Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lactase Drops and What to Drop Them In

Now that lactase drops are available for direct sale in the U.S. once again, I'm beginning to get more questions about their use.

Drops were the original form of lactase on the market. (Well, technically, lactase powder was the original form, but people didn't like dealing with powder.) The idea was simple. You added lactase to milk, the lactase split (digested) the lactose into the simpler sugars glucose and galactose, and you drank the milk. VoilĂ . No symptoms.

Except that like most miracle cures (as seen on TV) it didn't always seem to work quite as well in your own refrigerator as the directions made you hope. There's always a trade-off. It takes time for the lactase to work, and the milk has to be kept cold through the process. The more lactase you used, the faster it worked, but then you used up the bottle quicker. And was that one big drop or two little ones that just squeezed out together?

With time came convenience. Companies made 100% lactose-free milk and other lactose-free dairy products available in dairy cases everywhere. Lactase pills allowed you to have dairy without waiting for it. Slowly the drops market shrank, until nobody in the U.S. sold drops at all.

For all their faults, drops still have a number of advantages that kept people fans all these dry years (often mail-ordering them from Canada, where they never left the shelves). Store-bought lactose free milk can cost up to twice that of regular milk. Drops are a much cheaper way to get lactose free goodness, especially now with the prices of all foods rising. Lactose free milk is slightly sweeter than regular milk, so you can adjust the number of drops you use to regulate the taste for your personal taste buds. Drops can be used in any liquid dairy product. Those other lactose-free dairy products never sold really well either, which makes them hard to find in many places.

Nursing mothers whose babies become temporarily lactose intolerant, say from a "stomach flu" or gastrointestinal illness, can express their milk, add drops, and nurse their babies with it a day or two later without having to resort to formulas until their intestines heal.

Some limitations remain. Drops still need to be thoroughly stirred into a liquid and stored cold. And that means you can't use drops in cooking. While you can start with a lactose-free milk, you can't expect to mix the lactase drops into cooked pudding or cakes and get good results.

Different brands have slightly different instructions as well. If you're trying a new brand I'd advise you to start with what they tell you to do. However, the trade-off between more drops and faster work remains. You can decide for yourself which route you want to follow once you're sure you have the basics down.

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous said...

I use to use the drops when I was younger and now use the pills. I was glad to see you can drops again because my 3 yrs old son was just take off milk so the drops will be great ,so he still can have milk,which he loves !! Thanks for info. and the web site ,I just ordered 2 bottles

Anonymous said...

I used the drops, lots of them, on a quart of plain yogurt, left it for 24 hours, and still got sick when i had a few spoonfuls. do the drops not work on yogurt?