It Wasn’t Lactose Intolerance, But A1 Beta-Casein Intolerance

It Wasn’t Lactose Intolerance, But A1 Beta-Casein Intolerance

Ever since an illness back in 1993, I’ve had issues digesting milk. Not the normal issues people talk about that require a nearby bathroom, but these horrible headaches that would last two days. Pain relievers didn’t help these headaches, and they were incapacitating.

I eventually realized the headaches were triggered by milk and assumed it was some form of lactose intolerance. I mentioned my symptoms to my doctors, he shrugged it off without any tests or any answers. Instead I was told wasn’t possible to get headaches from drinking milk, so it wasn’t happening. I was getting the old I-don’t-know-what’s-up,-so-you-must-be-crazy trick. Yet every time I drain milk I got these headaches.

Back in the 1990’s — wow that is so long ago now! — I was able to take lactose enzymes and they would help. Eventually I had to move up from standard Lactaid pills to stronger health food enzyme pills. Eventually even those stopped working. By the early 2000s I was getting these headaches after eating hamburger, chicken soup, chicken skin, or other fatty foods. Once again, when I mentioned it to the doctor they shrugged and ignored me. I tried talking to a gastroenterologist, who scoped me from top and bottom and also shrugged and sent me on my way.

I stayed away from many foods, crossing my fingers whenever I risked milk, hoping lactose pills would work. I mean, come on, you gotta have your ice cream every once in a while. Interestingly, I found that I could use enzyme pills without getting sick with some companies products, but not with others. For example, Oberweis ice cream was guaranteed to take me to Pain Town, but I never had any issues with TCBY frozen yogurt.

A few years ago I saw an advertisement for something called A2 Milk. It was advertised as normal milk only from cows that naturally provided only beta-A2 casein protein. Apparently most cow herds are a mix of cows, some producing beta-A1 casein, some beta-A2 casein, though this has slowly been tilting toward more beta-A1 casein cows because they produce more milk per cow. The problem is beta-A2 casein is easier to digest for many people. If you have issues with milk it’s possible you can’t digest beta-A1 casein. With great hesitation, expecting to spend days incapacitated with a horrible headache, I bought and drank some A2 Milk without taking enzymes. Nothing. No reaction. I was fine. I tried the 0% Milk, 2% Milk, Whole Milk and no problems what so ever!

After a while I noticed my digestion was improving now that I was avoiding other milk products. I was able to eat hamburger, chicken skin, and chicken stock again without any headaches. In fact, I haven’t had any form of headache in over a year now!

Turns out when you make yogurt the bacteria helps breakdown casein. This explained why I could tolerate TCBY frozen yogurt, but not Oberweis ice cream.

I decided to wait a good year to make sure this was real and would keep working. All is good. I drink and cook with A2 Milk at home, plus I switched to Enzymedica – Digest Spectrum enzymes that break down casein when I consume casein A1 dairy. I’ve also used their dairy only formula, Enzymedica – Lacto which was made just for dairy, including casein. These help to a degree, but not always completely, so they are not a magic cure.

This new regimen has been working wonderfully. After decades of digestive issues and headaches from food I no longer have bouts of pain and discomfort unless I cheat on the diet too much. I’m eating foods I haven’t been able to consume in ages! I just wish the A2 Milk company would expand their product offerings. How about some whipping cream, ice cream, and cottage cheese? I ended up buying an ice cream maker and a bigger yogurt maker.


  1. david

    One question: You wrote that “By the early 2000s I was getting these headaches after eating hamburger, chicken soup, chicken skin, or other fatty foods.” Do you still get headache with these food? They should have nothing to do with casein though.

    • Al Bogdan

      Yes, after cutting A1 casein I could tolerate those foods again without the headaches. My guess is the digestive disruption caused by A1 casein was messing my system up enough that I couldn’t digest other foods as well.

  2. Krista

    I have similar headaches from milk as well as joint pain. On a trip to Portugal and Galicia Spain (walking the Camino), I was able to eat local cheese and milk with no issues, and after research learned about A1 and A2 dairy. Apparently there are many A2 producing cows in this region. I will incorporate the enzymes you mentioned in your article along with as much A2 milk as possible. Eggs also are a trigger food for me – the first identified before dairy. Are you aware of any correlation with eggs? Thank you!

    • Al Bogdan

      I don’t know of a direct connection between A1 casein intolerance and eggs. I personally never noticed issues eating eggs myself. It is possible you are allergic to eggs, in which case you’ll just need to avoid them. If you suspect an allergy definitely talk to your doctor.

      Of course, thinking about it, eggs are also typically eaten with dairy (and with fatty foods like ham or bacon.) Eggs may be cooked in butter. Omelets often have cheese. French toast and pancakes usually have milk. Butter on that toast. Thus, I guess it’s possible to almost never eat eggs without also having some A1 casein involved. If it were me, and I knew I could safely eat eggs, I would probably do a test by eating some poached eggs with a touch of salt to see if they are tolerated after totally giving up A1 dairy for a while. This is what I would do, but don’t take it as medical advice.

  3. Judy Simon

    I know I’m late to this party, and I imagine you know by now that goat and sheep dairy are also naturally A2 and I was thrilled to discover that buffalo mozza on my homemade pizza is also A2. My dairy headaches were dibilitating, you’re the only other person who I’ve heard say this. When I said to my doctor that I think I’m allergic to milk, she rolled her eyes and told me not to eat it then. Thanks doc.

    • Al

      Yes, I especially love me some Sheep cheese!

      Manchego is my favorite general use cheese. Pecorino Romano grated for pasta. We have the Meijer grocery chain near us that carries a soft Balkan sheep cheese that’s tangy. Sheep feta if I can find it. For pizza I often mix buffalo mozzo with some pecorino romano, though the Balkan cheese can do the trick in a pinch even with its tangy flavor.

      Thank you for commenting, as it’s a great addition to the duscussion!

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