I may get more questions about Lactagen than any other single item.
That's not surprising. Lactagen makes the strongest claims about its effectiveness. It's website says that "Lactagen®'s patented one-time 38-day program is the only real solution to lactose intolerance." That's actually a milder version. It at one time touted itself as a cure for lactose intolerance.
Lactagen also spends an inordinate amount of money on advertising, marketing, and promotion. I bet that you'll see an ad for Lactagen in the Google ads section at the upper left of this screen, even when this article scrolls away. (I have no knowledge of and no control over what ads Google places there. It uses a keyword algorithm to decide what is appropriate.)
And Lactagen is upping the ante, according to a new press release.
Direct response television agency Atomic Direct has released a 60-second and a 120-second spot for Ritter Natural Sciences.
The testimonial-based spots are for Lactagen, a powder supplement program that reduces symptoms of lactose intolerance.
According to RNS, the ads aim to separate Lactagen from Lactaid and similar products they claim provide either temporary relief or, in some cases, no relief at all.
The spots feature real-life testimonials of lactose-intolerant people who have been symptom-free since taking the product.
The campaign began airing last month and can also be viewed at Lactagen’s Web site at www.lactagen.com.
Los Angeles-based RNS is a health nutraceutical company with a concentration in dietary supplements for the digestive system.
So. Does Lactagen work? And if so, how does it work?
That's not easy to answer. I can only find one objective news article amidst all the press releases.
The Washington Post examined Lactagen's claims in its "Claim Check" column of Nov. 25, 2005.
Lactagen, a powdered supplement sold on the Web ( http://www.lactagen.com ; $129.95 [now $149.95] for a 38-day supply), resolves lactose intolerance -- an inability to digest the food sugar known as lactose that results from a deficiency of the digestive enzyme lactase -- once and for all. (Lactose intolerance has proven intractable because the lack of lactase is not reversible.) Mix the product with water or juice and consume it in increasing amounts over 35 days, says the company, and ice cream, pizza, cheese and milk are yours to relish.
Longtime lactose intolerant Andrew Ritter decided, at age 13, to devise a remedy for his ailment as a science-fair project. Encouraged by his science-fair success, Ritter ... tinkered for years (he's now 24), eventually coming up with Lactagen's brew of lactobacillus acidopholus (a "probiotic," or helpful bacterium, that's found in live yogurt cultures), lactose, phosphates, and gum and silica. Ritter cites an unpublished study in which 80 percent of 27 users reported improvement in their symptoms (which include gas, bloating, diarrhea and other unpleasantries) after 38 days, compared with 19 percent on placebo.
Gastroenterologist Theodore Bayless, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says it's "conceivable" that a probiotic could beef up the digestive tract's bacteria population -- which could then produce protective enzymes that would shield against excess gas. But forget company claims about "calming the digestive system," he says; inflammation has nothing to do with lactose intolerance.
What do my correspondents say?
Mostly positive things.
● I just got done with the program. Previously, milk/cheese products would cause me to be sick for at least 3 days. Lactaid supplements barely worked. The day after I finished the program, I was able to drink a 14oz glass of milk in the morning, and eat some homemade lasagna that evening (lots of cheese). Goodbye to moderation. It's not recommended to hit the dairy that hard, but I'm impressed. - Joe
● I have been thru with the regime for 5 weeks now. I feel I am 80% cured. I no longer have the gas (and everyone in my office is grateful), but still have the loose stools after eating too much cheese (3 pieces of sandwich size Muenster cheese with crackers for lunch yesterday). It does not seem to compound itself the way it used to, tho. I am telling everyone I know about it and they are all watching my progress. I was concerned if it would work, since during the taking of the product, I was still having lots of gas. I was comforted by the money-back guarantee, and whenever I felt I was wasting 34 days taking this I thought about the fact I would get my money back. It also took me 38 days, as the first experience with milk had me right back in the bathroom.
So it is not a miracle cure for me, but it is definitely a "walking cast" and I am able to go where I want and eat what I want without too much worry - C.
