Sleep is the bedrock of good health. Without it, we feel irritable and unproductive. A 2022 Stada study has found that UK adults sleep worse than the rest of Europe, so what’s keeping us awake at night? Stress is among the worst culprits, with 74% of people feeling so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation and YouGov).
So what sleep aid can you take that has natural ingredients and works with your brain to calm and relax you? Leapfrog SNOOZE is a berry-flavoured chewable supplement that contains a little-known but clever peptide called alpha-casozepine. Inspired by the soothed state of a baby after feeding, French scientists performed tryptic hydrolysis on milk so that we could access the calming magic of milk in supplement form. Patented as Lactium®, this natural hydrolysate reduces cortisol levels and binds to GABAA receptors in the nervous system just as well-known drugs such as diazepam and valium do, but with no side effects. We’ve blended it with body-balancing Lactoferrin and dream-enhancing vitamin B6. It puts the brakes on anxiety and stress and leads to a better night’s sleep.
We spoke to Julie Auger, a specialist in applications for SNOOZE’s hero ingredient, Lactium, to find out why this is such a wonder ingredient for anxiety, stress and sleep.
What was the inspiration for creating Lactium?
The work started with the observation of a baby’s behaviour after feeding. The researchers found that babies have specific digestive enzymes, mainly trypsin and later on pepsin, and when they degrade the protein a specific peptide appears called alpha casozepine that has soothing properties. When we grow into adults it’s not possible to experience this peptide when we degrade milk – it would be mainly pepsin and no more trypsin – so this is why we have created Lactium.
How did the scientists crack the casein in milk to access the peptides?
It was Nancy University that found the alpha-casozepine peptide and we worked on the enzymes. Together we created a milk protein hydrolysate using the enzyme trypsin to break down the milk to create Lactium. Inside Lactium we have a lot of peptides, including a significant amount of the soothing alpha-casozepine.
What is the mechanism of action of alpha-casozepine?
In our brain, we have the GABAA receptor. When we have stress stimuli we will secrete a specific neurotransmitter called GABA and the GABA will fix on the GABAA receptor after this we will have an ion exchange and we will feel relaxed. So, this is a natural mechanism. But when we have too much stress, we have some modification of brain chemicals and we can’t feel the effect of GABAA receptor. We know that the GABAA receptor has a benzodiazepine site and thanks to this receptor we can affix some specific molecule – benzodiazepines – and this molecule will increase the potential action of the GABAA receptor. This is why when we take these types of drugs called benzodiazepines (like Valium) we feel relaxed.
How can Lactium have an effect?
When we checked the molecule structure of benzodiazepine and the decapeptide alpha-casozepine of Lactium we found that it is a similar structure. Thanks to this structure, Lactium and its peptide alpha-casozepine can bind to the benzodiazepine site and optimise the action of this receptor. This is why we have the action and we can decrease the feeling of stress. And we confirm this activity thanks to clinical studies which showed that when we blocked the benzodiazepine site with an antagonist molecule that blocks the site, the Lactium was found unable to bind to the receptor and had no more action (and it was the same case with Valium as the positive control). But when we don’t use an antagonist we have an effect of Lactium and we have an effect of Valium. Lactium, however, does not have the side effects like there are with benzodiazepines – we do not have the same affinity with the receptor because it is not a drug it is a protein. Lactium will degrade and disappear from the organism, so this is why we have no side effects, habituation or dizzy feeling.
And can you describe Lactium’s effect on cortisol?
Cortisol is important for us, but it’s not good if it’s too much or for too long. When we don’t manage our stress levels we have a high level of cortisol throughout the day. It’s not good for your body and its responses, and you would be exhausted if you keep up this high level of cortisol.
When we use Lactium we see in different clinical studies that if we measure the cortisol levels of stressed people we see that we decrease this cortisol level. We know therefore that with Lactium we have an action with cortisol levels and we decrease the high levels in the body to reduce the stress. The cortisol hormone is a good marker to check how an ingredient like Lactium has an impact on physiological stress. We can measure the cortisol in the saliva, and stressed people have a particularly high level of cortisol in the morning compared to unstressed people. We also have other markers, such as blood pressure, but cortisol is really interesting to check the efficacy of our ingredient. We performed different clinical studies that show there is a good reduction in both men and women of cortisol.
There have been 9 studies since Lactium was patented and first launched 15 years ago. Can you talk us through some of the highlights?
