Melanotan I: The Consciousness-Enhancing Peptide
By Jay Campbell
February 25th, 2021
We are in the middle of manifesting a Golden Age where the collective vibration of humanity is expanding faster than at any point in our recorded history.
This goes far beyond any acceleration of technological progress… when the entire population makes the conscious choice to raise their vibration, it is virtually effortless for the world to become a better place:
“People at this level [Energy Level 200: Courage] put back into the world as much energy as they take; at lower levels, populations as well as individuals drain energy from society without reciprocating. Because accomplishments result in positive feedback, self-reward and esteem become progressively self-reinforcing.
This is where productivity begins. The collective level of consciousness of mankind remained at 190 for many centuries and, curiously, only jumped to its current level of 207 in the 1990s.”
There are many paths you can take to expand your consciousness – meditating, grounding, improving your health, or any other spiritual practice where you do the inner work of releasing any trauma, guilt or shame.
Yet it seems as if there are very few pharmaceutical means towards reaching a higher level of spirituality.
And as much as I like 5-MeO DMT, it can also be an extremely dangerous compound for those who are ridden with fear.
I’d like to talk about another compound that I believe is much safer and more accessible: The therapeutic peptide known as Melanotan I.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about this peptide works and the mechanism through which it can enhance your consciousness.
What is Melanotan I?
Melanotan I (a.k.a. MT-1, M1) is a 13-amino-acid long peptide that is a synthetic analog of the naturally-occurring melanocortin peptide hormone called “alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone” (α-MSH).
It rose to prominence in the 1980s as a result of the work done by researchers based in the University of Arizona:
“Researchers there knew that one of the best defenses against skin cancer was a natural tan which has been slowly developed over weeks. They hypothesized that an effective way to reduce skin cancer rates in people would be to induce the body’s natural tanning system to produce a protective tan prior to UV exposure.
They knew the body’s naturally occurring hormone α-MSH caused melanogenesis, a process by which the skin’s tanning cells (melanocytes) produce the skin’s tanning pigment (melanin)”
Unfortunately, the body’s own α-MSH was too unstable in the body and its extremely short half-life made it practically unusable.
So after extensive testing and development that involved the synthesis of hundreds of molecules, scientists struck gold when Melanotan I was formulated:
“Afamelanotide, the first α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) analogue, synthesized in 1980, was broadly investigated in all aspects of pigmentation because its activity and stability were higher than the natural hormone [up to 26 times more potent].
… Promising therapeutic results were published in polymorphic light eruption, erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), solar urticaria, Hailey–Hailey disease and vitiligo”
While Melanotan I has been designated as an orphan drug by the FDA and European authorities since 2008, it remained as an unknown peptide for a very long period of time until human studies were conducted in EPP patients (a devastating skin disease you’ll learn about later in this article).
Eventually, Melanotan I has received regulatory approval from numerous medical agencies over the past decade:
“Afamelanotide was approved by the EMA for the symptomatic treatment of erythropoietic protoporphyria in 2014, and was recently approved by the US FDA (October 2019) and the Australian TGA (October 2020) for this purpose.”
You read correctly: The only way you’ll find it is in the form of a prescription medication known as Afamelanotide (SCENESSE), developed and manufactured by Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals.
So where does all of this fit in when it comes to darkening your skin and elevating your consciousness?
How Does Melanotan I Work?
Melanotan I may be a synthetic analog of naturally-occurring α-MSH, but some slight structural changes make it more effective in delivering its intended outcome:
“Afamelanotide differs from endogenous α-melanocyte stimulating hormone at the fourth and seventh amino acid residues, increasing its resistance to immediate degradation and increasing its binding time to melanocortin-1 receptor [i.e. improved potency, a longer half-life, and greater stability].
Afamelanotide mimicks the pharmacological activity of α-melanocyte stimulating hormone by binding to the melanocortin-1 receptor [MC1R] on melanocytes [skin cells that produce melanin] and activating the synthesis of eumelanin.
Eumelanin provides photoprotection through mechanisms including, but not limited to, the absorption and scattering of visible and UV light and antioxidant activity [via scavenging of harmful free radicals].”
