New study on lactose intolerance finds raw milk is not necessarily a solution

David E. Gumpert, writing for

“For many years, raw-milk advocates have claimed that unpasteurized milk counters lactose intolerance — the upset stomach many people feel after consuming dairy products. There have been loads of anecdotal claims, and an unpublished study of raw milk drinkers in Michigan in 2007 showed that more than 80 percent of 155 individuals who said they had been diagnosed with lactose intolerance could handle raw milk without problems.

But opponents of raw milk, prime among them the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have always been adamant that there’s no difference between raw and pasteurized milk for individuals who are lactose intolerant.

Some new scientific evidence gives ammunition to the FDA’s viewpoint. In a just-completed study out of Stanford Medical School, Christopher Gardner, an associate professor of medicine, concludes, “The data fail to support our hypothesis that Raw Milk confers some benefit over Pasteurized Milk in the form of an improvement in the experience of symptoms of lactose intolerant adults.”

At the same time, though, the study raises important questions about just how widespread real lactose intolerance is, suggesting it may be far less prevalent than the FDA and other public health observers have long assumed.

As for the new study, conducted earlier this year, participants went through three eight-day phases during which they consumed pasteurized milk, raw milk, and soy milk. Gardner notes that “the severity of the symptoms was virtually identical for the raw vs. pasteurized milk, while the symptoms of the soy milk were quite a bit, and statistically significantly, lower.”

Ironically, the study was financed by a small group of raw milk advocates, including Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Company and members of the Weston A. Price Foundation. They are quick to point out the biggest red flag associated with the study: that it included only 16 people….”

Read it all on


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6 responses to “New study on lactose intolerance finds raw milk is not necessarily a solution

  1. thebovine

    One wonders whether the A1 A2 factor plays a role in what is commonly regarded as lactose intolerance.

  2. aed939

    Yes, what some misdiagnose as lactose intolerance is probably an allergic reaction to the A1 beta-casein protein or heat-damaged lactoferrin or other proteins. The solution for those is to get raw A2 milk. The solution for those who are truly highly lactose intolerant is to clabber the milk to convert the lactose to lactic acid or only eat/drink other cultured products. In a pinch, you could also try lactase supplement pills with the milk. Raw milk has some lactase, but apparently not enough to accommodate those highly and truly lactose intolerant in the study.

  3. first of all, I have no confidence in the integrity of this tiny ‘study’. The landscape is replete with instances of outright fraud committed by the largest corporations … paying for ‘studies’ to have outcomes they prefer
    second ; our experience PROVES just the opposite = I’d guess about 50 of our shareholders sought out our cowshare, after being formally diagnosed as ‘lactose intolerant’. They were very well aware of the discomfort … even very serious intestinal distress ocassioned by drinking “homo milk”, yet they got none of those reactions from whole fresh pure UNprocessed milk
    these scientists are the same people who will tell you ‘there’s no difference between the nutritional value of raw versus homo milk, even as they adulterate the commercial stuff with ersatz substances made from coal tar, mis-represented as ‘Vitamins’

    • Walter's Dad

      Hold on a sec… doesn’t the article say that this particular study was financed by Mark McAfee and the WAPF?

      If this is a situation where someone is, as you state “paying for ‘studies’ to have outcomes they prefer”, shouldn’t the results have been the exact opposite? After all, these are a couple of the most well-known raw milk advocates in the country.

      Or perhaps you consider Organic Pastures to be one of those large corporations involved in the global conspiracy to subvert your little dairy…?

      And FYI, anecdotal reports are not “proof” of anything. This study, although not “proof” either, presumably has been designed with scientific merit in mind (and hopefully will be published in a peer-reviewed journal). As Gumpert states at the end of the article, this “study is a welcome opening effort of interest to the growing numbers of consumers worried about possible health problems with pasteurized milk. Hopefully it will point the way to much additional exploration.”
      You should listen to him.

  4. latte_girl

    Mr. Watson,

    As a raw milk advocate, I plead with you to read an article in its entirety (maybe 2 or 3 times to absorb all the details) before commenting. You sometimes rant like a misguided hippie rather than the educated man I know you to be.

    This particular study was funded by raw milk producers, not big business. And the outcome has merit. Not the conclusion we wanted? Let’s not stoop to the levels of big pharma and bury the results: let’s learn from them.

    How many people are being misdiagnosed with lactose intolerance when their bodies are actually responding to another factor (i.e. the “cooked” proteins) in pasteurized milk? Just as you state, there are people who seem to be able to digest raw milk better than whole milk. By concluding that people with definitive lactose intolerance do not respond to raw milk, it begs the question “what digestive problem do the people who respond to raw milk have”?

    I hate “catch-all” diagnoses like lactose intolerance that prevent the patient from truly receiving the best care possible. Dairy is an important part of a balanced diet. Eliminating dairy completely (the easy remedy) when a healthier alternative (like raw milk and raw milk products) exists, is not the best care possible.

    By identifying a “new” medical condition, some Ph.D student could establish an academic career and in doing so, open the door for medical raw milk. If raw milk was deemed curative it would greatly benefit many members of your cow share, not to mention the dairy itself. Let’s be honest, raw milk is costly. Needing it for medical reasons would be especially frustrating. But if health insurance could subsidize raw milk (same than medical marijuana), those needing it would not have to bear the full cost. And it seems to me that most raw milk dairies struggle financially in order to provide their members with an affordable product. But if billing health insurance companies (rather than friends and neighbours), the dairies could charge a fair price for their products.

    You might be dismissing me as an optimist. Let me assure you, I’m fully grounded in reality. We could wave our signboards for 20 years and not get the same movement forward that a follow-up study could provide.

  5. Michael

    It is of no benefit to argue the validity of this study. I think it is great that there has been an attempt to look into the scientific validity of certain claims.
    Coming from my own experience of witnessing hundreds of poeple with severe health problems switching to raw milk and experiencing a drastic change to the better, gives me enough reason to continue encouraging poeple to try raw milk.
    I agree it does not help every one. Raw milk is not a magic bullet but a very useful dietary tool for many ailments.
    Remember any scientific study will create always controversy and may be receives far too much attention than it deserves.
    I also question the results considering the success we had in helping people with problems digesting pasteurized milk

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