Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lactagen User Trial Diary: Day 1

For those of you who don’t know (and I’m guessing that’s most of you) I am lactose intolerant. What that means is that my body no longer has the ability to break down the natural sugar (or lactose) that occurs in dairy. I manage the issue by taking a supplement called Lactaid anytime I have something containing dairy. It usually works just fine, but every once in a while it just doesn’t cut it. And I have to have it available at all times to take. And you have to take it with your first bite of diary for it to be most effective. If I fail to take the Lactaid or fail to take it at the right time what ensues is not pretty. It ranges from mild cramps and diarrhea to something akin to the worst food poisoning you’ve ever experienced.

Lactose intolerance has always been billed as “treatable” (i.e. supplements like Lactaid) but not curable. However recently, I found a product that claims to cure lactose intolerance in 38 days. Permanently. Forever. Cure. Its called Lactagen. Ok so that sounds pretty attractive, but like any good cynical lawyer I had serious doubts. First, why isn’t this product being touted by the press at large if it really is the first known cure to lactose intolerance? Second, what do they have to back up their claims? For the steep cost ($150) I wanted more.

Well I did my research and looked at some (supposed) independent reviews (on ask.yahoo.com, on various blogs and on an occasional website) and found that most people who tried it seemed to support it. Most did claim to be able to eat dairy with no ill effects. And I did find one study that also seemed to support the claim of the makers of Lactagen (but there were caveats that it was not a long term study and that there was a chance a varying strict regimen of yogurt could do the same thing). Finally, there was the 6 month, money-back refund offered by the company. So I signed up.

I’ve decided to post my progress here. While I won’t blog about it daily, I will mark milestones along the way and will keep up even after the 38 days on my status. Hopefully either way it will help people who are LI become more educated about this new product.

My Lactagen came last night and when I opened the package I guess I was a little underwhelmed. The “guide” was a 3 or 4 page handout and the Lactagen itself was a small canister of ultra-fine white powder. But I read through all the materials (which I will say was actually nice it wasn't a small treatise) and, since you take it with dinner, decided to start right away.

For the first two days they suggest you take your dinner and dose with 8oz of yogurt. The containers I had only had 6oz in them so I figured that would have to suffice. The powder comes with two small scoops – one about an 1/8th tsp and one about a tablespoon. The guide shows you how many of each scoops to mix in with your water or juice (you are specifically told not to mix it with dairy, alcohol, coffee, or anything other that water, juice or iced tea). You start out with just one of the tiny scoops and work your way up, over 34 days, to 4 large scoops. The last 4 days are just working dairy back into your diet.

I mixed the one scoop into my water and was hesitant to drink. I’ve had plenty of health powders and potions that claim to be undetectable in water that make your toes curl. Lactagen claimed the powder would be tasteless or very slightly sweet. I’m happy to report I did find it to be truly tasteless, so that was nicely unexpected. They ask that you don’t have any other dairy with your meals while on the program (or at least limit it to one serving per WEEK) so that will be something I’ll have to be mindful of.

Last night I had:

  • ½ order PF Chang’s crispy honey chicken
  • Brown rice
  • 3 Crab wontons
  • 8oz water with 1 sm scoop of Lactagen
  • 8oz plain water

The handout was very firm in the point that there should be no side effects from the Lactagen whatsoever except in the rare case of someone “severely” lactose intolerant. In fact they mention that you should not worry about starting the program on a weekend or any special day. Because of that I was really bummed out when about 5 mins after dinner I began to feel the familiar cramping and bloating! It wasn’t horrid but severe enough that I didn’t want to go for an evening walk or even focus on reading my book. Happily I did not experience any diarrhea and the bloating and cramps lessened over the course of the next 30-45 mins (as I um..."released" the gas) to a place where they were not a big problem. However overall I was disappointed in the side effects. I am not severely LI; in fact I can have some dairy with no problems at all (cheese pizza, sour cream on a taco, cheese in my chili, etc). I have a friend whose husband cannot even have buttermilk brownies or he will get sick. So I wonder who else may have problems starting out.

I will say the side effects were not anywhere near enough for me to cease the program and I will be having “day 2” tonight. I’ll report back with regular updates! (I’m so investigative journalistic huh? I bet I win a Peabody for this). As the front of the hand-out says: Go Moo!

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