We have performed 9 clinical studies with almost 500 volunteers who have tested Lactium. We have two types of clinical study: stress design and sleep design. Regarding stress, we follow physiological parameters like cortisol as mentioned previously and blood pressure, and we see with Lactium that we decrease these markers showing we have an action on stress. But in parallel for some studies, we also use questionnaires. So, for example, we have one study on 63 women who tested 150mg of Lactium per day for 30 days and they were given a questionnaire about their stress before and after the Lactium. It looked at digestion (we know when we have stress we can have nausea or craving) but also cardiovascular (if we feel pressure in the chest) or social parameters. So, this is only a perception, but there was an improvement and we see in the results that with Lactium we decrease the bad perception of stress. So, it’s been interesting to combine physiological parameters with perceptive or subjective parameters. Of course, it’s interesting to have an action on cortisol but the most important thing we want is to be sure to have a perception of action.
We have also the same with sleep. We know that stress can cause sleep disorders with less sleep or quality of sleep. So we did a clinical study and to follow the quality of sleep and sleep ratio and we saw that we increased the time of sleep and also the quality of sleep when the subjects consumed Lactium at 300mg – and we followed objective and subjective parameters of sleep as well to determine this action.
We also performed a consumer study last year in 2021 in three different countries – China, France and the USA – and it was on 300 people (100 in each country) we used a questionnaire, so it was a perception parameter. We had very good satisfaction, we almost had 80% satisfaction in all the countries – in the USA it was over 80% and in France and China it was 75% and 80% and we had good results on stress and sleep. And for the USA we had an improvement after 15 days of supplementation.
What is the ideal dosage for Lactium for anxiety, stress and sleep?
If it’s for a specific event like an exam, it’s acute stress (a peak of stress that will naturally decrease after the event) so to prepare for this event we recommend taking a high dosage of Lactium: we can start with 600mg the day before the event and 600mg an hour or two before the event, and this way we feel calm and relaxed to start the event (600mg equates to 4 SNOOZE tablets).
For chronic stress, if you want to manage your stress for a long period, I recommend a minimum of 150mg to 300mg per day per month, taken in the morning (you can also take one in the morning and one in the night if you prefer). We can start with 300mg and decrease it to 150mg, and it will manage your stress. There are no side effects and no toxicity, so no reason not to take it for two months. And for sleep, if we want to have a good perception of the improvement of sleep, I recommend taking 300mg an hour before bed for a month (300mg equates to 2 SNOOZE tablets).
Women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause often say they wake up in the night. Is the Lactium in SNOOZE something you could take in the middle of the night?
Yes, if you haven’t taken it before bed then you could take it in the middle of the night, but if you took it before you bed you don’t need to take it again. With our clinical studies on sleep, we checked how many times people woke up in the night, and with Lactium after one month of supplementation we had a decrease in the number of wakings in the night.
Is there any limit to how long one can take it?
If we want to take it all year round it’s possible – it’s a whey protein hydrolysate and a natural ingredient. All the clinical studies are within one month, but there is no risk or toxicity to taking it for longer. So, it’s totally possible to take it for a long period, but it’s also good to stop and feel your body’s reaction and if you prefer to take Lactium again, you can.
How long would it take to feel the effects?
For the chronic stress studies we checked after 10 days and after this time we could see an improvement in the physiological parameters. We have no data before 10 days, except for the high dosage on acute stress, so the mechanism can be a bit different. For sleep, we saw improvement after 15 days in the consumer study. We used a questionnaire and after 15 days we had an improvement.
Are there any contraindications with Lactium?
There is only one and it’s caffeine, which will decrease the effect of Lactium on the GABAA receptor. So it’s possible to have coffee, but not at the same time as Lactium or it will decrease its efficacy – leaving a long period in between. You could have a morning coffee and later in the morning take Lactium (it’s better to take it for stress in the morning, but it doesn’t have to be at breakfast time). There’s no issue taking Lactium with meals, but I recommend taking it without meals to increase the effectiveness of digestion and absorption of the Lactium. Otherwise, it gets digested with the food; when we take it during a big meal we will secrete more digestive enzymes so we will have a different digestive process. Also, worth mentioning that Lactium is from a milk protein so if you have a milk allergy this is not for you, nor is it vegan. But for lactose – which is an intolerance – those people can consume Lactium because at the dosage of 300mg there is a slight amount of lactose so there should be no problem taking it.
Can Leapfrog IMMUNE and SNOOZE be taken together given there is 250mg of Lactoferrin in IMMUNE and 50mg of Lactoferrin in SNOOZE?
There is no issue with a high dosage of Lactoferrin, so it’s totally possible to combine both products. And the Lactoferrin in SNOOZE will also help to manage your basal immunity.
So, you can take a SNOOZE to maintain immunity, unless you have the beginnings of a cough or a cold, and then it’s IMMUNE that you want with the 250mg of Lactoferrin to knock it on the head!