Keep in mind that there are multiple types of melanin, so it’s important to increase the production of the right type:
“The brownish-black pigment, eumelanin, is believed to convey protection from sun damage, whereas the reddish, sulfur-containing pigment, pheomelanin, is often expressed in light-skinned individuals who report poor tanning and burning in response to sunlight.
Such poorly tanning, easily sun-burning populations (termed type I-II by the Fitzpatrick scale) typically posses mutations in the MC1R gene and are generallythought to be at greater risk of developing skin cancer”
As you can tell, Melanotan I’s effects are very specific to the receptors associated with skin pigmentation.
And as I wrote in The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible, melanin is necessary for skin protection:
“The more melanin you have, the more protection your skin has against the sun. This subsequently reduces ultraviolet damage done to your skin.
Both of these peptide hormones increase production of the hormone melanin, allowing for the skin to naturally darken when exposed to the sun’s UV rays”
This is a sharp departure from Melanotan II’s mechanism of action, which targets multiple melanocortin receptors and thus leads to additional outcomes:
“Melanotan II is a non-selective agonist of the melanocortin receptors MC1R, MC3R, MC4R, and MC5R
“MC3R and MC4R are likely targets for controlling body weight; MCIR may be used in the treatment of inflammation and MC2R for the treatment of glucocortical deficiency. A role for MC5R still remains unclear, but the evidence suggests an exocrine gland function.”
Put another way, Melanotan I tans you more naturally (relative to your maximum allowable tan) – unlike Melanotan II, you get a more gradual tan and a more uniform color based on your skin tone:
“Significant tanning of the forehead, arms, and neck was noted following [intravenous] or [subcutaneous] dosing. This effect peaked at 1 week following drug administration but was still present 3 weeks after completing the ten-dose regimen” (Source)
But as you’ll see in the next section, increasing melanin production does a hell of a lot more than making your skin darker.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Melanotan I
Despite Melanotan I’s history of several decades, you’ll only find 220 studies pertaining to the peptide on PubMed between 1980 and the present day.
The results don’t get much better for Afalemanotide, spanning 57 studies between 1993 and 2021.
Very few of these studies specifically point to the therapeutic power of Melanotan I and its applications in humans, but I can promise you the five benefits listed below are manifested to a powerful degree
Let’s dive deep into the science of Melanotan I!
Melanotan I Can Dramatically Expand Your Conscious Awareness
I truly believe that this is the greatest benefit you will receive from using Melanotan I, yet it also seems like an extraordinary reach given what little modern science knows about the subject of consciousness.
The best yet most succinct explanation I could find comes from Dr. David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force:
“Each of us possesses a computer far more advanced than the most elaborate artificial intelligence machine available, one that’s available at any time—the human mind itself. The basic function of any measuring device is simply to give a signal indicating the detection by the instrument of slight change.
…the reactions of the human body provide such a signal of change in conditions… the body can discern, to the finest degree, the difference between that which is supportive of life and that which is not”
(For a beginner’s overview on consciousness, I highly recommend watching this podcast I did with Dr. Yusef Smith)
So how exactly does Melanotan I expand your conscious awareness and provide you with a greater level of spiritual connectivity?
I believe the answer lies in the peptide’s ability to increase your body’s production of melanin, as described earlier.
As I mentioned in The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible, my theory stems from the brilliant work done by Dr. Frank Barr:
“The hypothesis is advanced that (neuro)melanin (in conjunction with other pigment molecules such as the isopentenoids) functions as the major organizational molecule in living systems.
Melanin is depicted as an organizational “trigger” capable of using established properties such as photon-(electron)-photon conversions, free radical-redox mechanism, ion exchange mechanisms, and semi-conductive switching capabilities to direct energy to strategic molecular systems and sensitive hierarchies of protein enzyme cascades.
Melanin is held capable of regulating a wide range of molecular interactions and metabolic processes…”
“Melanin’s role in embryological organization and tissue repair /regeneration via sustained or direct current is considered in addition to its possible control of the major homeostatic regulatory systems—autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immunological. “
Keep in mind that this is esoteric science which has not been extensively studied.
