Sugar comes in many forms. One type of sugar, lactose, occurs primarily in milk. Nature gives young children the ability to digest lactose, because they need to do so when they nurse. However, as people grow up, they often lose the lactose-digesting enzyme, known as lactase . The result is a condition called lactose intolerance. Symptoms include intestinal cramps, gas, and diarrhea following consumption of lactose-containing foods.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Lactose intolerance is most prevalent in people of Hispanic, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Native American descent, although Caucasians can develop it as well. Treatment consists primarily of avoiding foods containing lactose, such as milk and ice cream. Use of lactase supplements may help people who are lactose intolerant handle more lactose than otherwise. Also, special milk products are available from which the lactose has been removed (often through the use of lactase).
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Aside from lactase, there are no effective natural treatments for lactose intolerance. Despite some positive anecdotes, scientific evidence suggests that use of
will not improve symptoms.
Many people confuse milk allergy with lactose intolerance. The two conditions are not related. Milk allergy involves an allergic reaction to the protein component of milk, and lactase supplements will not help. For more information on natural approaches to food allergies, see the
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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