What natural medications may help infant colic?

An article published in the journal Pediatrics … notes that there is some ‘encouraging’ evidence that fennel extract and some herbal teas could relieve colic symptoms, but researchers concluded that the studies so far have been weak and unconvincing. So what, if any, natural medicines could a parent consider?

According to the experts (doctors of pharmacology) at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD), there are only four substances that they would rate as “possibly effective” (see definition below) based upon very limited clinical evidence:

Fennel, German chamomile, and lemon balm (Possibly Effective)

One clinical trial shows that breast-fed infants with colic, who are given a specific multi-ingredient product containing fennel 164 mg, lemon balm 97 mg, and German chamomile 178 mg (Colimil) twice daily for a week, have reduced crying times compared to placebo.

LACTOBACILLUS (Possibly Effective)

Clinical research shows that giving a specific Lactobacillus reuteri product (Probiotic Drops, BioGaia AB) 100 million CFUs once daily for 21-28 days can significantly reduce daily crying time and fecal excretion of Escherichia coli, in breast-fed infants. Symptoms improved within one week of treatment.

In one study, taking this Lactobacillus reuteri product reduced colic symptoms more effectively than simethicone 60 mg daily over a period of 28 days.

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NMCD’s Definition of “POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE”:

This product has some clinical evidence supporting its use for a specific indication; however, the evidence is limited by quantity, quality, or contradictory findings. Products rated “Possibly Effective” might be beneficial, but do not have enough high-quality evidence to recommend for most people.

To achieve this Effectiveness Rating a product is supported by all of the following:

  • One or more randomized clinical trials or meta-analysis (level of evidence = A or B) or two or more population based or epidemiological studies (level of evidence = B).
  • Studies have a low to moderate risk of bias and moderate to high level of validity by meeting or partially meeting assessment criteria (quality rating A or B).
  • Evidence shows POSITIVE outcomes for a given indication without substantial valid evidence to the contrary. Some contrary evidence may exist; however, valid positive evidence outweighs contrary evidence.