If you’ve ever had a colicky baby, you know that everyone involved suffers. You’ve probably spent late nights googling everything about colic, from tips for soothing an infant’s gas to colic symptoms, and even foods to avoid while breastfeeding to reduce colic. You might have even come across the genius remedies German moms have for colic (and yes, they really help). It can be totally exhausting.
And if all of this sounds like you, well, you’re definitely not alone. One in five families experiences excessive crying during one or more of their children’s infancies. Crying for more than three hours per day on three or more days per week is a sign your baby is most likely suffering from gastrointestinal pain or discomfort.
But now there’s an alternative medicine option that you should consider for getting rid of colic, according to one medical journal: acupuncture.
Adults have long sought acupuncture for pain relief, digestive troubles, sleep problems and calming anxiety, among other issues. Researchers in Sweden found that infants can also benefit from the ancient Chinese medicine treatment which involves inserting very thin needles into specific points of the body to stimulate news, muscles and connective tissue and increate blood flow.
The study, published this month in Acupuncture in Medicine, involved nearly 150 babies ranging from 2 to 8 weeks of age, and all the babies had already been diagnosed with colic. To prevent excess fussiness, the babies were not allowed to have dairy milk for at least five days before the study.
Babies were separated into three groups; the first group received acupuncture at one location for 2-5 seconds without any stimulation, the second group received acupuncture at up to five locations for up to 30 seconds and mild stimulation, and the third group received no acupuncture.
Colic generally goes away on its own eventually, but over a two-week period, the babies who received acupuncture experienced a big drop in their crying jags, as recorded in daily diaries kept by the parents. And although some moms might worry that acupuncture would hurt their baby, the babies in the study tolerated the treatments remarkably well. Out of 388 sessions, the babies didn’t cry at all 200 times during the treatment, and cried less than a minute 157 times.
Researchers concluded that parents with colicky babies should keep journals to track their babies’ crying spells to determine whether it’s excessive. If it is, and if removing cow’s milk from their feeding doesn’t help to reduce the crying, acupuncture with a trusted practitioner may be a treatment to consider to resolve the colic so everyone can get a break.