Colic

Colicky babies seem to be inconsolable but homeopathy can help by Dr Tim Robinson

Infantile colic is a common problem in babies, especially up to  around sixteen weeks of age. It is characterised by incessant crying,  often inconsolable, usually in the evenings and often through the night.  Having excluded underlying pathology, the standard advice given by GPs  and health visitors is winding technique, Infacol or Gripe Water. These  measures are often ineffective but for­tunately there are a number of  homeo­pathic medicines that may be effective. In my experience Colocynth  is the most successful; alternatives are Carbo Vegetablis, Chamomilla and Nux  vomica.

Why Colocynth?

Recently I have treated two cases of infantile colic in my surgery.  By coinci­dence they attended within a few days of each other. They both  responded rapidly and spectacularly to Colocynth.

Ruby

Baby Ruby was presented to me at nine weeks old. She had been bottle  fed from birth onwards. At four weeks she started to get colic; between  6­-9pm each evening she cried incessantly and inconsolably. She drew  her legs up and was difficult to wind. She woke every 1­2 hours  throughout the night, was difficult to feed and settle. At four weeks  she was given Infacol which made no difference to her colic and made her  gag each time she had it. I saw Ruby for her eight week check; by this  time she had been suf­fering with her colic for four weeks  con­tinuously. I prescribed Colocynth 30c three times daily before  feeds.

Sleep easy

I reviewed her one week later and was delighted to learn that Ruby  had slept every night since starting the Colocynth. The first night she  slept eight hours and subsequent nights five hours each. She was now  feeding and winding well. She was no longer drawing her legs up. I  advised her mother to slowly wean her off the Colocynth but restart it  in the same way if the colic returned. Ruby’s mother was so impressed;  she looked so much happier and fresher. The nicest thing she told me was  that she was now ‘enjoying’ Ruby so much more.

Amelia

The second case of infantile colic was young Amelia, also nine weeks  old. She was breast fed from birth. At two weeks of age, she started to  have colic. During the day she was unsettled, frequently cry­ing,  drawing her legs up to her chest. She would only settle if she was being  held. Each evening she would cry between 6pm and midnight. She needed  frequent feeds to be pacified and didn’t want to be put down. She woke  every night, at 1am, 3am and 5am. She would feed and fall off to sleep,  but then wake as soon as her mother attempted to put her in her cot and  so the cycle would continue.

I deliberated between Colocynth and Chamomilla. I decide against the  latter on the grounds that she did not have the angry, irritable  features characteristic of Chamomilla. As before I prescribed Colocynth  30c three times daily.

Dramatic change

I reviewed her one week later. Amelia was ‘a completely different  little girl’ according to Dad. Grand­mother also noticed a dramatic  change in her, having seen her before and since the treatment. She was  now settling after feeds, winding much more easily and hav­ing only  brief bursts of crying during the evening. According to Mum, dur­ing the  day she seemed ‘much happier and more contented in herself’. She now  lay willingly on the floor, needed very little comforting or holding.  Each evening she had fed frequently but was now able to be put down  without screaming. She was now sleeping for long stretches; on three  nights she had slept from 11pm to 6.30am. The difference in Amelia had  been noticed the day following the start of Colocynth and had continued  from then onwards. Having had six weeks of colic and crying on a daily  basis, Amelia’s mother had certainly noted the difference, as had all  the family! She her­self was familiar with homeopathic treat­ment (her  pregnancy nausea and heart­burn was more effectively treated with Nux  vomica than Gaviscon). She had already reduced the frequency of the  Colocynth to twice daily and had con­tinued to enjoy its benefits.

Reply to critics

I wanted to share these cases for a num­ber of reasons. They  reminded me of how helpful homeopathy can be in the GP setting for  conditions in which there is no conventional treatment or when conventional treatment has been unsuc­cessful.

Homeopathy critics would undoubt­edly say that infantile colic is a self  limiting condition and the babies got better for that reason. I don’t  deny that it is a self limiting but note that both of them, aged only  eight weeks old, had suffered from colic every day and night over the  previous 4­-6 weeks and had got better immediately upon taking the  medicine. I’m sure even the staunchest critic would find this difficult  to comprehend, explain and dismiss.

No placebo

It is clear that the immediate improve­ment couldn’t have been a  placebo response. The babies did not know that they were receiving  treatment with homeopathic medicine. At that age they are only just  distinguishing faces and making eye contact. They are not old enough to  visualise and comprehend the fact that they are having powdered remedies  on a teaspoon twice daily.

Equally I don’t believe that the mother’s behaviour, willing the  medicine to work was somehow being transmitted and received by the  babies.

If our critics really wanted to be convinced that the response wasn’t  placebo or natural resolution perhaps they should interview the mothers  to hear their story, they couldn’t help being convinced.

Dr Tim Robinson MBBS MRCGP DRCOG MFHom is a GP with a private homeopathic practice in Dorset