Sleeptime Milk and BCM7

In recent days some media have been reporting on a new product called ‘sleeptime milk’. So far it is only being marketed in Taiwan where, according to New Zealand marketer New Image Group, they have been “stunned” by consumer interest.

New Image Group is a publicly listed New Zealand company that markets health and wellness products internationally, particularly in Asia. New Image Group direct-sells products to consumers via agents, and does not use retail stores. Its major product to date has been cows’ milk colostrum.

According to New Image Group, they are thinking of expanding into Malaysia, and further down the track there is a prospect it will be marketed in New Zealand. They have already won an award from the Cawthron Institute for export innovation. So what is this ‘sleeptime milk’, sometimes also more simply called ‘sleep milk’?

The press release from New Image Group says that it comes from a particular type of cow. It is sold as a powder to which water is added. The key message is that it helps induce sleep in adults that are suffering from insomnia. The press release is available from various sources including the New Image Asia website (http://www.newimageasia.com/en/about-new-image/news/122-taiwanese-launch-of-sleeptime)

New Image Group says that it “has been shown in clinical trials to provide a statistically significant improvement in quality of sleep and most notably an increasing time spent in the important rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase”. They say that the proprietary manufacturing process includes additives to stabilise the milk, thereby “extending the life of certain milk fractions in the body’s circulation”.

The press release is not specific as to what is actually different about these cows. However, it does say that the lactose and most of the fat is removed during processing. It also states that the intellectual property for this project was developed by another company, Somnaceutics, with whom they are partnering.

Searching on the web for the relevant patents held by Somnaceutics provides the technical details submitted for patent registration. They are registered widely across the world, including Europe and the United States. The American site is http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20100130406.

It is laid out in the patent that the special cows are what are known as A1 cows, i.e. they have double copies of the A1 variant of the beta-casein gene. Hence all of their beta-casein is A1 beta-casein. Ascorbic acid is added to the milk (with lactose and fat removed) and the product is heat treated. The ascorbic acid and the heat treatment are to minimise the breakdown of BCM7 (beta-casomorphin-7) which is released from A1 beta-casein.

The patent is very clear that this is about maximizing the effect of BCM7.

Readers of my book ‘Devil in the Milk’ will know that BCM7 is the devil that I write about. Readers will also know that BCM7 is an opioid, hence the name ‘casomorphin’, whose effects include reduced respiration rates in young animals. In my book, drawing on more than 100 scientific papers, I lay out the evidence linking BCM7 to Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, symptoms of autism, and various other auto immune conditions.

According to the New Image Group they have both clinical and consumer evidence that their product works. I have not been able to find the published data of the clinical trials, but it would not be at all surprising if it did indeed work. This is particularly so for people who are stressed, or who for other reasons might have a ‘leaky gut’ that allows peptides to pass through to the blood and from there to the brain.

According to the press release, consumers particularly like the product because of its natural base. There is no mention in the press release that the key component is an opioid, and that it has been linked in the scientific literature to various health conditions. However, the American version of the patent (and perhaps other versions) does say: “this invention should be used with care by the elderly or by diabetics or by persons undergoing dialysis. Preferably the soporific product is sold with a recommended dose statement and with a warning against carrying out risky actions such as driving or operating machinery for a time after consuming the product”. It is not clear from the press release whether this message is carried on the packaging.

I have been aware of this patent for many months, but until now had not followed up the details. This was because, although there is no health-related legal constraint, I did not see how anyone could make a marketable food product based on BCM7. In contrast, I have long been an enthusiast for A2 milk, which does not contain the A1 beta-casein which releases BCM7. In fact the absence of A1 beta-casein is what makes A2 milk distinctive. Originally all milk was A2 until a mutation occurred that has affected many European cows.

I now find it very interesting that a company is marketing a product that maximizes A1 beta-casein, and then goes further by treating it so as to increase the bio-active effect of BCM7. According to the press release, “production in New Zealand is now being ramped up and Somnaceutics is adding more cows to the special dairy herds that produce milk containing a high level of sleep enhancing peptides”.

