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Treating Lactose Intolerance: Three Treatment Options

Posted Jul 20 2010 5:51pm

 

Suffer from lactose intolerance and want it gone?

You are not alone.

Here are the three treatment options for treating lactose intolerance:

 

Lactose Intolerance affects nearly 25% of the US population or 1 in 9 people. 1

Knowing how the lactase enzyme operates and how it is produced is the key to effectively treating lactose intolerance.

At birth, we have high levels of the lactase enzyme produced by cells located in the small intestine. However, as we age, these cells produce less and less lactase enzyme.

As lactase enzyme levels drop due to decreased production, symptoms of lactose intolerance appear and increase in severity over time.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance occur after eating anything which contains lactose.

Lactose-containing foods is not limited to dairy products such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese, kefir, sour cream or butter. Lactose is found in pharmaceutical drugs and supplements as a filler or in compressed tablets, processed meats like hot dogs and sausages, whey protein concentrates, breakfast cereals, chips or processed foods in general. Read labels well.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance are mainly digestive and consist of:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • headache

Once cells in the small intestine stop or reduce production of the lactase enzyme, there are three options to effectively treat lactose intolerance:

  1. Completely avoid lactose containing products for the rest of your life in order to avoid symptoms of lactose intolerance. To me, this is not addressing the root problem, it is simply avoiding it.
    1. (Some cases of suspected lactose intolerance require full avoidance and I will go over them soon.)
  2. Take a supplement containing the lactase enzyme prior to eating anything containing dairy.
    1. Lactase supplements are great for short term treatment of lactose intolerance.
  3. Ingest specific probiotics which produce lactase enzyme. Probiotics are the long term treatment for lactose intolerance.

Avoiding dairy products the rest of your life if you enjoy them is not ideal; thus, Option 1 is not an option as a treatment for lactose intolerance for most people.

The fastest way to begin enjoying dairy products without any symptoms of lactose intolerance is to take a lactase enzyme supplement.

I'll guide you through the various lactase enzyme supplement options and in the end, you will have a clear idea which form of lactase enzyme supplement is best for you.

The problem with lactase enzyme supplements is they range all over the board in terms of effectiveness, delivery type, purity and potency.

Some upfront issues that I have seen in the lactase enzyme supplement industry:

  1. Ingredients containing food coloring, preservatives, and chemicals that I have never seen on other labels.
  2. Too little amount of lactase enzyme thereby being ineffective at short-term treatment of lactose intolerance.
  3. Way too much of the lactase enzyme thereby flooding the digestive system with an unnecessary amount of a digestive enzyme. Excess and unused enzymes interact with other enzymes released by the pancreas, small intestine and the liver. Enzymes are pH driven and temperature driven. If one enzyme is in too high amounts, it can interrupt pH and the release of other digestive enzymes causing improper digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  4. False label claims stating that the product contains X amount of lactase enzyme when there was no laboratory test done at all to confirm this. I have personally contacted some major lactase enzyme supplement manufacturers and they fail to provide proof of their label claim.
Here are the four forms of lactase enzyme supplements:

Powdered lactase enzyme supplements are great for people who do not enjoy swallowing pills and consume dairy products at home. Simply open the bottle, measure how much you need, drop it into the milk container, shake and wait 24 hours to drink. Powdered lactase enzyme supplements are cost-effective as they are added directly to liquid lactose-containing products. With a gallon of milk, you simply add a scoop of the lactase enzyme powder once. On the other hand, taking a capsule of lactase enzyme each time you drink a glass of milk or eat a cake made with milk gets expensive and annoying. The problems with powdered lactase supplements are that they can be messy and clump when adding to milk causing inadequate breakdown of lactose. There are also fillers added to lactose enzyme powders which may not be suitable for some individuals. A common filler is maltodextrin which is derived from corn or wheat. Taking a powdered lactase enzyme supplement before each meal containing dairy is not ideal.

