Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Lactium Supplementation

By Victoria Coleman   

Features Nutrition Wellness

Stress is a key contributor to disease and illness.

Stress is a key contributor to disease and illness. This is no longer just a matter of opinion, but has been supported by science. The management of stress is essential to optimal health. Well-respected naturopathic doctor Penny Kendall-Reed has worked effectively with her patients, managing their stress levels and dampening the negative effects on the body’s biochemistry. Lifestyle and nutritional support are important strategies to assist your patients in minimizing the negative effects of stress while optimizing health. The following article on this topic comes to us from Dr. Kendall-Reed and ends by outlining a potential role for supplementation with Lactium.

The human reaction to stress is designed as a survival mechanism for the body. It is a complex cascade of hormonal interactions that exert a profound effect on many physiological systems to help protect us from internal (illness) or external (sabre-toothed tiger) danger. 


Unfortunately, in today’s world, rather than a single fight-or-flight episode, such as running from a dangerous animal, our body is faced with a multitude of smaller but more chronic stressors such as unstable blood sugar levels, less than eight hours of sleep, bad traffic or excessive workload.  We also suffer from perceived stress, our mental interpretation of an event, such as a wedding, which causes identical stimulation to our nervous system without ever truly being “dangerous.”

Despite man’s many advances, our neurochemical and hormonal reactions to stress (the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal, or HPA, axis) have not changed greatly since our caveman days. Designed for acute stressors that resolve rapidly, our present-day, chronic, low-grade stress results in the continual release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) from the hypothalamus, that area in the lowest region of the forebrain primarily concerned with survival.  This chronic secretion causes dysfunction in the HPA axis, desensitizing the hypothalamic and pituitary receptors to negative feedback from adrenaline, noradrenaline and, particularly, cortisol.

In this state, the hypothalamus also loses its ability to coordinate incoming information from the areas that control emotional behaviour, motivation and control of the internal and external environment – the limbic system, reticular areas, thalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. This loss of control creates exaggerated neurochemical, emotional and physical responses within the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) exacerbating HPA dysregulation.

Loss of negative feedback within the neuro-hormonal system creates a multitude of ailments and diseases. It increases the production of antidiruetic hormone (ADH), aldosterone and angiotensin, increasing vascular vasoconstriction and sodium retention. It increases C-reactive protein and endothelin, promoting atherosclerosis and inflammation. It directly increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) production as well as glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid release, further increasing cardiac risk.

Cortisol inhibits gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and increases gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH, an inhibitory hormone that directly reduces GnRH release in the dorsal medial hypothalamus). Both effects reduce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol and testosterone production, thereby impairing fertility. In addition it elevates prolactin in the non-pregnant female, inflames the uterus and causes fallopian tube spasm that can crush the egg en route to implantation.

Stress has a direct impact on inflammatory bowel diseases. It increases the release of neurotensin, the gastrointestinal neuropeptide that alters NF-B-dependent interleukin-8 (IL-8) expression in colonocytes, causing inflammation and disrupting healing in the bowel. It also stimulates histamine release from the mast cells and immunoglobin G (IgG) production to non-specific foods causing bloating, inflammation and mucous production.

Stress reduces tumour necrosis factors (TNF) and natural killer (NK) cells, turns on viral-induced cancers such as sarcomas and lymphomas and directly alters DNA repair and cellular growth to increase cancer and metastasis risk. In fact, by blocking stress hormones, metastasis can be reduced by up to 300 per cent.

Stress contributes to one of the most dangerous and growing conditions in North America, namely, obesity. In a society where 65 per cent of people are overweight and 31 per cent are clinically obese, chronic stimulation of the HPA axis can be viewed as one of the most dangerous risk factors for our health. Cortisol inhibits the release of leptin, the hormone that reduces our appetite after a meal, and “jump-starts” our metabolism. It also increases the release of insulin in response to carbohydrate load, promoting fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region where white fat cells have three times the number of cortisol receptors on their surface. To make matters worse CRH and cortisol block the production and binding of both serotonin and dopamine. This combination of imbalanced hormones destabilizes mood and stimulates food cravings.

Stress affects so many aspects of our health, from migraines to allergies, and insomnia to athletic performance, that it is becoming crucial to rebalance our HPA axis. Simply “mopping up” excess cortisol is not sufficient as it fails to address the many other areas of dysregulation within the pathway from hypothalamus to end-organ receptor.

Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed is a naturopathic doctor and specialist in metabolic disorders. She is the author of “The New Naturopathic Diet” and co-author of “The No Crave Diet,” and travels throughout Canada and the U.S. lecturing on weight loss and weight-related diseases. Dr. Kendall-Reed is the director of natural therapies at the Urban Wellness Clinic in Toronto.


To date there is only one natural supplement that is effective at all levels of the HPA axis to not only decrease glucocorticoid secretion but also to rebalance the pathway. This supplement, Lactium, is a bioactive decapeptide, alpha-1 sequence, isolated from milk. It works at three areas of the HPA axis:

Lactium is the only casein peptide to bind specifically to the benzodiazepine (BZD) binding site of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA-A) receptor. Unlike benzodiazepines, the alpha-1 peptide does not bind to the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) site of the GABA-A receptor, the site responsible for the sedating side effects of benzodiazepines. It has been clinically shown in vivo that the alpha-1 casein peptide is about 10 times more active than diazepam at the BZD site without causing drowsiness.

Lactium increases the sensitivity of the hypothalamus to cortisol, re-establishing receptor sensitivity normal feedback within the HPA axis. It also reduces the amount of CRH produced in response to stress.

Lactium decreases the amount of cortisol released by the adrenal glands during acute and chronic stress.

When negative feedback within the HPA axis is disrupted, chronic hormonal secretion becomes “normal” for that individual. In this state, they either fail to recognize that they are stressed, or they experience an exaggerated emotional and physical response to every stressor, such as intolerance to noise or light, or a feeling of being overwhelmed when asked to perform a simple task. This often leaves them feeling helpless or defeated, one of the most unhealthy and powerless places to be. Although the external and internal stress load is certainly not decreasing in our society, we can regain control over our response to it, protecting ourselves from stress-induced illness. 

Within my practice I use Lactium in concert with nutrition, other natural supplements and lifestyle modification to provide a comprehensive approach to stress management.

Dr. Victoria Coleman is a 1994 graduate of CMCC and a BSc in Kinesiology specializing in Fitness Assessment and Exercise Counseling. Working with patients over the years, it became her mission to teach people that everything you eat, breath, drink, and think affects your health. This fuelled her desire to further expand her career and continue her studies. She is an avid follower of the Institute for Functional Medicine and is currently working toward her certification in Functional Medicine. Dr. Coleman is also the president of Douglas Laboratories/Pure Encapsulations Canada.

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