Melanotan II – Healthy or Harmful?

Melanotan II – Healthy or Harmful?

Wednesday, 02 January 2013 20:54

On Jan 2 2013, I received the following email from one of my newsletter subscribers, Christina wrote:

Hi Mark.

Just wondering…. What’s your opinion on Melanotan 2??

My reply appears below but firstly here is a little bit of information of what Melanotan II is (from Wikipedia):

Melanotan II developed at the University of Arizona is a synthetic analog of a naturally occurring melanin related peptide peptide that in usage has been shown to have melanogenesis (tanning) effects.

As of 2010 no compound incorporating the melanotan II peptide has ever been approved for use by any governmental drug regulatory bodies outside of clinical trials. Unlicensed and untested powders sold as “melanotan II” are found on the Internet and are reported to be used by thousands of members of the general public. Multiple regulatory bodies have warned consumers the peptides may be unsafe and ineffective in usage with one regulatory agency warning that consumers who purchase any product labeled “melanotan” risk buying a counterfeit drug.Medical researchers.


Melanotan II was first synthesized at the University of Arizona. Researchers there knew that one of the best defenses against skin cancer was melanin activated in the skin, a tan. They hypothesized that an effective way to reduce skin cancer rates in people would be to induce the body’s natural pigmentary system to produce a protective tan prior to UV exposure. The body’s naturally occurring hormone α-MSH causes melanogenesis, a process by which the skin’s pigment cells (melanocytes) produce the skin’s pigment (melanin). They tested to see if administering this endogenous hormone to the body directly could be an effective method to cause sunless tanning. What they found was that while it appeared to work, natural α-MSH had too short a half life in the body to be practical as a therapeutic drug. So they decided to find a more potent and stable alternative, one that would be more practical.

Mark’s reply:

Hi Christina

I haven’t heard a lot about it, but obviously the fact it is a synthetic compound, I’m somewhat sceptical to begin with. Not that it doesn’t do what it’s meant to do (i.e. create a sun tan without UV exposure), but that it in some way misses the point. Tanning obviously reduces the skin’s propensity to get sun burnt (skin damaged) on subsequent UV exposures (which is okay/good), but the more important factor in terms on skin cancer and other disease prevention, is synthesising and optimising Vitamin D. Melanotan 2 might tan skin, but as I understand it, does not synthesise Vitamin D, and the more than one’s skin is, the more sunlight or UV exposure one needs to synthesise Vitamin D.

While I am not completely against all ‘non-natural’ things, the first question I always ask myself with anything like this, is “is it natural?”, “is this the way mother nature designed us to enjoy optimum health?”. In this case, I don’t believe using such a synthetic compound would be a yes. Without a tan, we need less UV exposure to synthesise Vitamin D and just have to be more careful to build things up very gradually over time. That’s my view anyway. And what we don’t hear about with all these things, are what are the (potential) side effects from using the synthetic compound. Having said all that, Melanotan 2 is not something I have researched extensively and certainly would not consider myself an expert on it. But hope it helps anyway.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers.  Mark is also CEO of David Lynch Foundation Australia.