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Melanotan 1 is a synthetic peptide analogue of alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha MSH), a naturally occurring hormone that induces skin pigmentation. Also referred to as MT-I or afamelanotide, Melanotan-I mimics the actions of alpha-MSH, stimulating greater production and release of melanin in the skin by melanocyte cells. As a result, it has been shown to enhance skin tanning, bringing about a more rapid, deeper, longer-lasting tan in subjects of all skin types. Clinical studies have shown its effects to be significantly enhanced in combination with sun or UV (tanning bed) exposure, although it does exhibit some skin pigmentation results when used in isolation.
Mechanism of Action
Melanotan 1 works by stimulating melanocyte cells to increase their output of melanin, the brown pigment responsible for skin pigmentation. Specifically, MT-1 enhances production of eumelanin, the most common form of melanin. Clinical research has observed this increase in the eumelanin to pheomelanin ratio in the skin to result in substantial tanning effects. Indeed, studies have consistently demonstrated afamelanotide’s ability to increase skin pigmentation as well as synergistically augment the body’s own tanning response to natural sunlight.
Melanotan 1 Vs. Melanotan 2
What is the difference between Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2? First, both peptides exhibit powerful skin darkening effects, substantially increasing both the depth and duration of a tan. However, MT-II also enhances libido (sex drive) and can cause fat loss and appetite suppressant effects. Comparatively, MT-I only enhances skin tanning. Anecdotal reports indicate that MT-I may have slightly reduced side effects when compared to its counterpart as well.
Structurally, Melanotan 1 is a substituted variant of α-MSH that has been altered to reduce enzymatic degradation (increase half-life) and enhance receptor binding (increase potency). The chemical name, [Nle4,D-Phe7]-α-MSH, signifies that the melanotan 1 peptide is comprised of the complete α-MSH amino acid sequence, but with substitutions at the 4 and 7 positions; .
|Synonyms||Afamelanotide; Melanotan 1; MT-1; MT-I|
|Molar Mass||1646.845 Da (g/mol)|
|Amino Acid Sequence||Ac-Ser-Tyr-Ser-Nle-Glu-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys-Pro-Val--NH2|
|Physical Appearance||Sterile filtered white lyophilized (freeze-dried) powder.|
Suggested dosage amounts for Melanotan 1 generally range from 0.5mg to 1.5mg per administration. However, it is a commonly reported good practice to begin with an even lower dose, around 0.25mg.
In historical clinical studies, daily dosages generally ranged from 0.08 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, as with this study, to 0.16 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, as in this study. Although side effects reported in these studies were generally mild, these dosages are widely considered to be very high as of now. For example, with this protocol, a 110 pound person would require 4 milligrams of Melanotan 1 per dose, almost 3 times the modern recommended maximum. These study dosages are now considered to be excessive and are outdated.
Phases of Dosage Protocol
As with Melanotan 2, MT-I dosage protocols can generally fall into 3 different phases. They are acclimation, loading, and maintenance. In the acclimation phase, individuals will administer a quite low dose (usually less than 0.5mg) in order to see how they react to the peptide. If no side effects are seen, then the dose can be gradually increased. During the loading phase, the individual will usually follow a once daily administration protocol. The purpose of this phase is to attain the desired skin pigmentation results. The final phase, maintenance, is where the individual will seek to maintain the achieved effects from the previous phase with lower and/or less frequent dosages.
Example Melanotan 1 Cycle
This is a common example cycle followed with Melanotan 1. It utilizes a short acclimation period followed by a standard loading protocol. It is then concluded by common maintenance practices. This cycle is provided for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation or medical advice. Any and all aspects of melanotan use should be determined only by a licensed healthcare professional.
• Day 1-3: 0.25mg
• Day 4-7: 0.5mg
Week 2 – 4
• 0.75mg once daily
Week 5 – 7
• 1mg once daily
Week 8 – 12
• Monday: 0.75mg
• Thursday: 0.75mg
In this cycle, week 1 is used as a trial run, essentially. By starting with a conservative initial dose of 0.25mg over 3 days and then increasing to 0.5mg for the following 4 days, it is possible to safely assess individual tolerance to the peptide and avoid the occurrence of any negative side effects. As the peptide was well tolerated in this case, acclimation can be viewed as successfully completed, and it is possible to move on to the next phase of the cycle.