● I happened across your article this evening. I followed the program to the letter, and it has been a godsend to me. I was lactose intolerant for 15 years, and now I eat almost all dairy with absolutely no side effects. I say almost, as for some reason aged fresh-grated cheeses still do bother me a bit, though a milkshake or slice of cheesecake is no problem. I'd do it again in a moment and would recommend it to anyone. I wish I'd discovered it prior to spending about $5k on nearly daily lactaid over the years! I refused to give up dairy, but sure did pay the price, literally... - Karen
● I am approximately 4 weeks out of the lactagen program and I have had no trouble with milk, cheese, etc. Old habits die hard as I have to remind myself I can eat anything on the menu not just dishes I had taken to-go several times before I would even try it in the restaurant. There is one note to this, one must exercise caution directly after this program as I have been eating everything I haven't had in a decade and now I have to get a gym membership ;)
I would like to express my gratitude to the developer of the lactagen program! - Douglas
● I went through the program, and now recommend it wholeheartedly. I've been lactose intolerant for five or six years, and while lactaid type products helped initially, I had little luck with them after a few years. Skeptical at first (the price tag seems high) I decided to try Lactagen--fully expecting to ask for a refund when it didn't work. I even had a bout with the flu in the middle of the 38 day regime, and went off the program for three days. I picked up exactly where I left off with no problem. Apprehensively I started adding dairy to my diet and then even abused the privilege. Even though nervous (I kept waiting for the nausea, cramps and gas to reappear) I kept eating dairy. It's been about three months and I am still eating dairy (though I admit real butter tastes odd) with no apparent effect. Lactagen has worked for me, so far, much better than I ever imagined. - Bill
And a few negative.
● I recently took Lactagen for the recommended time and - NO DIFFERENCE!!! I'm still suffering with same effects from dairy intake. It actually seems worse! - Cheryl
● I ordered Lactagen and followed the directions perfectly, ate the yogurt like I was supposed to and after 39 days introduced the dairy back into my diet and ate dairy faithfully every week. The problem I ran into was after about 2 months I once again began having lactose intolerance symptoms, bloating, diarrhea, but I also get flu like symptoms, general malaise, and lack of energy and an overall draggy feeling like a hangover or early flu stage. I went back on the lactagen again and have continued to take 2-3 large scoops per day and more if I ingest a large amount of dairy. - Norrene
● By the way, I did the Lactagen program a year ago; at first it worked; I was ecstatic. Then it wore off. However, the Lactaid pills now work extremely well for me whereas before Lactagen, they did not! AND, I can also tolerate small amounts of milk products without anything... So if others ask, that's my experience with it. - Judy
● I recently visited your web page and noticed that you were soliciting responses about Lactagen so I wanted to share my experience.
The short explanation is it did not work. I originally purchased the product and followed the program exactly. However, I still had symptoms. Over the course of the next 2 months I periodically spoke to Lactagen representatives. None seemed to have a consistent answer to what I should do. Some told me that it was typical to have symptoms and that I should just continue on with the process while others advised me to return to a previous day (hence extending my time on the program). Once I had "completed" the program, I was not able to eat any dairy products without symptoms.
After a couple of months I decided to try it again. I called Lactagen and was charged shipping for a new canister to be sent to me (based on the money back guarantee) and began the process again. I finally gave up after 9 weeks of constant symptoms. Although the representatives were friendly, they rarely gave any insight into why I was still having symptoms and normally just suggested that I return to a few days earlier on the program.
It was, by far, the most frustrating experience of my "lactose intolerant" life. I am severely lactose intolerant. I cannot ingest any amount of dairy without having a reaction, so the thought of a cure was amazing. Unfortunately that was not the case. - Bab
More positives than negatives overall.
I've only included comments received via email since late 2005. For earlier comments, see my previous blog entries about Lactagen: Lactagen Response - It Worked for Her and Lactagen - Questions, No Answers
Bottom line. If you can afford it, then certainly give it a try. Remember, though, it's a solution - to the symptoms of lactose intolerance - not a cure. You can still overwhelm your system with too much dairy. And the same things that knock out any intestinal bacteria - a gastrointestinal illness, a course of antibiotics - will probably also wipe out the Lactagen probiotics.
Are there less pricy alternatives? Yes. I'll take a look at one of them tomorrow.