The study involved researchers from Meiji’s R&D and new product development division, as well as Kayaba-cho Mental Health Care Clinic.
Findings of the study were published in Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics (JPT).
The Japanese dairy and confectionery giant said that menstrual discomfort was one of the areas that it would like to address through nutrition.
“In recent years, due to the increase in the employment rate of women, the increase in the number of menstruation due to the decrease in the number of births in life, and the increase in the age when they give birth for the first time – the influence of menstruation-related discomfort on women’s daily life is recognised as a social issue.
“We will continue to conduct research on health-related issues and contribute to the creation of a society in which various people can play an active role,” the company said.
Bovine milk-derived alpha-lactalbumin was used in this study involving 60 Japanese women.
Randomised into the intervention and placebo group, they took in either five capsules each containing 180mg of alpha-lactalbumin or placebo capsules from the 8th day after their last menstrual period started to the 4th day of their next menstruation.
During the study, the menstrual distress questionnaire (MDQ) was used to assess the subjects’ premenstrual period and menstrual period symptoms.
Also, a visual analog scale (VAS) for menstrual pain was administered during the first four days of menstruation.
This is the first phase of the trial. After which, all subjects underwent a washout period, where they did not consume any study product for their upcoming menstrual cycle.
Following the washout period, the subjects swapped the study products and the same set of MDQ and VAS tests were used to record their symptoms.
Eventually, the findings of 55 subjects were used in the analysis.
A key finding was reduction in fatigue during menstruation.
The score for fatigue was 1 for the group taking alpha-lactalbumin and slightly lower than 1.5 for the placebo group.
On the other hand, the score for physical discomfort during menstruation was lower than 10 for the group taking alpha-lactalbumin and higher than 10 for the placebo group.
“The results indicate that alpha-lactalbumin can have a beneficial effect by lessening the feeling of exhaustion and other physical symptoms related to menstruation,” the researchers said.
They explained that this could be due to the analgesic effect of alpha-lactalbumin, which could suppress inflammation and pain.
Source: Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics Volume 48, Issue 8, 1409 - 1427 (2020)
Relieving Effects of Bovine Milk-derived Alpha-lactalbumin on Menstruation-related Symptoms in Healthy Women Volunteers: A Randomised, Blind, Placebo-controlled Crossover study
Authors: Rika Murakami et al