Relief for parents of babies with colic

I have a several friends who recently had a new member join their family. Even with the complete change in sleep patterns, normal amounts of crying, tons of feeding and lots of diaper changing, things are going well for my friends. It's certain tougher for parents of a baby with colic.

Did you know that acupuncture can actually calm babies with colic? It’s true.  A new study shows that acupuncture twice a week for only 2 weeks can significantly help babies with colic.  Meaning babies who cry for more than 3 hours straight for at least 3 days a week.  A little sweet relief for their parents.

Here’s all the details.  Acupuncture for infants is different than adults in that the thinnest needles are used and needles are either immediately removed or only left in for up to 30 seconds.  The 147 babies in the study were between 2-8 weeks old and if they were sleeping during the session, rarely did they wake up. Of the 388 session that occurred, 200 times there wasn’t a peep from the little one and only 15 times did the little ones cry for more than a minute! In the second week of the study many of the acupuncture babies no longer meet the criteria of being colic. The difference in crying for the 2 acupuncture groups continued for 6 weeks after the acupuncture sessions too suggesting that acupuncture effects are lasting.

Acupuncture needles can bring peace to a baby with colic.

Acupuncture needles can bring peace to a baby with colic.

Dr. Erica Sibinga, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Integrative Medicine and associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says the study was rigorously designed and well conducted, “I believe this treatment sounds extremely promising for a difficult clinical problem,” she says, “and given the exemplary safety profile of the acupuncture treatments, I will be happy to recommend to patients.” 

It is important to remember that crying in babies is normal, and so the goal of the study was for the babies with colic to return to a normal amount of crying. So, if you know of any new parents who have a baby struggling with colic, let them know that acupuncture can help and recommend finding a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in pediatrics.  Most new parents are open to alternatives, especially when there are not many recommendations for colic other than eliminating cow’s milk from the child’s diet or mom’s if breast feeding, but that is a topic for another day.

Even if a new baby doesn’t have colic, it is also very important to remember that there are so many changes that occur when a new little one joins the family. Changes are physical, mental and emotional and there are changes with every relationship. If you or someone you know could use a little extra support during the postpartum period and beyond, please check out the Madison Postpartum Collective

Simple Remedies for the Common Cold

As we head into the winter months, is your immune system ready to take on the “common cold”? With over 200 types of viruses and some bacteria that are responsible for upper respiratory tract infections, the average adult gets hit with a cold two to four times a year. Kids have twice as much chance of getting sick.  And yet, most over the counter meds are not recommended for kids under 6 years old. So, what can you do to arm you and your kids’ immune systems to fight back? Acupuncture and herbs can help the body recover from illness in a timely manner and often help avoid antibiotics.  Here are a few tips and tools to have on hand this cold season that you can do at home bringing relief to you and your whole family.


1. Acupressure Massage – Chinese medical massage can be quite effective in pediatrics.  Symptoms change rapidly in kids, which means they don’t require strong treatment.  The following massage techniques can be done 3 times a day. 

2. Honey* with sage or thyme – 

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – well in this case, a spoonful of honey is the medicine. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and FDA do not recommend children under the age of 6 take over the counter cough and cold medicines because they pose a risk and don’t work. Instead 2012 study showed that taking 2 teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed can soothe sore throat and cough and allow the whole household to sleep better.


½ cup fresh or ¼ cup dried thyme or sage
8 ounces honey

Gently heat honey in a saucepan.  Add either the thyme or sage and stir for about 10 minutes. Transfer the honey to a canning jar, seal and put in a warm place for 2-3 weeks.  Then reheat the honey in a saucepan until it is liquid. Pour the honey through a fine mesh strainer into a clean jar.  If you store the honey in a cool, dark cabinet it will be good for at least a year.

* Children under the age of 1 should not have honey due to the risk of botulism.  Consider substituting maple syrup for the honey.


3. Ginger tea – If you’ve taken a chill, ginger is a great herb that will do more than just warm you from the inside out.  Ginger’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties will help combat viruses, shrink nasal swelling and will soothe a sore throat. In Chinese medicine, the heat of ginger will push the pathogen out.


1 inch of fresh ginger root or ½ teaspoon of dried ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ½ cup of water

Gently boil water and ginger in a covered saucepan for 15-20 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon juice. Sip and start to feel some relief for a sore throat or cough!


4. Humidifier / essential oils –Colds and flus tend to thrive in the low humidity of fall and winter months.  This is a time when the air is naturally drier compounded by central heat drying out the air even more. Since our nasal passages are the first line of defense against viruses, it is important to keep a good level of moisture in our mucous membranes. Using a humidifier is an easy way to ensure moisture level in the air at home.  Remember it is important to clean your humidifier with hydrogen peroxide every few days to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria and then adding that to the air you breathe!  Add a little aromatherapy with lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus.


5. Diet – What you eat is the foundation of your immune system. A diet with probiotics and fermented foods help your gut bacteria to have healthy balance of good bacteria which will support strong immune function. If you or your kids start to feel sick, decrease the amount of sugar and white flour foods that you consume.  These foods can slow down the immune system and make it harder for the body to deal with congestion. Often the number of respiratory track infections increase after Halloween as we head into the holidays also known as "candy season".  Sugar can be hard to avoid during this time of the year, but in my experience it is essential to set limits. 

Avoiding germs is not possible and will strengthen children's immune system.  By using the above tricks, you can help to relieve symptoms and help to kick the pathogen out faster.   If you have any questions please feel free to email me at, call 608-205-8596 

Resources: Healthy at Home by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, Kids Love Acupuncture, Chinese Pediatric Massage Therapy by Fan Ya-Li