I am going to watch with great interest how the ‘sleeptime milk’ journey develops. In particular, if the opioid BCM7 is really getting through into the brain and putting people to sleep, what else might it be doing for long term auto-immune conditions?

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About Keith Woodford

Keith Woodford is an independent consultant, based in New Zealand, who works internationally on agri-food systems and rural development projects. He holds honorary positions as Professor of Agri-Food Systems at Lincoln University, New Zealand, and as Senior Research Fellow at the Contemporary China Research Centre at Victoria University, Wellington.
This entry was posted in A1 and A2 milk, Agribusiness. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Sleeptime Milk and BCM7

  1. Pingback: NZ company markets “Sleep Time” A1A1 milk with BCM7 opiode effect « The Bovine

  2. Edward Miller says:

    You shoulod look at the new cover story article in Life Extnsion Magazine, titled “Widely Used in Europe… Natural Sedative Restores Youthful Sleep”
    (see http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&page_id=271&query=milk&hiword=MILKBASED%20MILKS%20MILKY%20milk%20).

    they are offering a new product titled “Enhanced Natural Sleep with Dual-Action Melatonin”

    It would be interesting to hear your coments on their article and new product. I suspect it is BCM7, possibly from the same firm that sells the product you are commenting on. If it is, there are important facts that should be disclosed by them, but are not being disclosed.

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Edward
      Yes, this needs further investigation.
      Any milk peptide that causes sleep is likely to be an opioid.
      BCM-7 is not the only opioid in milk but it would seem to be by far the strongest.
      I note that one of the references refers to alpha casein but this does not digest to give BCM7. But what is actually in the product they are promoting I have no idea, as all they say is ‘milk peptides’. I believe it is also possible to increase the melatonin content of milk by milking cows in the night and in darkness. Melatonin is a natural hormone (not a peptide) that we all produce in the absence of light and which helps maintain sleep rythms related to day/night cycles. But on the surface this product does look a bit dodgy. Please let me know if you find out any more.
      KeithW

      • I found a description of what may be the product being sold by Life Extension, whose brand name for one ingredient is apparently is Lactium. In the following article (http://www.lactiumusa.com/pdf/restudy/effects-of-bovine-alpha.pdf), I read that the tested product was
        “alpha-s1 casein hydrolsate (CTH) (Lactium) supplied by INGREDIA, Arras, France”

        I am not very knowledgeable about casein’s in milk, but this appears not to be the same thing as BCM-7. Am I right.

        One concern I would have is whether there were appreciable quantities of BCM-7 in the product. I could imagine hydrolysis producing several substances that could be hard to separate.

        An ideal experimental design would start with A-2 milk so that one would know that there was no BCM-7 in the product, but this apparently was not done.

        [Response from Keith Woodford: If it was fully hydrolysed then it would comprise sinlge amino acids and there would be no effects beyond the simple nutritive effects of the amino acids. BCM7 can only be released from partial hydrolysis and not full hydrolysis of beta-casein. In theory it can be released from both A1 and A2 beta-casein given a very specific choice of enzymes and pH conditions. In the human gut it is only likely to be released from A1 beta casein (and sub variants of A1 such as B beta-casein). The evidence for this is summarised in a 2008 paper by Ivano de Noni in the journal Food Chemistry.]

  3. Adeha Feustel says:

    Hello Keith,
    First let me say I just read Devil in the Milk, and I’ve added your name to my unofficial heroes list! Thank you for what you’re doing!

    I just called Life Extension (I’m a member) and asked them what is the milk peptide in their new sleep product. I wasn’t the first to call regarding this. They don’t know the answer yet, but they already knew your name and the name of the book! They will get back to me when they find the answer, and I’ll let you know what they say.

