Lactose intolerance is the difficulty in digesting lactose (natural principal sugar) in dairy products due to 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. However, in a lactose-intolerant individual, 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 2 hours of drinking or eating dairy products containing lactose. Sometimes, the patient may complain of other symptoms, such as chronic weakness, anxiety, sweating, headache, nervousness, difficulty in sleeping, acne, and poor concentration.
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, gastroenteritis, coeliac disease, and Crohn’s disease damaging the intestines or, even, due to a genetic predisposition. In adults, lactose intolerance may be the result of some treatment, such as the 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 of nutrients. According to the studies by the University of Toronto, the lactose intolerance is related to vitamin D deficiency, which leads to slow bone growth. Children who are born prematurely are prone to lactase deficiency.
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Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergy:
Lactose intolerance should be considered as a milk allergy. Sometimes, lactose intolerance is often mistaken as a milk allergy. Milk constitutes two main proteins, namely casein and whey. And, in some instances, the immune system errs to shield the body in opposition to these proteins, thereby leading to a reaction normally termed as a milk hypersensitive reaction or milk allergy, and such a milk allergy is a 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 also prevalent among all the age groups. The symptoms may be a bit similar to Lactose intolerance, as in both the conditions mainly gastrointestinal tract symptoms are present. But, in milk allergy, apart from gastrointestinal symptoms, one may have other symptoms, such as hives, itchy rash, wheezing, cough, and anaphylaxis. Milk allergy is solely an immune reaction. The good part of lactose intolerance in kids is one can enjoy milk and milk products with simple management strategies, however, in the children, who have a milk allergy, it is better to avoid milk and milk products completely unless the allergy is completely outgrown.
Diagnosis of Lactose Intolerance:
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, and this is as simple as it sounds. If you suffer from clinical symptoms (such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea) sticking to a lactose-free diet for 3-4 weeks may answer your questions without any expensive tests.
Treatment for Lactose Intolerance:
The standard treatment focuses on:
In the conventional line of treatment, there are no specific medicines or treatment for this condition, however, it can be managed with the following measures:
1) Avoiding dairy products totally
2) Following a low-lactose diet
3) Using lactose-free products
4) Having lactase supplements
Homeopathic Treatment for Lactose Intolerance:
Homeopathic medicines help to stimulate the body’s innate healing capacity and the body’s circulation and activate the metabolism. While giving the homeopathic drug treatments, the homeopath notes the main signs and symptoms of the patient together with a few differentiating additional pieces of information (modalities) and then chooses the proper remedy for the treatment of lactose intolerance.
In homeopathy, there are more than 60 remedies for lactose intolerance, which are given based on a holistic approach. A 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. When the child vomits the milk as soon as swallowed and the vomitus is curd-like, this medicine is indicated. When the child suffers from constipation because of milk or passes undigested thin, loose green stools, this remedy is recommended. This medicine is effective in treating the child who complains of colic and tenesmus with drowsiness and great prostration. The gastric upset is linked to the brain and nervous system, thereby causing anguish and making the child more irritable, cranky, and crying.
2) Lac- Defloratum:
The Lac Defloratum is indicated when, after eating dairy products or ingestion of milk, the person suffers from severe constipation. When the stool is hard, large, and the need to strain causes pain and ends up lacerating the anus, this medicine may help. This a great remedy for diseases resulting due to faulty nutrition. When the complaints are accompanied by great prostration, this remedy may help.
3) Magnesia Muriaticum:
Magnesia muriaticum is also considered as one the best remedies for Lactose intolerance, where one cannot digest the milk and suffers from the pain in the abdomen and gases. Other gastric complaints, such as belching or eructation which smell or taste like rotten eggs after taking milk, also indicate this remedy. Magnesia muriaticum helps when one may complain of constant white froth in mouth.
So, these are a few homeopathic remedies used in the treatment of lactose intolerance. Also, there are many other remedies. Once you consult a professional homeopath, and, based on history, the doctor may make the right choice of remedy.
As a Homeopath, I recommend you to choose Homeopathy to treat and prevent lactose intolerance and lactase deficiency.
Many mothers have a question if their child is intolerant to lactose and whether there is any way to boost calcium levels without dairy? And, the answer is yes! Calcium is present in many other foods apart from milk and milk products. Calcium plays an important role in maintaining good bone health, heart function, and nerve transmission so it is important to get the daily requirement 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 which 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, and green vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Avoid taking milk, ice-cream, cheese, bread, chocolate, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
So, if you or your child happen to suffer from lactose intolerance, count on homeopathy without a second thought to relief.