All I can do is directly report on my near-decade experience with using Melanotan I, which I talked about in Living A Fully Optimized Life:
“[It] has manifested itself in his overall productivity, and an improved ability to read voraciously and recall vast quantities of information.
“[Melanin] has the ability to stimulate the pineal gland.
The pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin (primarily during the hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.), which literally bathes the brain and creates the chemical condition necessary for “inner vision” to take place.
It is Jay’s belief (based on empirical observation of his own life) that using [Melanotan I] has helped significantly in his spiritual evolution and connection to “WHAT IS” (a.k.a. his inner knowing or the soul).”
To make a very long story short… Melanotan I is the most accessible way I know to directly experience the life-changing magic of higher vibration and expanded consciousness.
Melantaon I Gives You A Darker Yet More Uniform Skin Tan
With the increased production of melanin also comes healthier and darker skin, which is one of the reasons why Melanotan I is so widely used by bodybuilders and in-the-know biohackers who want to tan without getting unsightly “sun lines”.
One study involving eight young men using three different daily doses of Melanotan I over a period of 10 days, and the results were astounding at a lower dose:
“All subjects tanned during the course of the trial, but there was no evidence of improved tanning beyond that obtained at the 0.16 mg/kg dose .
The most responsive site of skin darkening was the forehead, followed by the cheek, chin, neck and forearm. The anterior leg and buttock did not darken.
There were no toxicities of grade 2 or more by World Health Organization (WHO) criteria at the 0.16 mg/kg dose, whereas the two higher doses produced moderate gastrointestinal upset and some mild to moderate fatigue”
Another study involved combining Melanotan I with either sunlight exposure or selective application of UV-B, and it turns out the peptide works synergistically with both methods:
“Tanning in the first study was achieved in 3 of 4 subjects receiving MT-1, and these subjects also had 47% fewer sunburn cells at the irradiated neck site [Daily Melanotan I use mixed with UV-B exposure to neck
More skin sites darkened with the higher dose of MT-1 in the second study [Daily Melanotan I use mixed with UV-B exposure to the buttocks]
In the third study, there was significantly enhanced tanning of the back in the MT-1 group, and this was maintained at least 3 weeks longer than the tanning in the sunlight-only controls, who required 50% more sun-exposure time for equivalent tanning [Daily Melanotan I use mixed with sunlight exposure to the back]”
Not only does Melanotan I work incredibly well on very fair-skinned people, but it also offers protective effects to the skin against harmful UV light damage:
“We have recently completed a double‐blind, randomized controlled study in 80 healthy Caucasian adult subjects. A fixed dose of Melanotan (0.16 mg/kg/day) or placebo in a 3:1 ratio was given as three cycles of daily subcutaneous injections over 10 days each month for three consecutive months.
Results demonstrated that a highly significant increase in skin melanin was attained in all subjects on active treatment compared with placebo, and this was especially pronounced in subjects with lighter skin types (Fitzpatrick I and II; P<0.0001). In these latter subjects, significant sunburn protection was also determined.
The ability of Melanotan to stimulate melanin production without the associated UV‐induced skin damage may prove a useful adjunct to current photoprotective strategies to stem the marked rise in skin cancer incidence”
These results are even seen in frogs, where the skin-darkening effects can remain for up to 90 days after injecting Melanotan I implants:
“The reflectance readings demonstrated a prolonged skin darkening for up to three months as evidenced by the decrease in the luminance values from 0 to -4.82.
A 2.5-fold increase in eumelanin levels was observed after one month and the increased pigmentation lasted for 3 months… the increase in pigmentation, especially the increased eumelanin levels, could provide protection from ultraviolet radiation.”
To summarize: Melanotan I offers increased skin pigmentation (i.e. a darker yet uniform skin tan) without requiring excessive UV exposure via lying for hours in the sun or spending too much time in a tanning bed, thus lowering one’s risk of skin burns and/or skin cancer.
