Yesterday I posted comments about Lactagen, a probiotic "solution" to lactose intolerance. Today I want to talk about one of its competitors, Digestive Advantage.
Digestive Advantage is a family of products made by Ganeden Biotech. You can also find them on the Rofay Biomedical site. [Update: The Rofay site no longer says it is the exclusive dealer but, "Comparison shop the web - our prices and shipping cost - give you a total lower cost compared to anyone else on the web!" However, the Ganeden people asked me to assure you that you can get their products at many online stores as well as walk-in stores.]
All the products are made with "healthy bacteria" of the Lactobacillus family. (Not Lactobacillus acidophilus but their own proprietary strains.) There are Digestive Advantage products for Lactose Intolerance - both an adult and a chewable children's version; Irritable Bowel Syndrome - regular and chewable; Crohn’s and Colitis; Constipation; and Gas Prevention.
Just in case: the other Digestive Advantage products say:
Allergy warning: This product may contain trace amounts of casein (milk protein).
However, neither the Digestive Advantage LI nor Children's LI have even a trace of casein. And of course a trace of casein is only a concern for people with the most severe dairy allergies, although it does mean it is not acceptable for vegans and must be watched by those keeping Kosher. Casein is not a problem for anyone with just lactose intolerance, though.
The children's version is chewable and cherry-flavored, but otherwise the same as the adult version. There is not a children's "dose" of a probiotic, since it is not a drug.
The difference between Lactagen and Digestive Advantage are, in my opinion, more in the way they are marketed than in biochemistry. Lactagen puts itself forward as a one-time, 38-day course of probiotics. It's therefore much more expensive at $149.95. Digestive Advantage is meant to be taken regularly as a daily supplement. It is much cheaper at first - 32 caplets for $9.99 [as of March 2009] - but over time it will cost more than Lactagen. The other difference is that Digestive Advantage comes with lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose. This may be of some help, but since you only take Digestive Advantage once a day and lactase should really be taken with the first bite of dairy I find that this is not a significant advantage.
Just as I did with Lactagen, I'm posting some of the comments I've received in emails.
● I just wanted to send an e-mail expressing how much I like their products. I have been diagnosed with ulcerated colitis and the only medication that gave me any relief along with increased weight gain and a very chubby face was prednisone. The last medication was a heavy duty immune suppressant that made my hair brittle, my skin break and bleed and really didn't help me that much. The doctor said that my colon on a scale from 1-10 is a 9 for not very good. I have recently started to use the Digestive Advantage for ulcerated colitis and another product called Sustence and I finally am seeing some relief. I hope that they never go out of business. I have had this trouble for the last 10 years and now I am feeling so much better. I have spent a lot of money on different products and medications trying to get relief and this product is the best I have found so far. - Dianne
● I've tried DA for about 1 month now, and am very pleased with the results. Stomach pain which was almost constant is gone. - S.
● I have been using Digestive Advantage for over a year. I was amazed at how well they worked. Now I take one pill a day and eat ANYTHING I want. For years I used other products, taking several whenever I thought something might have milk products in it and never being symptom free. I can't tell you how many times I have been up almost all night with terrible cramps and diarrhea. Now the only time I have those old familiar symptoms is the very rare times I forget to take my morning pill! - Kaye
● +1 for positive experiences
I'd consider my lactose intolerance mild to medium, having started (or when I noticed a connection) in my mid-20's. Prior to Digestive Advantage, my solution was diary avoidance or Lactaid Ultra tablets (which wasn't nearly as effective as DA). - Reginald
● A friend suggested Lactaid but when I saw Digestive Advantage was once a day, I thought we would try that instead. Yesterday we did a test with ice cream and he had no pain and no diarrhea. This morning he had milk with his cereal and again no problems. We will continue to limit his intake but it’s nice to know that he can enjoy parties again and not be afraid that he won’t make it to a bathroom. I will be contacting his doctor to make sure he can continue to take Digestive Advantage but, as a Mom, this has been a life saver to a 10 year old boy. - BB
● I wanted to let you know that I tried Digestive Advantage (after a long period of dithering because if it doesn't work, the consequences are so unpleasant...). I wish I had done so sooner! My entire inside felt different. More at rest, as it were. More sturdy. More able to withstand. And I of course went wild, after initial caution, and ate dairy desserts, drank a milkshake (a very strange and scary thing to do after years of abstinence) and had a wonderful time. It seems to work all right, especially if I took the recommended 2 a day for sensitive people. Definitely well enough to merit further extensive testing. - Karen
● I found Digestive Advantage through your site and want to let you know that it's been working for me. I tried the free sample and thought it seemed promising (though the sample wasn't enough for me to decide whether to keep using the product. The sample is enough for 6 days, and it took over a week to really have an effect). I've now been using it for over a month, and it's great. Not 100% perfect, but SO much better than depending on Lactaid. The main advantage is not having to worry about hidden dairy products. But I've been able to eat pizza and ice cream (not together) with acceptable ill effects (I'd rather not go into graphic details). The main drawback is cost -- you have to take it every day. But I found it at a good price on eBay. - Robert
But as I always warn people, nothing works for everybody.
● My 14 year old daughter has been taking this product for months. We were so happy to find something she could take once a day instead of always trying to remember to bring her lactaid pills. But now it seems to be not working as well. She has not taken any antibiotics or other medications. - Devon
Still, overall the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Since it is a probiotic, it may be affected by antibiotics. Antibiotics will kill the "good" bacteria along with the "bad." There's nothing that can be done about it except to start over and re-colonize the bacteria.
There you have it. Two effective, outwardly similar products that approach the marketing in totally different directions. Your choice. Both should work. For some people the daily dose of probiotic may be more effective; for others the short course will work fine.
For previous comments on Digestive Advantage, see 'Get Uncorked and Go to Cork!' (2/12/2007); Vampire Vic and his digestive woes (10/26/2006); and Digestive Advantage (5/10/2006).