01 Feb A Natural Solution for Teething Babies
Written by Dr. M. Ling, 1 February 2013
This week’s health tip is for those special little baby bundles in our lives. When teeth first come in around six months of age, this process also comes with pain, swollen gums and possibly a host of other issues like lack of appetite, upset stomach, excessive drooling and low-grade fevers.
Other than cold washcloths, iced pacifiers, wooden or iced teething rings, homeopathic herbal drops, or even baby Tylenol, what is another option to soothe babies during this frustrating time for both parents and baby?
Amber necklaces. These are not meant to be chewed, nor used as play things. They are usually 12 inches in length and fit comfortably around the neck sizes of most babies under 18 months. By simply wearing it around the neck under the clothes, the symptoms that typically accompany teething subside, as your baby is naturally soothed.
It comes in various colours from light yellow to darker shades similar to rich honey. The lighter colours are known to be more effective. So how does such an easy, do-nothing remedy work?
Amber is a resin that has been fossilized from prehistoric pine trees that date back to about 50 million years ago. Its Latin name is Succinum. When it is worn against the skin, the warmth of the skin releases its healing succinic oils, which then gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Succinic acid is known to have painkilling, anti-inflammatory properties and most synthetic, pharmaceutical pill-form painkillers contain succinic acid as one of their primary ingredients.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), amber has further uses. Of the 1,892 documented medicinal substances recognized in TCM that are all organized into 17 different categories – 1,173 from plants, 444 from insects and animals, and 274 minerals – amber (aka Hu Po in Chinese), falls within the category of herbs that “Calm the Mind and Spirit”.
With its additional properties to calm the mind, its benefits thus widen to include calming children and adults who are hyperactive, agitated, highly stressed, have unclear thinking, have schizophrenic, manic or bipolar tendencies, or are prone to seizures, anxiety attacks and insomnia. There are several skin, arthritis and thyroid disorders that amber can help with too.
Amber helps with so many seemingly different conditions because remember, TCM does not treat disease. TCM treats the whole person by identifying and treating patterns of disharmony. These patterns manifest in the mind-body-spirit as certain symptoms, which in turn get named specific diseases.
Teething symptoms and all the above-named conditions reflect a similar pattern of disharmony in which excessive ascendant yang – or overabundant fire – disturbs the heart. And the heart meridian travels to the mouth and gum tissues, thereby also involving the teeth and influencing the teething process for babies.
Amber has been used for centuries in Europe and millennia in Asia as a natural remedy to calm the mind and relieve pain in children and adults. It is now mostly found washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea in Russia, but is also located in Yunnan and Henan provinces in China.
As the healing properties and uses of amber are becoming well known in the West, fake amber made from plastics is also coming onto the market.
3 Ways to Identify True Amber
1. Heat test: Heated authentic amber produces a whitish smoke and smells like burning pine wood, which has a sweet, pleasant aroma. If you stick a heated needle into amber and smell definite pine-tree resins, then it is genuine.
2. Buoyancy test: Amber floats in seawater. This is why it washes up on the beaches of the Baltic Sea after a storm. Salt-saturated water (2.5 tablespoons per 1 cup water) reveals fake amber because imitations sink in salt water.
3. Static test: Amber is warm to the touch and when rubbed, it becomes electro-statically charged and attracts lint particles.
Since amber is a resin and melts in heat, do not wear it in the bath or shower. For the benefits of amber to work, the baby should wear the necklace as much as possible. Keeping it off more than it is on will not do much.
Babies understand far more than adults give them credit for. Communicate with your baby what the purpose of the necklace is – most babies get used to wearing the amber around their neck and may even cry for it to be put back on if it has been removed for a few days. For safety, the necklace may be wrapped double around the ankle at night. Parent supervision is suggested at all times.