If you want some visual “before and after” pictures directly demonstrating Melanotan I’s tanning power, I implore you to look through the following testimonials:
- A darker skin tan after just 11 days of daily Melanotan I use
- One man’s transformation that looks like he came back from two weeks in the Caribbean
- After two weeks of twice-a-day dosing and using a tanning bed for 5-10 minutes twice a week, this man’s Melanotan I results are phenomenal
- Before-and-after results for both a male and a female
Melanotan I May Be Effective for Treating Vitiligo
You may not know what vitiligo is when you first hear about it, but I’d bet good money you’ve seen at least a few individuals who are affected by this skin abnormality:
“Vitiligo is caused by the lack of a pigment called melanin in the skin. Melanin is produced by skin cells called melanocytes, and it gives your skin its colour.
In vitiligo, there are not enough working melanocytes to produce enough melanin in your skin. This causes white patches to develop on your skin or hair. It’s not clear exactly why the melanocytes disappear from the affected areas of skin.”
For reference, here’s what it looks like:
As it turns out, Melanotan I may be an effective means for restoring the skin back to a uniform pigmentation:
“The premise of the treatment the knowledge that patients with vitiligo exhibit defects in the melanocortin system, which manifest as decreased levels of α-MSH in both systemic circulation and skin lesions.
A 55-patient phase I/II study showed that when used in conjunction with NB-UVB, a 7- to 10-day release implant of 16 mg afamelantotide produced faster repigmentation of facial and upper extremity lesions than NB-UVB alone. Adverse reactions included hyperpigmentation of normal skin, nausea, and abdominal pain.”
A much smaller trial also produced some promising results, although the reporting was done before the study reached full completion:
“Patients were treated 3 times weekly with NB-UV-B and starting in the second month received a series of 4 monthly implants containing 16 mg of afamelanotide. Afamelanotide induced faster and deeper repigmentation in each case.
All patients experienced follicular and confluent areas of repigmentation within 2 days to 4 weeks after the initial implant, which progressed significantly throughout treatment. All patients experienced diffuse hyperpigmentation”
Not something I would directly recommend until further studies are done, but so far it looks promising!
Melanotan I Can Help Treat Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP)
This benefit may not be directly relevant to you, but it is the sole reason why Melanotan I exists as an FDA-approved drug under the name Afamelanotide (a.k.a. Scenesse).
I mentioned this disease briefly in the introduction, but let me expand further on how debilitating this skin condition can be:
“Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) is a rare inherited metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme ferrochelatase (FECH), which results from changes (mutations) in the FECH gene. Due to abnormally low levels of this enzyme, excessive amounts of protoporphyrin accumulate in the bone marrow, blood plasma, and red blood cells”
“The major symptoms of these disorders is severe pain on exposure to sunlight and some types of artificial light, such as fluorescent lights (phototoxicity). On sun exposure, patients may first experience tingling, itching, burning of the skin. After continued exposure to light, the skin may become red and swollen.”
I won’t dive too deep into the multiple studies vouching for Melanotan I’s use against EPP, but I’ll just briefly summarize what a 2020 systematic review has to say:
“Clinical studies in EPP showed that afamelanotide treatment significantly increased exposure to sunlight and quality of life [along with less severe phototoxic reactions. In our clinical experience afamelanotide treatment is much more effective in clinical practice than demonstrated in clinical trials and should be made available for all EPP patients meeting inclusion-criteria.”
The therapeutic benefits are long-lasting without any severe side effects, as shown in a three-year observational study:
“Before treatment, the PBTT [phototoxic burn tolerance time] was median 10 min (IQR 5–20). Under treatment, PBTT increased to median 180 min. Individual PBPF [phototoxic burn protection factor] increased 1.8- to 180-fold. The pain severity of the worst phototoxic reaction before treatment was median 10 and under treatment median 6.
QoL [quality of life] at the end of the observation period in 2018 (with all the assessed patients under treatment) was 81.4%. A 97.4% treatment adherence rate was observed.”
And if you want to go even further, another 8-year observational study confirmed the results presented above.
It’s sad to see Melanotan I fail to be approved for tanning your skin or enhancing your skin consciousness, but an FDA approval should tell you everything you need to know about how effective this peptide can be.