In weeks 2-4, a common Melanotan 1 dose of 0.75 milligrams is taken once per day. This is where the effects of the peptide start to become apparent. In this instance, results were quite good and tolerance to the dose was satisfactory. Subsequently, starting in week 5, dosage was increased to 1 milligram taken once daily in order to attain even greater skin tanning effects. By the end of week 7, a subjectively satisfactory result was achieved.
Starting in week 8, dosage is reduced to 0.75 milligrams taken twice weekly in order to maintain the progress of the previous weeks. In this case, the protocol is continued until week 12, then ceased. However, this maintenance phase could theoretically be continued as long as individually desired to keep results, so long as no negative side effects or issues appear.
When to Take Melanotan 1
As with all melanotan peptides, experts highly recommended starting with a low initial dose, especially for individuals new to melanocortinergic peptides. It is further advised that increases in dosage should be made slowly and only as needed to attain desired results. This is to assess individual susceptibility to any side effects that may occur and avoid them. Critically, individual dosages should ultimately be determined by one’s physician or healthcare provider.
Reports indicate that the most common time to take Melanotan 1 is after the last meal of the day prior to bed. While MT-I is commonly considered to have the least problematic intensity and occurrence of side effects of all the melanotan peptides, individuals often report taking the peptide before retiring for the night so that any feelings of dizziness or lethargy are minimized. Still, this is up to individual preference and may be taken at any time of day.
Melanotan 1 is generally taken in a similar frequency as Melanotan 2; that is, once per day until the desired results are attained. Then, individuals often choose to maintain their results with somewhat less frequent administration, typically once or twice weekly dosages, as outlined in the cycle above.
▪ Enhanced skin tanning ability
▪ More rapid onset of tan
▪ Longer lasting tan
Through activating specific melanocortin receptors in the body by mimicking the actions of alpha-MSH, Melanotan 1 stimulates melanocyte cells to increase their production and output of melanin in the skin. As melanin is the pigment which determines skin color, this can result in a deeper, darker skin tone, especially when combined with sun or UV (tanning bed) exposure. As a result, this can lead to an enhanced ability of the skin to tan, especially in very fair or pale skinned individuals.
Further, this increased output of melanin also decreases the time needed to achieve a satisfactory skin tan in many subjects in clinical studies. Subjects have consistently reported a shorter time to see initial skin tan onset as well as quicker darkening and “bronzing” of the skin in the presence of sunlight. Additionally, studies have shown that once attained, suntans achieved with Melanotan 1 also last longer and do not diminish as quickly as those attained without it. Likewise, MT-I is often used in less frequent doses by individuals who have achieved a subjectively satisfactory tanning result to maintain their skin color as long as desired.
Melanotan 1 is generally regarded as the melanotan peptide with the least prevalent side effects. Reports indicate that, at suggested dosage levels, side effects typically do not occur at all or are very mild. Of course, the incidence of side effects always becomes more likely with increases in dosage, especially in doses exceeding recommended limits. Nonetheless, MT-I is generally regarded as the most mild melanocortinergic peptide and, at recommended dosages, is reportedly very well tolerated.
As with Melanotan 2 and PT-141, Melanotan 1’s most common side effects are transient flushing, lightheadedness, and nausea following administration. Generally, these side effects clear up very quickly, often in minutes or seconds. At extremely high (not recommended) levels, more severe side effects do have the potential to occur. These may include gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and flatulence. Again, however, these effects are reportedly rare and are very unlikely to occur at all but extreme dosages.
Importantly, Melanotan 1 does not have any effect on sexual functioning or appetite as does Melanotan 2. This is due to the affinity of MT-I to bind only to the melanocortin 1 receptor, or MC1R. Conversely, Melanotan 2 binds to MC1R as well as to additional melanocortin receptors (MC3R and MC4R particularly), which drives that peptide’s effects on libido, sexual response, and appetite suppression. Consequently, Melanotan 1 has the skin tanning results of MT-II, but without the aforementioned additional effects.