Tablets and capsules containing lactase enzyme are convenient to take orally before ingesting dairy.  Capsules and tablets are also handy while on the go. The biggest problem with taking lactase enzymes orally is the lactase enzyme gets destroyed in the stomach acid. This makes taking the lactase enzyme supplement pretty worthless as a short-term treatment for lactose intolerance. Lactase enzyme tablets or capsules also cannot be added to liquid lactose-containing products such as milk. This means you have to swallow a capsule or pill of the lactase enzyme each time you drink a cup of milk. This can get expensive due to the numerous times milk is used in a day. Capsules and tablet forms of lactase enzymes also contain more flow agents, preservatives, colorings, and additives compared to powered or liquid lactase supplements. Tablets and capsules are also harder to control how much lactase enzyme you take - it is either 1 capsule or 2. With a powder or liquid, you control how much lactase enzyme you take thereby saving money and not interrupting other enzymatic processes due to excessive lactase enzyme.

Liquid lactase enzyme supplements are very popular in Europe and Canada. They are gaining popularity in the United States but are difficult to find. If liquid lactase supplements are found in your local store, make sure you read the potency as they can be quite ineffective at lower drops per serving. The benefit to liquid lactase supplements are they are easy to add to milk, taste good and inexpensive when comparing per dose cost.  Simply open the bottle and drop the liquid into the milk carton or any liquid lactose-containing product and shake.

Due to popular demand and a glaring need to have an effective liquid lactase in the United States, I developed a liquid lactase supplement, called Lactase Drops, that is:

  • potent 7 drops containing 1960 lactase units which is enough to reduce lactose by 70% in 1 pint of milk over 24 hours,
  • laboratory tested for effectiveness,
  • laboratory tested for molds, yeasts, fungi and bacteria
  • free of preservatives, flow agents and fillers.
  • has 94 servings per container,
  • treats 94 pints of milk,
  • free of soy, wheat, corn, casein, gluten
  • stored in a glass bottle with a glass dropper. BPA free and pthalate free.
  • easy to use: simply drop 7 drops into a liter of any type of milk, wait 24 hours and then drink. This method allows the liquid lactase supplement to digest most of the lactose.
  • one may place the drops of lactase in 3 ounces of water or juice, directly on the food, in the milk or on the tongue just prior to, during or just after eating ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese or any product containing lactose. This method is good for those who experience mild lactose intolerance or if they inadvertently ingested lactose and need to prevent lactose intolerance immediately.
  • easy to administer to children as the liquid lactase tastes quite sweet because it is in a base of glycerin.
  • safe to use in breastmilk or formula (once mixed) and administer to infants.

Let's move on to addressing how you can treat lactose intolerance long term.

Treating lactose intolerance long term requires producing the lactase enzyme internally.

What?! Yes - it is possible. 

As discussed earlier, when we are born, we produce lactase enzyme ourselves in high amounts and the ability to produce lactase drops as we age.

There is a way around this that is not often brought to people's attention.

Why? Likely because the lactase enzyme industry wants to keep it quiet. If everyone knew there was a long term solution to lactose intolerance, they would be all over it as it is the most cost-effective and proven method to treat lactose intolerance.

There are strains of bacteria which occur naturally in our digestive system that create the lactase enzyme.

However, they are not in high enough numbers so the amount of lactase enzyme they make is insignificant. They also get killed by antibiotics, stress, poor dietary choices, and harmful bacteria.

The lactase-producing bacteria can be replenished by taking specific probiotic strains in high amounts.

The probiotic strains I recommend are in the probiotic I developed, of course right? There are reasons for it and I will explain.

For those who just want to know what I recommend for long-term treatment of lactose intolerance - I recommend ProBiota 12 capsules.

The way to treat lactose intolerance long-term and properly is to:

  • Avoid lactose containing products for 1 month as this rests your digestive system allowing it to reset.
  • Take 2 capsules of ProBiota 12 at dinner time for 1 month.
  • Then take 1 capsule of ProBiota 12 at dinner time continuously.
  • I recommend using Lactase Drops in conjunction with ProBiota 12 for the first month to assist your digestion and not overwhelm it with lactose-containing foods.
  • Over a period of one to three months, taper the amount of Lactase Drops you use and continue taking ProBiota 12 capsules as suggested above
  • In time, approximately 3 months (I say approximately as everyone is unique), you should be able to tolerate lactose-containing products simply by taking a daily capsule of ProBiota 12 at dinner time.
  • There are numerous benefits to ProBiota 12 capsules beyond treating lactose intolerance:
    • improved digestion of foods overall
    • improved local gut immunity
    • decreased food intolerances and food allergies
    • candida and yeast diminished significantly
    • healthy bowel movements
    • improved breath
    • improved skin

If one ingests billions, not millions but billions, of these lactase-producing beneficial bacteria, then symptoms of lactose intolerance disappear.

