Purpose: This pilot study aimed to determine whether raw milk reduces lactose malabsorption and/or lactose intolerance symptoms relative to pasteurized milk.
Methods: We performed a crossover trial involving 16 adults with self-reported lactose intolerance and lactose malabsorption confirmed by hydrogen (H2) breath testing. Participants underwent 3, 8-day milk phases (raw vs 2 controls: pasteurized, soy) in randomized order separated by 1-week washout periods. On days 1 and 8 of each phase, milk consumption was 473 mL (16 oz); on days 2 to 7, milk dosage increased daily by 118 mL (4 oz), beginning with 118 mL (4 oz) on day 2 and reaching 710 mL (24 oz) on day 7. Outcomes were area under the breath H2 curve (AUC H2) and self-reported symptom severity (visual analog scales: flatulence/gas, audible bowel sounds, abdominal cramping, diarrhea).
Results: AUC H2 (mean ± standard error of the mean) was higher for raw vs pasteurized on day 1 (113 ± 21 vs 71 ± 12 ppm·min·10(-2), respectively, P = .01) but not day 8 (72 ± 14 vs 74 ± 15 ppm·min·10(-2), respectively, P = .9). Symptom severities were not different for raw vs pasteurized on day 7 with the highest dosage (P >.7). AUC H2 and symptom severities were higher for both dairy milks compared with soy milk.
Conclusions: Raw milk failed to reduce lactose malabsorption or lactose intolerance symptoms compared with pasteurized milk among adults positive for lactose malabsorption. These results do not support widespread anecdotal claims that raw milk reduces the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Keywords: adult; dairy products; lactose intolerance; soy milk.