HEALTH COLUMN: Acupuncture Treatment for Colic in Babies Part 2

Donegal acupuncturist Kim McMenamin gives his expert opinion


Acupuncture Treatment for Colic in Babies

Last week we discussed what colic was and how to recognise the signs of it and how it causes anxiety to parents who find it hard to cope with the inconsolable crying.

We also discussed how over feeding can be a factor.

Crying at Night
Colicky babies seem to wait until evening to start crying, why is this? TCM has the answer to this question.

During the daytime, babies and adults warm, defensive Qi (immune energy) circulates in the exterior or surface parts of the body. 

However, as the sun sets, this defensive energy retreats from the surface into the interior of the body.

During this retreat, this warm Qi (energy) comes to the stomach and intestines. If there is food stagnation in the stomach and intestines, this will hinder the free flow of Qi through those organs, and then deeper on into the body.

In other words, this defensive Qi backs up behind the food stagnation and causes more distension and fullness.

It is the baby’s experience of this discomfort that then causes all that crying.

The Two Types of Colic
Practitioners of TCM distinguish two different subtypes of infant colic: hot and cold.

In hot colic, the baby already has an innate tendency to run warm or hot based on their individual constitution. 

When the warm, defensive Qi backs up, this makes the baby hot or feverish, in addition to the stomach ache.

Babies with hot colic tend to be more restless and cry more forcefully and have a red face when they cry, warm hands and feet, and reddish finger and toenails.

Babies with cold colic have a weaker spleen and stomach, and therefore even less healthy digestion.

They lack the same amount of warm, yang Qi.

So when their defensive Qi becomes entangled with food stagnation, they experience stomach ache without any signs or symptoms of heat.

Thus the baby is listless, cries weakly, has a pale face when crying, and typically has cold hands and feet, with pale fingernails and toenails.

The TCM Diagnostic Approach
To diagnose colic, the TCM practitioner looks at the baby’s facial colour as well as the colour of his or her finger and toenails. 

The practitioner then feels the baby’s extremities, testing his body warmth. Next they palpate the baby’s abdomen.

Often this is distended and full.

Then the practitioner will look at the area between the baby’s two eyebrows.

The bluer this area is, the weaker the baby’s spleen-stomach.

This is followed by examining the palmar surface of the child’s index finger.If there is an engorged vein at the base of the index finger, this indicates food stagnation.

Given all this, the practitioner will then question the parents about how and what they are feeding their child as well as on the tendency of the baby to vomit back up milk they have just eaten or spit up any sour smelling, curd-like vomit.

If all this is positive, then the baby’s night-crying is due either to hot or cold colic.

How Chinese Medicine Treats Colic
Generally, the TCM practitioner will first adjust the baby’s diet. This means putting the child on a feeding schedule which is regular and/or taking the child off hard-to-digest foods.

The practitioner will also instruct the parents how to massage their baby’s abdomen in order to move the stagnant food down and out.

TCM is often very effective in reducing the severity of infant colic in as little as three to four weeks eliminating it altogether.

In my years of clinical practice, I have treated scores of babies with colic — with an almost 100 percent success rate.

Acupuncture for children does not involve retaining the needle for a lengthy period the way an adult would be treated.

When treating children the needle painlessly punctures the point without any bleeding and is immediately withdrawn thus the baby usually doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort.

The baby is always treated in the mother’s arms where he/she feels secure and safe and the treatment takes only a few minutes.

So, if your newborn is suffering from colic, try traditional acupuncture. After seeing the changes in your baby I feel confident you will be among those parents who were glad they did.

Kim- Dip.Ac. Lic.Ac. C.Ac. China MQP is a registered licensed practitioner of Chinese Medicine. Treatments are VHi, LAYA healthcare, Irish Life, St Pauls Garda Medical Aid Society, and HSF Healthplan approved.

E mail or write to the Natural Health Centre, Millfield, Buncrana, Tel. 074/9362606, From North 00353749362606 or to the The Traditional Chinese Medical Practice, 5 Academy Court, Oliver Plunkett Rd., Letterkenny, Tel. 0863981882, from North 00353863981882. Visit the website

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