    All the best,
    Adeha

  4. I too call Life Extension (of which I also am a member).
    I was promised a call back, but after a week I have not received it.

  5. Edward Miller says:

    Today (May 9) I finally got the promised call from Life extension.

    The representative stated that Lactium was indeed made from alpha-s1 casein and hence should not have BCM-7 in it. I was told this came from the manufacturer, but could not determine if tests for BCM-7 had actually been conducted.

    Hence, I still have some concern that BCM-7 may be present if the separation of the alpha from the beta casein is incomplete, but since I do not know how such separation is done, I cannot guess how complete it might be. Does this seem like a valid worry?

    I did find via a web search that ” Strange et al. (1992) [1493] review the purification of proteins from milk.
    Caseins can be prepared from milk by precipitation at pH 4.6 with acetic acid, centrifuged (2250 x g for 5 minutes) and washed twice with 0.1 M ammonium acetate, pH 4.6 (Rasmussen & Petersen, 1991 [1416]). Individual caseins can then be separated by gel chromatography on a Sepharose CL-6B column or denatured and separated in urea (Rasmussen et al. 1994 [1418]).” The above is from: http://foodallergens.ifr.ac.uk/biochemical.lasso?selected_food=5000&allergenID=1041

    I would feel better if Life Extension had done their own analysis for BCM-7. Do you know whether measuring the BCM-7 (in Lactium) is the sort of standard laboratory tests that Life Extension could easily have done, or how much it would cost?

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Edward
      Testing for BCM7 is not routine, but neither is it particularly difficult for a laboratory to do this.
      I am still puzzled as to what Life Extension think the active ingredient is in their product.
      KeithW

  6. Edward Miller says:

    Their long article on the product in their magazine (readable on the web) merely refers to it as a milk peptide.

    Their long article on the product in their magazine (readable on the web) merely refers to it as a milk peptide.

    I suspect they are relying on the claims (and published research they cite) of makers of Lactium that it works. I am not an expert on milk protein chemistry, but I believe there could be a opiod derived from the alpha casein (while open to the possibility that it is BCM-7, even if the main raw material is a alpha casein).

    Makers of ingredients for supplements and supplement manufacturers have an incentive to be vague about exactly what they are selling, especially if it may be harmful.

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Edward
      I would need to check the structure of alpa-casein. It is possible that there are weak opioids that can be released from it, but there is nothing comparable to BCM7. (If there were, it would have come to my attention via the literature a long time ago). Yes, this product information does sound very vague. Personally, I would want a lot more information before I would buy the product.
      KeithW
      KeithW

  7. Garry Woods says:

    NZ-made ‘Sleep Time’ milk a hit in Taiwan 28 May 2010, I was there in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for New Image International launch of Sleeptime 15th May 2011.
    New Zealand will launch Sleeptime in Auckland New Zealand on July 9th 2011. I can send you anyone an invitation if they want to be one of the first to receive a free sample. Or you can contact me thru http://www.newimage.net.nz
    Regards in health, Garry

  8. Edward Miller says:

    The Robert Bartlett Elliot patent application (http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20100130406#ixzz1PeA1iSAi) raises very important questions This patent application mentions research that suggests that the BCM7 half life in the blood is prolonged by glycation. Glycation is a reaction of a protein, such as beta casein, with a sugar. Of course, milk contains lactose, which is a sugar.

    This patent application seems to reports that warming milk somehow produces glycated BCM7, or peptides that breakdown into a glycated version of BCM7. If this happens and said version of BCM7 stays in the body longer, it would suggest a negative effect of pasteurization on health though the production of glycated BCM7. This could argue that pasteurization induces certain disease through its effects in producing glycated BCM7, even if as it kills bacteria. It is quite possible that differences in the nature of the heat treatment affects the amount of glycation, which could have health effects.

    After writing the above I discovered Devil in the Milk discussed glycation on p123. It states high temperature pasteurization leads to more glycation, as do some other processes.

