Ipso Factoid: Milking it?

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The Daily Mail has reported on the stress busting properties of milk.  It seems a protein in milk known as Lactium could be the answer.  The protein they are actually talking about is called casein (also mentioned in the article as a stress relieving protein), whereas Lactium is the compound that has been created from casein by French company Ingredia, who are promoting it as a way to “manage chronic daily stress as well as occasional stress”, apparently with no toxic side effects.  This sounds pretty good.

Apparently there is scientific evidence in animals and in humans demonstrating the effects of Lactium in stress.  According to the article Lactium has only been tested on 190 volunteers but one theory of how it works is that it “acts on receptors in the brain that help control anxiety and stress”. It is not mentioned which receptors or why this might be the case.  A search of pubmed quickly reveals, well, very little.  There are no articles about Lactium or casein in relation to use in combating stress in humans.  From searching through Google it looks like the 190 volunteers who have been tested came from 5 studies that are not easy to get hold of.  One such paper by Dr Marta Santuré tested Lactium against placebo.  It is not clear which journal this study is published in, or if it is published at all.  It measured the effects of stress in 63 women who were suffering from at least 1 symptom of stress, measured by an unnamed questionnaire that is not described.  Somewhat unsurprisingly it has favourable results showing that in 5 out of 8 areas of stress (remember that the participants had to have at least 1 symptom, and since no further participant information is given, it is unclear how many participants fell into each group) Lactium was significantly better than placebo.  The researcher even suggests that the insignificant results such as in locomotive symptoms could have been significant if they hadn’t been masked by the troublesome placebo effect.  Interestingly, despite giving a ringing endorsement for Lactium, showing positive results at a dosage of 150mg/day the LactiumUSA website where this research is linked from claims that Lactium has been proven effective in humans at 167mg/day.

So how did this little known effect of Lactium find its way to the Daily Mail?  It may just be coincidence, but at the bottom of the article is the answer to the question of where to find this remarkable product in the UK: Boots.  They are selling “Equilibrium” containing Lactium at a price of £9.99 for a 14 day supply.  The boots website has this to say about it “This product contains Lactium a unique ingredient which is proven to help with the stresses of every day life, helping you through a stressful day” and “This one a day supplement contains the patented ingredient Lactium.  All Boots vitamins and suppliers are checked to ensure they meet our high quality and safety standards”.  Presumably Boots had more luck tracking down the other 4 studies showing safety and efficacy data.

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