Sunday, 1 May 2011

Teething pain relief: it's all in your head.

Maybe it's a function of mothering a baby in the teething stages. Maybe it's a trend in parenting. Whatever the reason, I'm hearing more and more about bullshit teething remedies. And it KILLS ME!

I get wanting to avoid medicine. Hell, I won't take anything for a headache unless I start feeling nauseated from the pain. But you're talking about your BABY here. A tiny person incapable of making his or her own decisions, or dealing with a great deal of pain. So before I shoot my mouth off on Facebook and alienate someone, allow me to blow my stack here.

Amber and other bullshit materials teething necklaces:
First off, the idea that something millions of years old, repeated warmed and cooled by the earth and sun could harbour the magic perfect dose of 'natural pain reliever' for your baby - released and absorbed by the warmth of their of skin - is utterly absurd. Just take a step back, and think about it. Yes, I really do wish it worked. No, it really doesn't. There is absolutely NO scientific, empirical proof for these products. You'll find pages and pages of anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of these things, but REALLY? I suspect what you're seeing here is a combination of confirmation bias, parental expectation and that deep down desire we all have to be right about something. And the most reprehensible part? The necklaces must be replaced every 2 - 3 months, or when the symptoms re-appear. We all know teething takes place in cycles, right? Dudes, they are Taking Your Money!! For a real researched and footnoted article on this bullshit, click here.
Then there's hazelwood, which is supposed to neutralize the body's acidity - just about the dumbest thing I've heard today. Correct me if I'm wrong (seriously, there's a comments field down there for just such a purpose) but teething pain has to do with the inflammation and discomfort of a tooth bursting through gum tissue. Right? Where does acidity factor in? Also, neutralizing the acid of the body? Through a little piece of wood? Seriously? And people are BUYING this shit.
Now let's imagine for one moment that this isn't bullshit. It's trufax. The truest thing that ever was. How great an idea is it to allow an unmeasured, constant dose of anything course through your infant's veins? Nevermind the obvious strangulation and choking hazard a necklace on an infant presents.
If you want to put one of these on your baby because it looks cool and it's trendy - hey, whatever. But don't con yourself. Your child is in pain. Acetaminophen works for that. It's even scientifically proven. With empirical evidence and the whole thing.

Camilia, teething tabs, other homeopathic remedies:
If one more concerned mother approaches me in public again and tells me I need to try Camilia for my wailing, drooling son . . . well, I'll do what I always do. Smile politely and tell her 'in our household, we demand empirical proof before we accept anything. Anecdotal evidence is insufficient. I'll give him some acetaminophen just as soon as we get home.' Camilia is a homeopathic blend of belladonna, camomile, and iron phosphate. The important thing (as with all homeopathy) is the dilution. When it comes to camilia, it seems to me that you may as well be giving your child a dose of 1ml of bottled water. Again, there are scores of parents eager to insist they havent' been wasting their money, and proclaiming these remedies to work. Again, there is no evidence to prove its efficacy. In the case of camilia, I have to laugh at the dosing guidelines. 1 dose every 15 minutes to a maximum of 3 doses. I don't know about your baby, but mine will cry himself to sleep before 45 minutes have lapsed. Crying is hard work for an infant, and even if you're being cuddled, rocked, sang to, attended . . . pain will make you cry. This, of course, leads to confirmation bias - the baby is sleeping, therefore (s)he must be comfortable, therefore the remedy in question is responsible. It worked! Oh, I wish it did. I sincerely do.

The fact of the matter is, there is no miracle cure. Teething sucks. Plain and simple. It's painful. Rather than causing your child to suffer through it, get some acetaminophen. Do some research on distraction and pain management. Help your baby through it, and stop deluding yourself. If amber, hazelwood, etc remedies had any effect at all, there would be peer reviewed research studies on it. Your doctor would suggest it at your well-baby visits. You might even get a sample of it from your midwife or OB. Instead, you're hearing about it from other moms going through the desperation of teething, or the seller themself. And something about that just doesn't sit right.

14 comments:

Star said...

We should have bought shares in Tylenol. holy hell, Buddy had so much of it when he was tething. Cuppa will probably be the same :)

FnkyGreenMama said...

I hear you about the teething necklaces. Haven't heard of the wood stuff. Though I have to say, things get tricky when you've got kids that react to so many different ingredients. Tylenol has corn, which can be a allergen, in it, not sure what else. Our family doc actually advised against using Tylenol with Bug due to his sensitivities. It makes me wonder, though, what did they do for teething babies before Tylenol and Motrin?

Jamie said...

We loved motrin for our girls. Tylenol didn't seem as effective.
Hey, you forgot to point out that Belladonna is an incredibly dangerous sedative that can kill in very low doses, very quickly.
I would not use anything containing it for my child.
And to answer FnkyGreenMama: I once used an oil made with cloves when my wisdom teeth were impacted and hurting me very much (pain killers weren't cutting it). Cloves are an analgesic and it works like anbesol and orajel. I know people who remember their parents using it on their sibs 50-60 years ago. I have tried it, and it does help, just like teething gels do.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to Camilia they are literally selling you water.