    It may be possible to do epidemiological studies to see if they are consistent with this implication of the patent and Woodford’s insight. The use of ultra pasteurization is relatively recent, and I believe there is a high degree of geographic variation in where it is used. If the effect is major there should be a rise in diabetes rates that is greater after this pasteurization process comes into use, and this rise should not be observed in other countries (thus providing at least a partial control for other factors that may be changing at the same).

    The table below shows wide variation in UHT in European countries (from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article2658175.ece).
    UHT milk as a percentage of total consumption:

    Austria 20.3
    Belgium 96.7
    Czech Rep 71.4
    Denmark 0.0
    Finland 2.4
    France 95.5
    Germany 66.1
    Greece 0.9
    Hungary 35.1
    Ireland 10.9
    Italy 49.8
    Netherlands 20.2
    Norway 5.3
    Poland 48.6
    Portugal 92.9
    Slovakia 35.5
    Spain 95.7
    Sweden 5.5
    Switzerland 62.8
    Britain 8.4

    There are large variations within Europe with some cases of adjacent countries have large variations such as Britain versus France, or Denmark versus Germany.

    There is an important policy issue here because the article cited above is about a serious proposal in the UK to shift the whole country to UHT milk in order to save on refrigeration and hence reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It would be very unfortunate if such a change increased disease rates and killed large numbers of people.

    Reportedly galactose (half of lactose) produces glycation far more readily than glucose. “It appears that fructose and galactose have approximately ten times the glycation activity of glucose,” (Widipedia, citing McPherson JD, Shilton BH, Walton DJ (March 1988). “Role of fructose in glycation and cross-linking of proteins”. Biochemistry 27 (6): 1901–7. The abstract does not mention galactose, and this study is at lower temperatures, aimed at studying what might happen inside the human body.

    As you probably know, there is a large literature arguing that pasteurization contributes to chronic disease. Looking in one such book, Shaw’s “The Untold Story of Milk” there is no index entry for glycation, suggesting this topic has not been widely discussed. What do you know about this?

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Edward
      Lots to think about here and no easy answers.
      My guess is that all infant formula goes through a process equivalent to ultra heat pasteurisation, regardless of country. Infant formula makers are very careful as to where they get their milk powder from, and my understanding is that major suppliers label some of their product specifically for that use.
      KeithW

  9. Garry Woods says:

    Sleep Time is to be launched in Sydney 12-14 August at their Royalty Celebrations http://www.newimageasia.com/en/about-new-image/news/219-australian-royalty-1-3-april-2011
    email me at sleeptime@paradise.net.nz for an invitation to the Friday nght extravaganza. or for a free information complimentary satchet.
    To buy your own at http://www.sella.co.nz/general/health-beauty/relaxation-hypnosis/8c5pzv/

  10. Donna Hudson says:

    Hello Keith,
    Your book explained a lot to me: why I got along fine when we had milk goats, why after selling the goats 20+ years ago I had turned into a blank minded zombie till I figured out it was the store milk doing it. I find I can indeed drink goat milk fine, and for awhile I had access to milk from a Guernsey cow, but not anymore. Our friends got a Jersey cow, so I decided to drink a little of her milk to see what happened. I drank half a cup and waited. In about 5 minutes I felt really weird, and took some aspirin to stop the headache which would be the next step down the A1 road for me. All night long I had flashing lights, which for me tell me I’ve been exposed either to pesticides or A1 milk. (Don’t know what they have in common, except that my liver doesn’t do a good job breaking down petrochemicals and pesticides.) No headache, thanks to the aspirin, but it felt like people were opening and slamming doors in my head all night long. It reminded me of the line in the book about people saying that quitting gluten caused a sort of “fog” to lift from their brains, which it sure did for me, 3X before I figured out the problem was gluten as well as milk. It says that gluten only affects 4 areas of the brain, but BCM7 can affect, I think it was 43 different areas of the brain. These days I ask a lot of people if they drink milk, and it’s amazing how many don’t and what their reasons are. A LOT of people don’t do well on milk these days. Considering the way celiac disease is going up, I think A1 reactions are going up too, though a lot of the people I talk to never liked milk. They will cook with it though, thinking it’s “good” for them. I tell them if they don’t like it, it’s because it’s not good forTHEM.

