Natural Remedies for Colic

First and foremost, what is colic and how do you know if your baby has colic?  All babies cry.  So what is normal and what is not?

Colic typically presents itself within 2-3 weeks following birth.  Most commonly presents as a constantly irritable baby of unknown cause. More specifically, if your baby cries for 3 hours a day, for at least 3 days a week, for 3 consecutive weeks your baby most likely has colic. Some common symptoms of colic include:

  • intense crying episodes
  • inconsolable crying episodes with no apparent trigger
  • arching of back, clenching of fists, recoiling to touch, and other physical/postural changes

So what do you do?  Don’t fret there are a lot of natural remedies to try before having to go the medication route. One of the first things to do is to try and figure out the cause.  Some of the causes include:

  • Antibiotic Use during pregnancy, labor, or shortly after birth by mom and/or baby resulting in a gut issue.
  • Birth Trauma resulting in nerve interference.
  • Lactose Intolerance.  Studies show that cow’s milk protein found in milk based formulas or in the milk of dairy-consuming, breastfeeding, mothers, is by far the greatest cause of colic.
  • Immature digestive system
  • Allergy/sensitivity to certain foods the baby or mom is eating
  • A bad latch while breast feeding (La Leche League can help!)
  • Baby not getting enough sleep.

Once you have figured out the cause of the issue, colic is a lot easier to treat.  Still unsure?  Start by getting you on a good refridgerated adult probiotic and your child on an infant probiotic like this one (both of which we carry at the office).  Probiotics help build up you and your child’s digestive system by loading up the digestive tract with healthy bacteria to help digest their food better.  This is especially helpful for those mom’s or babies that had to take antibiotics during pregnancy, labor or shortly afterwards.  Next, look up the elimination diet, which on this website Dr. Sear’s helps mom’s figure out which foods they are eating are irritating their baby.  One of the most common causes of colic are sensitivities to certain food groups.  The most popular being dairy, soy, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. According to Dr. Linda Palmer, when looking at food sensitivities, “The chief source of colic in 67% of infants was found to be an intolerance to cow’s milk protein.  Additionally relief from colic was gained by additionally eliminating soy and corn (hydrolysate formula), increasing this figure to 84%.”

Another great recommendation is to allow the baby time to burp.  As you are getting the hang of having a newborn, especially first time mothers, it is common to not give the baby adequate time to burp, which will lead the baby to be gassy and irritable.  How often should you burp a colicky newborn? It is recommended with bottle deeding that parents try to burp their baby after every ounce.  Alternatively, with a breastfed baby attempt to burp after they come off the breast for a rest or when they complete draining the breast.

Herbal teas and colic mixtures are another natural way to help combat colic symptoms.  “Weleda” and “Holle” are great tea formulas that can be taken by the mother and baby once cooled through a bottle.  Fennel is also another great herbal option.  A study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that fennel seed oil eliminated colic in 65% of infants without side effects.

Another great option would be get your child to a chiropractor.  Chiropractic adjustments are a proven effective technique to help combat colic symptoms.  A lot of the time, colicky babies have a disturbance in their cervical and thoracic spine’s that can be alleviated easily by a chiropractic adjustment. According to one of the many studies found in the Journal of Manipulative Physio Therapy, parents typically see results within 3 treatments, which stabilize within four weeks.   Another study found out of 316 infants over a period of 2 weeks of treatment (usually 3 visits), 94% of the infants showed a successful rating when compared with the other group of babies.  The other group of babies medicated for treatment using Dimethicone drops, improved by only 38%.

Lastly, another great way to help combat the gas associated with colic is to get your child on his or her stomach will help to alleviate the discomfort your baby is feeling.  You can also hold your child across your forearm to offer some therapeutic relief for the child.  There are also some great massage technique’s to help relieve gas that is associated with colic which you can ask your chiropractor how to perform.

