Lactase is the enzyme that digests lactose. Virtually all humans make lactase at birth so that they can digest the lactose in breastmilk. Starting at about three, the age of normal weaning, humans, like almost every other mammal, naturally stop producing lactase. It's just not needed.
Not having lactase results in lactose intolerance, the name for having symptoms when you drink or eat any dairy product that contains lactose, which is most of them.
Wouldn't it be great if scientists could figure out a way to artificially manufacture lactase?
Back in the 1970s, a Dutch company named Gist-Brocades did exactly that. Along the way they discovered something fascinating and important. It all has to do with digestion.
The human stomach is highly acidic. Hydrochloric acid is produced to help digest and break down food. Stomach acid could burn holes in your shirt if it leaked out.
Lactase is made in the small intestine, under conditions that are far less acidic. In fact, if you swallow lactase it won't work. The stomach acid will destroy it.
So the first product that Gist-Brocade made was a lactase that was designed to be put directly into milk. Milk is less acid than the stomach, so if you just let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two, the lactase would break down all the lactose, making it safe to drink.
It took several years and much tinkering to come up with a form of lactase that could withstand the acid in stomachs and several more before a lactase pill entered the American market. Lactaid introduced the lactase pill in 1984 and the lactose intolerance rejoiced. (I sure did.)
For many years, Lactaid, its competitor Dairy Ease, and other firms made both lactase pills and a liquid lactase that could be dropped into milk or other liquid or soft dairy products. Lactase drops never took off in the marketplace. Americans love convenience and immediate gratification. I eventually had to break the bad news to Americans that the only way to get lactase drops was to import them from Canada. Gelda Scientific, the firm that made the lactase for the Canadian brand Lacteeze, graciously worked with me to make contact information available. See my Lactase Drops page (now revised, obviously) to order them
And that was it.
Until this week, when I received an email from Brian C. He gave me the amazing news that he could get liquid lactase drops from the online store of
IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, Washington or The Center for Food Allergies, same address.
Liquid Lactase is the only liquid source of lactase available and is appropriate for anyone with lactose intolerance, including infants. This dropper bottle is the perfect solution at home and on the go for alleviating digestive problems associated with lactose intolerance. Lactase is an enzyme that hydrolyses (breaks down) the lactose in milk and milk products into glucose and galactose, two forms of simple sugars that can be digested and tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals. Liquid Lactase can be taken directly or added to dairy products prior to consumption.
Liquid Lactase Drops contains: 15 milliliters of lactase in solution. Non-active ingredients: purified water and glycerol.
Suggested Dosage: General guideline: Add five drops of Liquid Lactase to one pint (568 ml) of milk and refrigerate for 24 hours. Use as ordinary milk. Each 15 ml bottle is able to convert approximately 75 pints of milk. Alternatively, five drops can be taken directly in water or juice prior to consumption of dairy products.
Liquid Lactase Drops: $14.95
Do they work? Brian said:
We have used them to successfully treat milk (it tastes better to me than Lactaid milk), buttermilk, yogurt, and even cream cheese. ... My fiancée is extremely sensitive to lactose, and we have found this stuff to be amazing. She doesn't have any problem eating or drinking foods treated properly.
Some investigation found that these drops are made by Pharmax LLC.
Pharmax LLC, a privately owned company, was established in 1998 as a strategic alliance between highly experienced American healthcare professionals and Cultech Limited, the prime nutritional supplement development and manufacturing company in the U.K. Cultech is the market-leading provider of research-driven nutraceuticals to healthcare professionals in U.K and within Europe as a whole.
Pharmax Liquid Lactase is not limited to Seattle. I found it on Amazon.com for $11.30 a bottle.
Other outlets may exist that I haven't found yet. As always, I am not endorsing either the product or the sellers, just passing along information.
While I was searching, though, I found lactase drops in other countries as well so I'll list several here for completeness.
Lactaid Drops for Milk.
BioCare Lactase Enzyme.