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Thanks Donna for sharing this. One of the key points relates to the Jersey milk. Far too many people have been assuming that just because the A1 beta casein allele is somewhat less common in Jersey cattle than in Holstein-Friesian, that it can be assumed that the milk is A2. This is in fact far from true. it varies by country, but in genreal only about half the jersey cows will be A2A2 (carrying a double copy of the A2 version of the gene)and the other half will be producing at least some A1 beta=casein in their milk. Evem with Guernsey cows it cannot be guaranteed that the animnal will be A2A2, but in the case of Guernseys it seems that well over 90% are double A2.
      KeithW

    • jmills says:

      Wow. There is obviously a genetic component here. I only drink raw milk from an organic Amish farm. It’s all A1. Zero symptoms. In fact quite the opposite. Since I started drinking it over 5 years ago my IBS is a faded memory. My immune system has never been better. It amazes me that with so much genetic diversity along with the science of epigenetics (whether a gene is turned on or off) someone could broadly demonize a particular variety of food as bad for everyone 100% of the time. It would too expensive and impractical to apply any form of scientific methodology to such a large number of variables involved. Which is why we are left with nothing more than speculation and zero hard facts. There will likely never be for the obvious reasons stated above.

      • Keith Woodford says:

        Without genetic testing, it is impossible to say whether or not the raw milk from an organic Amish farm is all A1. However, I am aware that many Amish herds have been converting to A2. They were some of the first in the USA to do so. Yes, genetic diversity and epigenetics are both relevant. However, I think you may have misunderstood the way that the scientific methodology works.
        KeithW

  11. Edward Miller says:

    Why have Amish herds been converting? I had the impression very few in the US were aware of the issue, and even put some work into making it better known.

    I drew the attention of a very small Amish dairy to your book. They sold goat milk, but were also in a good position to launch an A2/A2 line since the milk was delivered in small milk containers to the plant, not bulk, and I could imagine supplies being segregated for bottling.

    Unfortunately, the absence of easy testing and A2 patents (which are very weak) would make it hard for an individual farmer to offer such milk, although I suspect A2 Corp would not be aware of what they were doing, or choose to intervene. In the raw milk market, just saying the milk was from an A2/A2 cow would work if you knew the type of the cow (which might be deduced from ancestry).

    The major risk for A2 Corp from this being done in the raw milk market bought directly from the farmer is that someone might get sick, and people think it was from the A2/A2 status of the cows, rather than from bacteria in the milk. (I am presuming that the did not violate A2 trademarks by selling the product as A2 milk, rather than just stating the nature of the milk).

  12. jovita says:

    Hi Keith,
    Someone commented to me that BCM7 was not present in pasteurised milk. Is this true?

    • Keith Woodford says:

      Jovita
      This is misleading rather than untrue.
      There are only very small quantities of BCM7 in either raw or pasteurised milk.
      However, in normal milk in western countries (from European-type cows) there is a considerable amount of A1 beta-casein. When this A1 beta-casein is digested in the human digestive system there is a release of BCM7 and this will occur with both raw and pasteurised milk. It has been surmised that the release might be greater with UHT pasteurised milk than other methods of pasteurisation, but there is no current evidence to support this.
      Keith W

  13. Keerthi Kumara says:

    I would like to inform to you , sir , finally our dairy breeding expert agreed to use only A2A2 seaman for AI program in Srilanka. we raised these health problem based on book Devil in the milk , & created dialog among stakeholders , finally we achieved the target & we take it as a opportunity for us. thank u sir

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