Melanotan I Shows Potential In Treating Other Conditions
I seriously doubt Melanotan I’s uses will expand beyond the previous four mentioned, but I want to highlight some of the other therapeutic applications it could become better-known for in the future:
- Treating other skin diseases such as acne, Hailey-Hailey disease, solar urticaria, and more
- May be protective against neuroinflammation (i.e. chronic inflammation in the brain)
- Currently under investigation for “regenerating DNA of skin exposed to ultraviolet (UV) damage”
All I can say is that Melanotan I has a very bright future, both in the medical community and the underground bodybuilding world
The BEST Dose of Melanotan I For Expanded Consciousness and Darker Skin
The optimal dose of Melanotan I depends entirely on what you are using it for, so here are some recommendations from myself and other trusted experts.
Enhancing Consciousness: A minimum effective dose (MED) of 0.25 mg injected subcutaneously 1-2 times in the morning per week
I have been using Melanotan I on and off for close to 10 years, and can confirm this is the appropriate dose to use year-round for maximizing conscious awareness while minimizing any potential side effects.
Skin Tanning: 0.5 mg injected subcutaneously twice per day, increasing the daily dosage to 1.5 per mg by the 3rd/4th day and then stopping after one week.
I recommend doing this no more than 8 months out of the year.
Sunlight exposure (i.e. UV-B exposure) while using Melanotan I is imperative if you want the fastest and longest-lasting results from tanning.
Alternatively, world-renowned peptide physician Dr. William Seeds recommends a subcutaneous injection of 200 mcg once per day for a week, adjusting the dose according to pigment changes and then transitioning to 100 mcg twice a week after pigment stabilization.
And while I don’t wholeheartedly believe in dosing based on a specific shade of skin color, this small guide is helpful for anybody who insists on making this kind of adjustment.
Immunity: I personally do not use Melanotan I for this purpose, but Dr. Seeds recommends 200 mcg injected subcutaneously once per day for 6-8 weeks until the clinical effects are more pronounced.
He claims that while Melanotan I is very effective with autoimmune conditions, a positive side effect of sexual stimulation can be seen (especially at higher doses of 500 – 1,000 mcg).
Overall, Melanotan I’s use is straightforward and the results will come if you use the peptide appropriately.
Melanotan I’s Side Effects and Safety Profile
On the one hand, my personal experience with using Melanotan I – along with the observations of my private coaching clients – is that noticeable side effects are virtually nonexistent.
Short of a temporary head rush and/or minor flushing sensation at the site of injection, I failed to witness any serious adverse events when Melanotan I was used responsibly as per my dosing recommendations.
This was confirmed by a clinical review of Melanotan I, where the overwhelming majority of severe side effects can be directly attributable to improperly sourcing the peptide:
“Side effects observed in clinical trials are largely minor. Long-term health outcomes are as yet undocumented.
Much of the harms related to melanotan use are associated with online sourcing of unregulated products… The counterfeit PIEDs market and polypharming practices amongst users must be considered in reports of harm.”
But keeping consistent with my brand of full and open transparency, I need to share what other people have reported:
- Possible formation of new moles and darkening of existing moles with the UNREGULATED use of Melanotan I (i.e. poor peptide quality, although some people report that moles and freckles fade away after discontinuing use of Melanotan I)
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia: “Side-effects include darkened skin, increased moles and freckles, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, flushing of the face, involuntary stretching and yawning, and spontaneous erections.”
- “Patchy loss of pigmentation” following 50 mg of Melanotan I used over two months (a CLEAR mis-use of the peptide)
- One individual case report of a 23-year-old man developing malignant melanoma (although this comprehensive safety report examining multiple studies failed to find a definitive link)
In the book Peptide Protocols (Vol. 1), Dr. William Seeds introduces some very specific instances where Melanotan I should not be used:
- Do not use if there is a personal or family history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer
- Melanocortins may increase blood pressure. Use with caution if hypertension is present
- It is NOT recommended to use a melanocortin agonist concurrently with a PDE5 inhibitor in men due to risk of priapism
But as you can clearly see, side effects are Melanotan I are very rare to come by if you don’t use it like an idiot.
How is Melanotan 2 Different from Melanotan 1?
