explored GHK’s role in apoptosis – or cell death. Most cancer treatments work by causing cells to die. This prevents cell division, which also prevents tumor growth and spread. In vitro studies show that 24-hour treatment with GHK increases apoptosis by up to 3.3 times in neuroblastoma cells. It also negatively affects the viability and proliferation of malignant cells, which is good news for cancer patients.Aside from playing a role in medical conditions, there are also other uses for this miracle compound. With animal studies, GHK-Cu has shown to have anti-pain, anti-anxiety, and anti-aggression properties. By administering specific doses through the skin, GHK-Cu can reduce anxiety and pain. These outcomes are speculated to be because of GHK’s ability to regulate genes. Of these genes, 7 of them are involved in pain modulation. (Pickart & Margolina, 2018).In the future, these properties may be studied further by researchers and trial experiments. Once we have a deeper understanding of GHK-Cu, it may not be long before it is used as an active ingredient in different types of medications.
Administration of GHK-Cu
As GHK-Cu can penetrate through the outer layers of the skin, topical application is ideal for facial and eye creams. Incorporating GHK-Cu in nano-sized liposomes may also further increase concentration levels in affected areas.
Aside from cosmetic use, people that undergo dermatological procedures, such as laser treatment or chemical peels, can also use GHK-Cu to quicken wound healing.
With regards to safety, GHK-Cu is well-established in sunscreens, facial creams, serums and anti-wrinkle formulations. GHK-Cu has a wide variety of applications. It’s safe, effective, and most importantly, inexpensive.
GHK-Cu topical works wonders for those that are struggling with fine lines, wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation. It acts directly on fibroblasts to repair damaged tissue and keep it looking healthy. Additionally, GHK-Cu restores lost proteins and components to help you return to your youthful self! Call us to get yours today!