 

Additional Reading

 

 

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Pregnancy and Depression

According to The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology , 14-23% of pregnant women suffer from depression.  Women suffering from depression usually have the following symptoms that persist for 2 weeks or more:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

There are many treatments that are commonly used to treat depression during pregnancy, such as psychotherapy, light therapy, support groups, and medication.  Treatment with medication typically involved SSRI’s or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Lately, research has been coming out against medicating for depression during pregnancy because it has been linked to a lot of problems in newborns, such as physical malformations, heart problems, low birth weight, pulmonary hypertension, and an increase in the likelyhood to give birth to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This evidence scares me, so I wanted to present moms with a more natural option of treatment to go along with their support groups, light therapy, and psychotherapy.

So what typically causes depression anyway?  One of the recurring themes I have been reading in my research is that chronic inflammation is the culprit. According to studies found in JAMA (1) (2), “Higher levels of inflammation dramatically increase the risk of developing depression.  And the higher the levels of inflammatory marks, the worse the depression.”  In more detail, inflammatory cytokines (inflammation) increase the breakdown of serotonin, which means our impression should not be that depressed people are unable to make enough serotonin.  The problem with depression is that a chronic inflammatory state is associated with a loss of normal serotonin levels.  This means that one of the major natural treatments for depression would be to reduce chronic inflammation.

One way to reduce inflammation is encourage patients to exercise more.  Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as Zoloft.  Exercise naturally increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol (inflammatory) levels.  Another way to help reduce inflammation is adequate sleep, around 8 hours a night, which is essential in allowing your body the time to heal and rejuvenate for the next day.  Your body and mind will then have a better chance at handling the next day’s stressors more effectively.  Next, you can  reduce inflammation by consuming a diet of anti-inflammatory foods such as lots of dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, collared greens, broccoli, cabbage) and adding anti-inflammatory spices to your meals (turmeric, curcumin, cayenne pepper, ginger, oregano, curry, basil, coriander, cumin).  The more vegetables you add to your diet the better.  Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are also anti-inflammatory.  You can add teas to your diet as well (ginger, herbal rest tea or sleepy time tea, white tea, etc) Basically you want to stay away from processed foods with sugar or grains.  According to research, people that consumed a Mediterranean-type diet, rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory fats and proteins, enjoy significantly lower rates of depression.  Next, make sure you are taking your prenatal multivitamin, probiotics, magnesium (150 mg), fish oil (2 grams), and vitamin D3 (400o IUs).  All of these supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation.   Lastly, chiropractic adjustments are another added benefit.  Not only do the adjustments cause you to be in less pain, but it will also elevate your mood because you will feel better and be able to do more things that you like to do.

Resources and/or further reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Importance of Priobiotics

Probiotics are a type of “good” bacteria used by the body to aid in natural and healthy digestion.  Friendly bacteria are vital to proper development of the immune system, to protect against microorganisms that cause disease, and to maximize the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.  Due to unhealthier diets and the increased number of people on antibiotics and other medications, men and women’s natural flora (good bacteria) have been decreased leading to digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Probiotics have also been linked to strengthening the immune response and help reduce the severity of colds, flu’s, UTI’s, vaginal yeast infections, and certain skin infections such as eczema.  Did you know that 70% or more of our immune system function is in our gut?  Your stomach has 5-7 pounds of good bacteria which is constantly under attack by the foods we eat or the medications we take.  Another fun fact is that 90% of seratonin production is made in the gut which helps prevent anxiety and depression.

Probiotics can be found naturally in foods such as yogurts and kefir.  Kefir is a drinkable form of yogurt which contains beneficial yeast as well as probiotics, which when found together actually produce an enzyme called lactase (lactase is what helps break down lactose in the body).  Kefir also has been found to help cleanse the intestines and boost immune system function (www.kefir.net).

Probiotics may also be taken in supplemental form.  The most effective probiotics are found in the refrigerated section of your health food store.  It is recommended that when taking antibiotics and certain medications you should supplement with probiotics offering around 85 billion organisms per day.  If you are not taking any medications or antibiotics, I would recommend getting a good probiotic and following the bottle’s instructions.  Here at the Chiropractic Family Center, we sell a probiotic by Metagenics for adults, and soon we will also offer probiotics for your children and infants as well!  The infant probiotic is actually a liquid so it can be used right from birth for both breastfeeding mom’s and for formula feeding mom’s!  If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to ask!