The discovery of Lactium®
The story starts back in the late 1990’s when researchers investigating the connections between calmness and milk drinking in newborns raised the possibility that something in milk was affecting the brain. The investigators knew that a newborns digestive system was quite different to that of an adults and favours protein digestion (so called tryptic digestion). They also knew that the key protein in milk was a large and complex one known as casein. The next step was to explore the possibility that the newborns digestive system was splitting the casein molecule in a special way so that it produced a string of proteins (peptides) that actually induces a state of calmness and relaxation once absorbed and integrated within the nervous system.
By 2001 researchers finally identified what has become known as Lactium®, a specific string of 10 peptides isolated from casein that had the anti-anxiety (benzodiazepine-like) properties predicted by the earlier newborn studies. Further studies helped to confirm the mechanisms that lay behind the ability of Lactium® to induce a general feeling of wellbeing and calmness.
How Lactium® works
Lactium® has been shown to have a benzodiazepine-like action within the brain. This has been shown to relate to the ability of the specific arrangement of the 10 peptides that form Lactium® and their interaction with a key anxiety associated brain receptor known as the GABAA-receptor. It is this receptor that the benzodiazepine drug class (eg. Valium) binds with in order to stimulate a calm state of mind. Unfortunately, we are all too aware of the complications associated with benzodiazepine medications so when it was shown that Lactium® had a high affinity for this receptor but only to one part of it, the part that eases anxiety and not the part that causes sedation, its real power, safety and broad application as a food supplement became apparent. From a biological perspective, the focus of Lactium® action concentrates within the region of the brain known as the hippocampus; an anatomical area with a high concentration of GABAA-receptors. It’s no coincidence that stress, memory and many other key psychological processes are regulated by this brain structure which has even been implicated to be dysfunctional in a wide range of problems ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia through to Alzheimer’s disease. What appears to be evident is re-balancing the activity of the hippocampus offers benefits to chronic stress and anxiety sufferers that may extend to improved memory and sleep patterns.