The ingredients in Camilia are :

BELLADONNA 5CH, CHAMOMILLA VULGARIS 9CH, FERRUM PHOSPHORICUM 5CH

For those of you unfamiliar with what CH means let me explain briefly. Dr. Hahnemann created the centesimal or C scale, diluting a substance by a factor of 100 at each stage.

When you read 1C on a bottle that means that the original substance has been diluted equal to 1 part to 100 parts solvent. In the case of 2C that means that the 1 part to 100 parts solution is then diluted again 1 part to 100. That works out to 1 part to 10,000.

In the case of Camilia we see dilutions as high as 9CH. This means it has a dilution equal to 1 part to 10^18. That's a 1 with 18 zeroes after it or a quintillion for you math types. That is a ridiculous large number. Think about that 1 : 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. For a simple perspective on just how little that is the allowable concentration of Arsenic in US drinking water is 10^8. 9CH means that there is only 0.0000000000000000001% of the original substance in the solution. This is roughly equivalent to taking a pinch of Aspirin and dissolving it in the North Atlantic ocean and then drinking a drop of it and supposing that it would function to cure your headache. It is pure placebo.

In higher dilutions like you see in the case of "30X" homeopathic solutions from a chemistry standpoint none of the original substance exists in the dilution anymore as it's exceeded the molar limit. In the case of 30X imagine you had an Olympic sizes swimming pool and it was filled with a 30X solution. To have a 63% chance of consuming one molecule of the original substance you would need to drink 1% of the pool or about 25 tons of water.

Be wary of homeopathy. It's bunk of the highest order.

Stickyfingers said...

Star: We've already gone through 3 bottles with Boober.
FnkyGreenMama: A lot of them used exactly the remedies discussed above. Some probably gave the baby something to chew on and went about their day? I did read about one teething remedy that contained (I believe) 5mg/1ml of morphine . . . sadly, often had the side effect of permanently quieting baby's crying.
Jamie: I also prefer Ibuprofen for my kids, but it's not recommended for babies under a certain age - maybe 6 months? Since Boober isn't quite 5 months yet, he doesn't qualify.
And as for that giant, anonymous comment: Thanks for doing the math for me!

canadacole said...

Ok, don't shoot me, but Camilia worked for us. And I only ever went with the first dose (I had Baby Tylenol for a back-up just in case). Mostly distraction worked--our kids loved chewing on frozen washcloths or carrots. (You just have to be careful with the carrot, once they get a couple of teeth they may get some broken off and you don't want them to choke on it.)

Mostly for teething we just went through buckets of Penaten. My kids didn't seem too distressed by their mouths but holy hell did they get frightening diaper rashes when they were teething. I still shudder. We'd let them air out as much as possible.

Good luck!

Star said...

Oh I forgot the rashes... that was the WORST part for Buddy too. he didn't really fuss, and he didn't really drool... maybe at night I'd have to give him tylenol.

But the rashes.

no matter how much I creamed him, until that tooth popped, they just kept getting worse.

his daycare provider would be crying changing him because he was screaming while she cleaned him.

Anonymous said...

Love this! Totally tweeting this one!

Jenny, mom to vaccinated & securely attached baby Finn, 18 mos
www.meetup.com/cocoon
www.twitter.com/rengetsu13

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness. you are very obnoxious.

Stickyfingers said...

Thanks for your constructive input. Care to back any of these claims? Fight for their validity? Wheterh you feel I'm obnoxious or not - there's no evidence to back any of this bullshit.

Susan said...

In a moment of desperation I went and bought one of those amber necklace things, without actually doing the research first. It's damn cute, but doesn't work. I had one son who had 16 of his 20 baby teeth come through without us noticing, and then one son who is cutting tooth number 12 at the moment and he has let us know about every single one. Son number 2 has worn the necklace inconsistently for the last few months and I couldnt' tell you the difference between the days he's had it on and the days he hasn't. I think it works predominantly by placebo (as in the parents notice more good moments than bad) and by the baby being more like my first boy than the second.

Kaspars said...

It came in the post very quickly and shortly after putting it on my daughter was noticeably calmer! and I haven't needed to keep buying to other Daugherty! ;)
My with teething.
I bought son had an amber necklace from 4 months till he was just over two and we never had any problem one because I was living in Latvia at the time, and lots of kids there wore them, I had a least 5 people recommend one.
Best local internet store is Latvian Amber Store, they sell just authentic Baltic Amber.
There is link: http://www.latvianamberstore.com/#ecwid:category=2072066&mode=category&offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc

The amber needs to be warmed by the body heat to work (or so I was told) so if you want to remove them for sleeping make a little pouch in their blanket

back pain said...

I prefer to consult a professional first. Just want to make things sure.

jordanchandler1988 said...

Baltic amber works on the properties of an antiseptic, do your research its not recommended for children. Baltic amber dealer will advise you of this themselves, they sell alternative items called cherlery where your child can actually chew on these silicone necklaces. just save yourself the time money and headackes and us motrin/Tylenol whatever your doctor recommends, half these homo remidies are not even monitored buy a durg compliance organization, unless you do your research you have really no idea what your giving you little bundle of joy, just saying.