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What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is a synthetic re-creation of a peptide that belongs to a family of GLP-1A drugs. A short chemistry lesson will help clarify. 

Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins.  Proteins are the building blocks of life.  When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body then uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body:

  • Break down food

  • Grow

  • Repair body tissue

  • Perform many other body functions

  • Our bodies make non-essential amino acids but we must eat foods to provide the essential amino acids

  • Some amino acids are only needed in times of stress or illness

The next step is to understand what a peptide is. A peptide is a chain of 2 to 50 amino acids. Over 7,000 naturally occurring peptides are present in our bodies.  Some of the more well-known peptides are hormones.

  • Insulin

  • Oxytocin

  • Glucagon

  • Anti-diuretic Hormone​


Some well-known hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are "steroid hormones" and stored in the sex organs, while other "steroid hormones" such as aldosterone, cortisol, and androgens are stored and released by the adrenal glands. These hormones are not formed from amino acid chains but from cholesterol chains. 


All peptides are regulated through a complicated feedback system. Like a computer that needs to be upgraded, sometimes the human body fails to make the required amount of hormones or peptides and you will need to get that from a pharmaceutical source.  

What is a GLP-1A?

GLP-1 is short for Glucagon-like peptide 1.  GLP-1 encourages the release of insulin from the pancreas, increases the volume of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells), and reduces the release of glucagon. GLP-1A also increases the feeling of fullness during and between meals by acting on appetite centers in the brain and by slowing the emptying of the stomach.


It has been suggested that too little GLP-1 released after a meal may increase the likelihood of, or worsen, obesity. Since GLP-1 reduces one's appetite after a meal, if the body releases less of this hormone, individuals may eat more during a meal and are more likely to snack between meals.  When this peptide is mimicked by recreating it in a lab, it is a GLP-1 analogue, but in the case of semaglutide, the "a" is short for "agonist," which means the peptide binds to a receptor so it will cause a similar response to the GLP-1 that a person does not have a sufficient amount of to produce the desired effect. 


Source: Society for Endocrinology

How do GLP-1 drugs lead to weight loss?

By providing the peptide the body is insufficiently providing, studies show GLP-1 inhibitors provide major benefits: 

  • help curb hunger

  • weight loss

  • may lower the risk of heart disease

  • blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve (possibly due to the weight loss)

  • multiple anti-aging benefits


Studies found people using semaglutide and making lifestyle changes lost about 33.7 pounds (15.3 kilograms) versus 5.7 pounds (2.6 kilograms) in those who did not use the drug.​


 Source: Mayo Clinic 

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