After having my own success treating my colicky baby with Chinese herbal medicine, I was interested to see what success other practitioners have had with treating colic with acupuncture. A study published in PubMed concluded that minimal acupuncture treatment of infants (the insertion of only one tiny needle) significantly decreased the total duration of crying, colicky crying and fussing in infants receiving acupuncture, as compared to infants that did not receive this procedure.
The cause of colic is a mystery to many Western practitioners which can become very frustrating to suffering parents. In Chinese Medicine, we focus on the body as a whole and attribute most cases of colic to an immature digestive system. While in the womb, the fetus gets the majority of their nutrients from the umbilical cord and only toward the third trimester do they begin to ingest amniotic fluid, a source of sugar. When infants are born and they first begin to drink milk (or formula) their bodies need time to adjust. The newborn’s organs are very weak after birth, and will gain strength as the months go on. As the months progress, the digestive system will only continue to develop and change, but most babies’ digestive systems begin to normalize around six to eight months.
With an immature digestive system, the food that is ingested begins to stagnate in the stomach and intestines. According to Chinese medicine, stagnation creates pain and heat. This can be seen in the high pitched-loud cry, flailing of the limbs, red face and hot body temperature (perceived by touch – may not be a fever). The reasoning behind the timing of colic (usually between 5-7pm) can also be explained through Chinese Medicine. Each organ has a time where it is inherently strongest and weakest. The Large Intestine (essential in the digestive process) is strongest from 5-7am (when we are supposed to eat our first meal of the day) and therefore is weakest from 5-7pm. This biological weakness further exacerbates the weakness of the digestive system and causes an increase in food stagnation and heat.
With no Western “cure” for colic, many parents are now turning to a more natural approach to treat their infants. Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are viable options to help minimize colicky behavior.
If you would like to know more about how acupuncture and herbal medicine can help your child, please call our acupuncture clinic in Walnut Creek at 925-280-6026.
Also be sure to read my previous article: Natural Herbal Remedies for Children.