Semax is a peptide best known for its nootropic, neuroprotective, and neurogenic/neurorestorative properties. It was developed based on the molecular structure of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Preliminary research in cells, animal and small-scale human trials show potential benefits and uses of Semax.
In the U.S. and around the world, Semax is the basis for a number of drugs that are used in clinical practice for the treatment of CNS diseases (ischemic brain stroke, dys-circulatory encephalopathy, optic nerve atrophy, etc.) and to enhance adaptability under extreme conditions in healthy persons.
Some of the benefits of Semax may include:
- Increased attention and short-term memory
- Improved Non-proliferative Diabetic Neuropathy
- Can help during recovery from Stroke/Hypoxia
- Improved Glaucoma Optic Neuropathy
- May act as an Analgesic (pain reliever) by inhibiting Enkephalin breakdown
- Can be helpful in the treatment of ADHD
- Nootropic (cognitive-enhancing) effects
- Neuroprotection: may help protect the brain from various types of stress and damage
HOW DOES SEMAX WORK?
Semax increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. BDNF is among the most active neurotrophins, which are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons in the brain.
BDNF has been shown to play a role in neuroplasticity, which allows nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury and adapt to new situations or changes in the environment. Basically, BDNF helps to support the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth, regeneration, and creation of new neurons and synapses.
Semax also helps reduce the breakdown of enkephalins. Enkephalins are mainly involved in decreasing pain, reducing inflammation, preventing cancer cell growth, and increasing immune cell activity. They also play a role in memory, learning, emotional behavior, and pain. Balanced enkephalins levels are needed to maintain normal brain function. These early findings have led some researchers to suggest that Semax may have some potential as a pain reliever, although much more research would be needed to confirm these preliminary cell-based findings.
Based on what Semax can do for brain function and health, its capabilities as a treatment option are continually being developed.
In one clinical trial, 100 patients recovering from an ischemic stroke added Semax to their conventional recovery therapy. It was reported to accelerate the restoration of damaged brain functions — especially movement-related symptoms. In another trial of almost 200 people with reduced brain blood flow (“cerebrovascular insufficiency”), it was reported that Semax reduced overall brain damage and could potentially reduce the risk of additional future strokes. Semax was generally well-tolerated and caused relatively few side-effects.
Other studies focused on optic nerve disease reported that patients using Semax, when combined with other anti-inflammatory treatments, may have helped reduce the progression and severity of optic nerve disease.
Semax is a prescription from a compounding pharmacy. It comes in the form of a nasal spray which is administered daily. It is most often combined with another peptide called Selank for additive effects.
Gavrilova SA1, Golubeva AV, Lipina TV, Fominykh ES, Shornikova MV, Postnikov AB, Andrejeva LA, Chentsov IuS, Koshelev VB. Protective effect of peptide semax (ACTH(4-7)Pro-Gly-Pro) on the rat heart rate after myocardial infarction. Ross Fiziol Zh Im I M Sechenova. 2006 Nov;92(11):1305-21. [Article in Russian]
Polunin GS, Nurieva SM, Baiandin DL, Sheremet NL, Andreeva LA. Evaluation of therapeutic effect of new Russian drug semax in optic nerve disease. Vestn Oftalmol. 2000 Jan-Feb;116(1):15-8. [Article in Russian]
Shih-JenTsai. Semax, an analogue of adrenocorticotropin (4–10), is a potential agent for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Rett syndrome. Medical Hypotheses. Volume 68, Issue 5, 2007, Pages 1144-1146
Kost NV, Sokolov OIu, Gabaeva MV, Grivennikov IA, Andreeva LA, Miasoedov NF, Zozulia AA. Bioorg Khim. Semax and selank inhibit the enkephalin-degrading enzymes from human serum. 2001 May-Jun;27(3):180-3. Russian.
Meilandt WJ, Yu GQ, Chin J, et al. Enkephalin elevations contribute to neuronal and behavioral impairments in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci. 2008;28(19):5007–5017. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0590-08.2008
Gusev EI, Skvortsova VI, Chukanova EI, Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 2005;105(2):35-40. Semax in prevention of disease progress and development of exacerbations in patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency. [Article in Russian]
Gusev EI, Skvortsova VI, Miasoedov NF, Nezavibat'ko VN, Zhuravleva EIu, Vanichkin AV. Effectiveness of semax in acute period of hemispheric ischemic stroke (a clinical and electrophysiological study). Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 1997;97(6):26-34. [Article in Russian]