|Complementary and Alternative Care for Infantile
About one in five babies develop infantile colic; often it's the firstborn
male. Babies who have colic seem to always cry at about the same time each day
(three or more days a week), usually between two weeks and six months of age.
These crying episodes are characterized by unexplained prolonged periods of
crying (usually three hours or longer) and tightly fisted hands or excessively
kicking feet; babies who have colic usually have hard tummies and frequent gas,
and often spit up after feeding.
Most doctors believe that infantile colic can result from a number of things,
including a baby's immature nervous or digestive system; an over- or
under-stimulated baby; certain ingredients in the diet of the breastfeeding
mother; and certain antibiotics given at birth to either the baby or the mother.
If you suspect that your baby is suffering from infantile colic, see your
pediatrician to rule out other possible ailments and to receive your doctor's
recommendations for caring for yourself and your child if colic is diagnosed.
The following nutritional guidelines and herbal remedies can help to alleviate
or eliminate symptoms of colic. Be sure to talk with your physician to best
determine which herbal or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements
should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking
particular prescription medications.
- If you are breastfeeding, eliminate dairy products, caffeine, and
gas-producing foods such as citrus fruits, soy products, and spicy foods from
- If you are bottle-feeding, use a formula that is not based on cow's
milk. Also consider trying a hypoallergenic formula.
- Do not offer solid foods to your baby prior to six months of
- Consider acidophilus (especially Bifidus spp.) supplements to
improve stomach and intestinal function. Dose is 1 capsule with meals three
times per day for a breastfeeding mother; for infants, 1 capsule per day (break
capsule open and administer powder in divided doses throughout the
Herbs are generally available as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or
tablets), teas, or tinctures. Teas should be made with 1 teaspoon herb per cup
of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20
minutes for roots. Tinctures are preparations made from alcohol (or water and
alcohol), containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1
part herb to 10 parts solvent.
- A tea made from fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) or anise seed
(Pimpinella anisum) may be given directly to your infant (1 teaspoon
before and after feedings) or drunk by you if you are breastfeeding (1 cup three
to six times per day). Both fennel and anise relax the gastrointestinal tract
and help expel gas.
- Other herbs that have relaxing effects and may help to reduce colic
include lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), catnip (Nepeta cateria),
peppermint (Mentha piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and
linden flower (Tilia cordata). Any of these may be added to the above
- Clockwise abdominal herbal massage may help to relieve spasms and
expel gas. Use 3 to 5 drops of a catnip tincture in 1 to 2 teaspoons of almond
or olive oil.
- Add 3 to 4 drops of essential oil of lavender
(Lavandula angustifolia) or lemon balm to a warm bath to help
relax and soothe a colicky infant.
A colicky infant can cause parents a considerable amount of stress. If you
are feeling overwhelmed, be sure to talk to your doctor, join a support group,
or ask others for help.
Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs
& Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications;
|Review Date: October 2000|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or
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