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Colic

General characteristics

General characteristics

The term colic describes a painful spasm (a sudden involuntary muscle contraction) that occurs in the muscular walls of an organ or passageway often caused by an obstruction or trapped wind.

It occurs in the abdomen in infants and in the abdomen, kidney passages and bile ducts (due to the presence of stones) in adults. Here we will focus mainly on infant colic, the painful and often difficult to prevent condition affecting young babies. Occurrences of colic tend to cease when the baby is about 4 or 5 months but may continue on towards the first birthday. In babies the symptoms are furious sounding crying, especially after feeds and in the afternoons and evenings, arching of the back and kicking out of the legs and hardness and rigidity of the abdomen.

Many of the remedies used for infant colic can be used for colic in adults but the cause or reason for the colic should always be sought first.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Try to ensure that feeding times are relaxing and as stress free as possible.

Babies that are fed from the breast are said to be less prone to colic than bottlefed babies. However, watch your own food intake carefully as many foods are linked to colic in babies including members of the cabbage or brassica family, onions and garlic, dairy foods, caffeine, sugary foods and processed carbohydrates (white flour products).

Smaller more frequent feeds are thought to help reduce the likelihood of colic developing.

Try feeding with a goats milk formula as this is generally easier to digest. Goats milk is more similar in composition to breast milk.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

The most useful remedies are the aromatic seeds such as dill, fennel, caraway, aniseed that have a calming, anti-spasmodic effect on the digestive system. Make a strong cup for yourself using half a teaspoon each of crushed seeds or a whole teaspoon of one type of seed. Dill is particularly pleasant tasting and effective. Drink the tea half an hour or so before feeding and give a teaspoon of the tea to your baby before, after or during their feeds. It can be added to bottled milk also.
Catnep tea is also very effective. Make a cup using a teaspoon of dried herb and give a teaspoon to the baby whenever you suspect colic is present.
Chamomile and peppermint tea are very relaxing and soothing for colic. Drink yourself 3 times daily or give a teaspoon when needed to your baby.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Hold your baby close to you, with skin contact if possible whilst feeding and remain calm and relaxed. Gently stroking and talking/singing to the baby can help them relax and feed better.
Give your baby a few massages throughout the day to prevent the likelihood of colic. The following technique from La Leche League is well worth a try.
If you are breastfeeding try taking some acidophillus or other probiotic such as cider vinegar to boost pro-digestive bacteria levels. Dusting the nipples with powdered acidophillus before feeding can also work wonderfully.

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