Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals.  Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven.  Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Key to grades

A
Strong scientific evidence for this use
B
Good scientific evidence for this use
C
Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D
Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F
Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

Grading rationale

Evidence gradeCondition to which grade level applies
A

Allergies (prevention)

A whey formula has been studied for allergic skin symptoms in children receiving a diet containing very few foods. Whey protein formulas may help reduce the risk of cow's milk allergy, and may be more cost-effective when compared to standard formula for preventing allergies in infants. However, strong evidence is lacking for the use of whey protein formula for reducing skin allergies in infants up to three years of age. There is a lack of research on the effect of whey protein itself for reduced allergy risk in this population.
A

Nutrition (protein source)

Whey protein has been studied for maintaining skeletal muscle mass. Studies suggest that whey protein may benefit older people and women after exercise.In healthy young men, whey protein increased blood levels of essential amino acids and the creation of muscle protein. Whey protein is considered by experts to be an excellent source of protein.
B

Appetite suppressant

Whey protein has been studied for regulating appetite and body weight, and is considered an inexpensive source of protein. It may reduce short-term food intake and may also reduce risk factors for heart disease associated with obesity. These factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood sugar and insulin levels. Most studies suggest that whey protein increases feelings of fullness and reduces food intake. However, some results are conflicting, and more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
B

Diabetes

Many protein sources have been studied for their possible impact on blood sugar and insulin. Whey protein has been found to reduce blood sugar in both healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes. Further research is needed to determine potential interactions with medications and long-term effects of whey protein.
B

Muscle strength

Whey protein has been studied for promoting muscle growth and improving athletic performance. Taking whey protein after exercise may have benefits in both men and women, in terms of improving protein oxidation and blood levels of essential amino acids. Overall, short-term studies have suggested that whey protein increases muscle mass and strength. Some conflicting results have been found in terms of whey protein's effects on body composition. More research is needed to confirm these results over a longer period of time.
B

Weight loss

Whey protein has been studied for weight loss and the regulation of appetite. Studies have shown whey protein to be an inexpensive source of high-quality protein and that it may reduce short-term food intake. Overall results suggest that whey protein may promote better weight loss when compared to lower-protein diets, but results are unclear when whey protein is compared to other protein sources. Research is still needed to make firm conclusions in this area.
C

Acne

Limited study suggests that a product containing whey protein may improve symptoms of acne. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Allergies (treatment)

Limited research suggests that whey protein may benefit people with allergic skin symptoms. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Limited study has found that a product containing whey protein may benefit people with ALS, a disorder of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Bone density

Whey protein has been studied for the improvement of bone density. However, results are conflicting and more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
C

Bronchospasm (abnormal lung muscle contraction)

Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein may benefit people with bronchospasm. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Burns

Limited research suggests that a product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for people with burns, including increased survival. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Cancer

Limited research suggests that whey protein may have benefits for people with cancer. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Cerebral palsy

Early research has found that whey protein may benefit children who have cerebral palsy, a disorder of the brain and nervous system. Further study is needed in this area.
C

Chronic lung conditions

Whey protein has been shown to improve lung function in people with chronic lung conditions. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Constipation

Infant formula containing whey protein may benefit infants with constipation. Further study is needed.
C

Cystic fibrosis (mucus build-up in lungs)

Whey protein may have benefit in babies with cystic fibrosis. It may increase weight gain in people with cystic fibrosis. More research is needed in this area.
C

Dehydration

Milk protein, including whey, has been studied for improving fluid balance after exercise. Early research suggests that a whey protein drink may lack an effect on fluid levels after exercise when compared to a placebo drink. Further research is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.
C

Dental plaque

Based on limited study, a toothpaste product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for people with dental plaque. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Dialysis (a treatment for kidney dysfunction)

Based on limited study, a whey protein product may help improve phosphate levels in people undergoing dialysis. Further study is needed in this area.
C

Diarrhea

Whey protein may help prevent diarrhea caused by bacterial infection. A whey protein concentrate made from cow's milk has been found to be safe for use as a medical food in people with bacterial diarrhea. More research is needed in this area.
C

Eczema (skin inflammation and swelling)

Infant formula containing whey protein may have benefit in babies at risk for eczema. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Exercise performance (and recovery)

Whey protein has been studied for increasing exercise performance and promoting recovery. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Fatigue (in spinal injury)

A product containing whey protein may benefit people with fatigue due to spinal injury. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Gastrointestinal reflux disease (acid reflux)

A whey protein product has been studied in people with acid flux disease associated with nervous system impairment. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Growth

Milk has been suggested to have benefit for growth in children. Early research suggests that whey formula lacks an effect when compared to cow's milk and breast milk. Further research in this area is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.
C

Hearing loss

Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein may lack benefit in people with hearing loss. Further study is needed to confirm these findings.
C

Heart disease prevention

Whey protein has been studied for reducing risk factors associated with heart disease. It has been found to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, evidence is lacking for improved blood vessel function. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Immune function

Whey protein has been studied in critically ill children for the improvement of immune function. More research is needed before firm conclusions can be made on the use of whey protein for this purpose.
C

Infection

Early research in children suggests that whey protein may lack an effect on infection when compared to other treatments. Further research in this area is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.
C

Liver inflammation

Although not well studied in humans, early research suggests that whey protein may protect the liver and prevent liver inflammation. Further research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
C

Mental performance

A product containing whey product may improve mental performance and memory. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Mitochondrial diseases

Based on early study, whey protein may benefit people with mitochondrial diseases, which are caused by damage to the energy-producing parts of cells. Further study is needed.
C

Myoclonic disorders (sudden, uncontrolled muscle jerks)

Early research suggests that whey protein may lack an effect on myoclonic disorders. However, due to the lack of research in this area, further high-quality study is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.
C

Psoriasis (chronic skin redness and irritation)

Early study suggests that whey protein extract may help reduce symptoms of psoriasis. Further research on the effects of whey protein alone is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Stomach disorders (short gut syndrome)

A product containing whey protein may have benefit in people with short gut syndrome, in which nutrients are not properly absorbed due to a missing part of the small intestine. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
C

Stress

Whey protein may help reduce stress, according to early research in humans. Further study on whey protein is needed before conclusions can be made.
F

H. pylori infection

Whey protein has been studied for the treatment of H. pylori infection, which causes stomach symptoms such as nausea and bloating. Early studies suggest that it lacks an effect when used for this purpose. More research is needed.
F

High blood pressure

Although early studies suggested that whey protein may help reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, higher quality research suggests a lack of effect. More research is needed.

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Adrenal gland stimulation, aging, alertness, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitoxin, antiviral, asthma, blood vessel clots, breast feeding, cavities, colds/flu, diarrhea (HIV), fertility, food uses, heavy metal/lead toxicity, kidney stones, lactose intolerance, liver protection, low blood pressure (after meals in the elderly), mood, osteoporosis, pain relief, parasites, peritoneal dialysis (treatment for severe kidney disease), phenylketonuria (inability to break down amino acid phenylalanine), rickets (softening and weakening of bones), seizures, skin conditions, sleep, stroke, tuberculosis, vaccine adjunct (treatment used together with vaccine), weight gain, wound healing.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com