Lactose-intolerance Ayurvedic Treatment

The group of symptoms developed due to partial/ complete indigestion of lactose (sugar contained in milk) is called Lactose intolerance. Very low production of enzyme lactase in small intestine is the cause of this condition. Three types of lactose intolerance are there- primary (most common), secondary and congenital/ developmental. Infants’ small intestine produces adequate amounts of lactase as they depend on milk for thriving. As the baby grows, lactase production is dropped automatically due to the change in diet from milk to other food, and is called primary lactose intolerance. A decrease in the production of lactase enzyme in small intestine causes secondary lactose intolerance, and its usual reasons are some diseases and injury/ surgery. If a baby is born with low/ no production of lactase enzyme it is called developmental lactose intolerance. 

Signs and symptoms

 The usual signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance are bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, gas trouble, vomiting and diarrhoea. They start after half to two hours of having lactose containing food. 

Ayurvedic analysis

 Ayurveda explains the concept of Vyadhikshamatwa (the power of fighting against foreign bodies/ microbes) as the reason of intolerance to certain food items in some people. Those who cannot take a specific food/ drink will have a low Vyadhikshamatwa, and is often associated with prakrti (body constitution). This condition is not curable, and hence the only way is to avoid the triggering food/ drink and replace them with an alternative. 

Causative factors (Ayurveda)

 Agnimandya (reduced power of digestion) is the main cause although Vyadhikshamatwa also plays an important role. Other major reason is beejabhaga avayava dushti (genetic factor). 

Possible complications

 The common complications are dehydration due to diarrhoea and vomiting, fatigue etc. 

Other systemic diseases and precautions to be taken

Premature birth, certain diseases of small intestine (eg: Chron’s disease), history of cancer in small intestine/ its treatment are should be ruled out before starting treatment. 

Management

 This condition is not curable, but can be managed. Treatment is focused on improving agni and Vyadhikshamatwa. Internal medicines are given for this purpose. Virechana (purgation) and nasya (nasal instillation of medicine) are also effective. Thereafter, rasayana drugs are given for support. 

Diet

 For infants with lactose intolerance, replace the milk with other supplements. Those having intolerance to only some dairy products should avoid it. After treatment, try to include milk and dairy products slowly in diet. 

Exercise

 Mild to moderate exercise can improve Vyadhikshamatwa. 

Preventive aspects

 The only way to avoid lactose intolerance is to avoid milk and dairy products that cause difficulty. 

Importance of diet

 As milk is the main source of calcium and vitamin D, replace it with other supplements that can compensate the nutrients. 

Lifestyle 

 The person with lactose intolerance should avoid taking milk and dairy products.

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