Given my most recently published article on Melanotan I (M2) you may be curious about the difference between the two peptides and when to prefer one over the other.
I’ll just list them here, as they are more similar than different with some notable exceptions:
Mole and freckle formation: Melanotan II is more commonly associated with increased mole formation and darkening of existing ones than Melanotan I (which is why I personally prefer Melanotan I, although some people overcome this by using Melanotan II in microdose fashion.
Skin tanning: As I wrote previously on this website, “the difference between M1 and M2 [with respect to skin tanning] is slight, with M1 being subtler and more natural in effect than M2 [and possibly taking longer to achieve the same level of darkened skin].”
Spontaneous erections in men: Melanotan II is the better choice for sexual stimulation, as the side effect is more pronounced – and investigated more thoroughly in clinical science – compared to Melanotan I.
Pharmacodynamics: M1 emulates the ACTION of the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and emulatesthe effect of naturally produced melanocyte, while M2 emulates the EFFECT of naturally produced melanocyte and is a shorter version of M1.
Side effects: Based on personal experience and what the overwhelming body of evidence suggests, the side effects seem to be milder and less frequent with Melanotan I than Melanotan II… then again, only the former has the stamp of approval from the FDA.
Other differences: Melanotan II has the additional effects of appetite suppression and fat loss, as evidenced in some rat studies (read the article I wrote for more information)
Your choice of Melanotan I or Melanotan II fundamentally comes down to the specific outcome you are looking to achieve with either peptide.
The #1 Source to Buy Pharmaceutical-Grade Melanotan I
Due to Melanotan I’s status as an FDA-approved drug that is specifically prescribed for “adult patients with a history of phototoxic reactions from erythropoietic protoporphyria”, you will not be able to source it from a reliable vendor.
At least not at pharmaceutical-grade quality, which is the minimum standard you should be looking for when purchasing therapeutic peptides:
“New methods were developed and validated to determine the identity, contents, and purity of samples of melanotan II, a synthetic melanocortin receptor agonist, sold in vials as injectable skin‐tanning products that were purchased from three online shops”
“Vials from two shops contained unknown impurities ranging from 4.1 to 5.9%; impurities from one shop were below the quantification limit. The total amount of melanotan II in vials ranged between 4.32 and 8.84 mg, although each shop claimed that vials contained 10 mg melanotan II”
Not to mention the FDA’s history of aggressively taking down any vendor who is caught attempting to sell Melanotan I online:
“On February 7, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to the owner of Melanocorp Inc., a Melanotan distributor out of Hendersonville, TN for the illegal sale and marketing of Melanotan II, which has not been approved by the FDA or any other regulatory agency.
As of March 19, 2009, Melanocorp was still advertising and selling Melanotan II on its web site, noting that the drug was U.S.-made and was available to ship worldwide, with the United States as its only exception.”
As per the price tag, you’re looking at a cool $16,000 for an eight-week treatment if you manage to get a doctor’s prescription.
So unless you can find a professionally-trained peptide physician who will prescribe it to you off-label at an affordable cost, your chances of acquiring Melanotan I are slim-and-none for the foreseeable future.
And as long as people continue to abuse the peptide, it will remain behind the healthcare industry’s iron-tight gates.
Until we reach a Golden Age where Melanotan I can be reliably supplied by a legitimate vendor for a fair price at >99% purity, you’re better off purchasing Melanotan II from Limitless Life Nootropics.
Use code JAY15 to get 15% off your order!
Additional Reading Resources for Melanotan I
There’s not much more I can say about Melanotan I – you know exactly what it does, how it works, and what you should be using it for.
But for the peptide-obsessed people who want to dig even further and deepen their knowledge of this consciousness-enhancing peptide, here are some recommended resources…
A TOT Doctor’s Roundtable podcast I did back in February 2019 with my experiences in using MT-1 and MT-2.
Several studies vouching for the use of peptides like Melanotan I in neurodegenerative disorders, heart problems, fat loss, and more.
A comprehensive guide to Melanotan I that includes proper storage conditions, peptide reconstitution, safe dosing techniques, and expected results on the basis of your skin tone.
And as always…
Raise Your Vibration To Optimize Your Love Creation!
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