However, there must be a balance of other beneficial bacteria and not just lactase-producing bacteria. Any one bacteria, even if beneficial, is no longer beneficial if it over-populates the small intestine. In order to prevent over-population and maintain lactase-producing bacteria, a probiotic formula must consist of multiple specials of bacteria. Multiple species of bacteria, taken in high amounts, keep each other in balance and prevent any one strain of bacteria from over-populating and causing undesired effects.

I did not think this was an important point until I worked with a boy with Autism.

I performed a laboratory test and found he was very high in lactic acid. The boy was high in lactic acid as his father was giving his Autistic son high potency lactobacillus bacteria. My medical training and numerous research articles show that giving children with autism probiotics is beneficial; however, the research failed to state that probiotics are beneficial when they contain multiple strains. 

I instructed the father to no longer provide lactobacillus to his son and instead prescribed Saccharomyces boulardii, which is a beneficial yeast. The boys lactic acid levels dropped significantly. Once the boys lactic acid levels return to normal, he will be put on ProBiota 12.

A word of caution about probiotics: There are numerous probiotics available claiming effectiveness and high potency. The problem is the potency and purity are not laboratory tested after manufacturing or pasteurization. Thus, after the probiotic sits on store shelves or is transported improperly, the purity and effectiveness no longer exists.

A quality probiotic should have these features in order to be effective:

  • contain a prebiotic which is necessary for probiotics to develop and reproduce
  • have protection against stomach acid so they are not destroyed upon swallowing
  • have enough strains to balance each other out so there is not any one dominant strain causing symptoms
  • have billions and billions of beneficial bacteria so they can effectively implant themselves on the intestinal walls and compete against harmful bacteria.
  • be laboratory tested to see if harmful strains have 'polluted' the supplement

ProBiota 12 has all these features.

In closing, I have to bring up a very important and essential point.

If treating lactose intolerance does not improve symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, headache, nausea, then you may not have lactose intolerance.

Instead, you may have a dairy intolerance. It may be necessary to completely avoid dairy products.

Common symptoms of intolerance or allergy to dairy are: 3

  • chronic or recurring ear problems, especially in children
  • wheezing
  • eczema
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • restless legs
  • muscle aches
  • 'growing pains'
  • coughing
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • stiff joints
  • inability to think clearly
  • irritability immediately or within 2 hours of eating dairy products
  • bed-wetting
  • throat sounds
  • chronic sinusitis or clear discharge from the nose
  • post-nasal drip
  • chronic sinus congestion
  • absolute love or addiction to every dairy product

If any of these symptoms are present, it is recommended to avoid all dairy products for at least 5 days but 2 weeks is ideal. Complete avoidance is essential. At the end of the two week period, eat a dairy product with each meal for the day. Keep note of symptoms which appear. If symptoms are present after the first meal containing dairy, there is no need to continue ingesting dairy, nor is it recommended.

If symptoms do appear after eliminating dairy, then avoid dairy products for 6 months. After 6 months, another attempt may be taken. If no symptoms appear after eating dairy products, then you are not as sensitive to dairy as you used to be. Eating dairy is OK to begin again but only every 4 days. If dairy products are eaten more frequently than in one meal every 4 days, symptoms will occur once again and complete avoidance for 6 months will be the only way to reduce symptoms.  Make sure to keep track when it is OK to eat dairy or have a day of the week where it is OK to eat dairy - such as Sunday or Tuesday.

For those needing assistance with Food Rotation and eliminating dairy, I highly recommendDr Sally Rockwell. She has some great resources to help people easily rotate foods.

With the above dietary modifications and supplement recommendations, I am confident your lactose intolerance will improve significantly or disappear altogether.

Should you have further questions or comments about Lactose Intolerance, please post them here.

Do let me know how you are doing in a few weeks after trying the suggestions and products above. I love feedback and it helps others know that natural medicine works!

In health,

Dr Ben

 

 

Resources about Lactose Intolerance:

 

  1. WrongDiagnosis.com has a great comprehensive article on Lactose Intolerance
  2. Wikipedia.com - Lactase
  3. Is this your Child?, by Doris Rapp, MD

 

 

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