Lactose intolerance is difficulty in digesting the lactose (natural principal sugar) in dairy products because of the deficiency of an enzyme called lactase which is produced in the small intestine. The function of lactase is to break the lactose so that it can be absorbed in the body. Normally the lactase breakdowns the lactose into two simple sugars that is glucose and galactase after which it is easily absorbed in the bloodstream through the lines of the intestine. Instead of being digested in the small intestine, lactose goes in the large intestine and therein fermented. The patient may experience symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rumbling and gurgling in the abdomen, and stomach pain or cramps in the abdomen after 30 minutes or two hours of drinking or eating dairy products containing lactose. Sometimes patients may complain of other symptoms like chronic weakness, anxiety, sweating, headache, nervousness, difficulty in sleeping, acne and poor concentration may also occur.
Some people can digest milk and milk products with low lactase levels. Sometimes Lactose intolerance can be a result of a bacterial and viral infection or gastroenteritis, coeliac disease, and Crohn’s disease damaging the intestines or due to a genetic predisposition. In adults, lactose intolerance may be the result of some treatment like treatment of chemotherapy for cancer which may affect the intestinal lining. Other causes of lactose intolerance are intestinal surgery, metabolic disorders, and hormonal imbalance. Lactose intolerance is harmless however the symptoms may be uncomfortable and in growing kids, it may lead to serious deficiencies in terms of nutrients, according to studies by the University of Toronto lactose intolerance is related to vitamin D deficiency which leads to slow bone growth. Children who are born prematurely are prone to lactase deficiency.
Lactose intolerance and Milk Allergy:
Lactose intolerance should not be confused with a milk allergy. Sometimes lactose intolerance is often mistaken with a milk allergy. Milk constitutes two main proteins casein and whey, in some instances, the immune system errs to shield the body in opposition to these proteins leading to a reaction normally termed as a milk hypersensitive reaction or milk allergy and milk allergy is the true allergy. Milk allergy originates in infancy wherein the digestive system is still in the developing phase and not developed properly to digest these proteins but it is prevalent among all age groups. The symptoms may be a bit similar to Lactose intolerance, in both conditions mainly gastrointestinal tract symptoms are present but in milk allergy apart from gastrointestinal symptoms, one may have other symptoms like hives, itchy rash, wheezing, cough, and anaphylaxis. Milk allergy is solely an immune reaction. The good part of lactose intolerance kids is one can enjoy milk and milk products with simple management strategies however in children who have milk allergy is they should avoid milk and milk products completely unless the allergy is completely outgrown.
Usually based on clinical symptoms the diagnosis is made there is no need to go for a test in every case, sometimes your doctor may advise the following tests:
1) Standard lactose tolerance test- Blood sugar test
2) Lactose Hydrogen breathe test
2) Elimination DIY test – Try a lactose-free diet this is as simple as it sounds. If you suffer from clinical symptoms (like abdominal cramps and diarrhea) sticking to a lactose-free diet for 3-4 weeks could give you the answers you want without any expensive tests.
The standard treatment focuses on:
In a conventional line of treatment there are no specific medicines or cures for this condition however it can be managed with the following measures:
1) Avoiding dairy products totally
2) Use of a low-lactose diet
3) Use of lactose-free products
4) Use of lactase supplements
Homeopathic medicines help to stimulate the body’s own healing capacity and the body’s circulation and activate the metabolism. While giving the homeopathic drug treatments it notes ordinarily the main signs and symptoms of the patient together with a few differentiating additional pieces of information (modalities) then the proper remedy will be chosen for the treatment of lactose intolerance.
In homeopathy, there are more than 60 remedies for lactose intolerance, which are given based on the Holistic approach, few of them are as follows:
1) Aethusa Cyanpium:
Aethusa cyanpium is the primary remedy for Lactose intolerance in children. It is indicated in cases of congenital absence of lactase. The child vomits the milk as soon as swallowed, the vomitus is curd-like. The child may be constipated because of milk or may have undigested thin, loose green stools. The child may complain of colic and tenesmus with drowsiness and great prostration. The gastric upset is linked to the brain and nervous system causing anguish and making the child more irritable, cranky, and crying.
2) Lac- Defloratum:
The Lac Defloratum is indicated when eating dairy products or ingestion of milk causes severe constipation. The stool is hard, large needs to strain causing pain and lacerating the anus. This is a great remedy for diseases with faulty nutrition. Complaints are accompanied by great prostration.
3) Magnesia muriaticum:
Magnesia muriaticum is also considered as one of the best remedies for Lactose intolerance where one cannot digest the milk and causes pain in the abdomen and gases. The other gastric complaints like belching or eructation which smell or taste like rotten eggs after taking milk. One may complain of constant white froth in the mouth.
So these are a few Homeopathic remedies used in the treatment of Lactose intolerance, there are many other remedies. Once you consult a professional Homeopath based on the history doctor may make the right choice of remedy.
As a Homeopath, I recommend you choose Homeopathy to treat and prevent lactose intolerance and lactase deficiency with Homeopathy.
Many mothers have a question if their child is intolerant to lactose then is there any way to boost calcium levels without dairy? And the answer is yes! Because calcium is present in many other foods apart from milk and milk products. Calcium plays an important role in bone health, heart function, and nerve transmission so it is important to get the daily requirements of calcium for maintaining a healthy body. So people who are intolerant to lactose or allergic to dairy should monitor their calcium levels closely.
Alternative foods for milk that can help you to get plenty of calcium and Vitamin D are almonds, tofu, egg yolks, beef liver, fatty fish, dried beans, fortified orange juice, kidney beans, soybeans, almond and rice milk, fruits like papaya, oranges, green vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Avoid taking milk, ice cream, cheese, bread, chocolate, ketchup, mayonnaise.
-Written by Dr.Mithila K, Associate doctor to Dr.Rajesh Shah, MD (Hom)