Every week I get together with a couple of other moms. It’s a great thing for us. We get out of the house, we get social time with adults, and our babies are close in age so we can compare notes and swap war stories with fellow victims of new-mommyhood.
This week the topic of teething came up. The Moose has 2 teeth now and the other two babies are about to cut their first ones soon. Both of the other moms said that they have been giving their babies teething tabs. Apparently these tablets are 100% natural and dissolve instantly under an infant’s tongue. One mom said they were homeopathic and they both swore by them. I know lots of times “homeopathic” is sometimes used instead of “naturopathic” (in fact my Firefox spell checker thinks that “naturopathic” is just a misspelling of “homeopathic” as it is underlining the word in red to tell me to fix it.) And naturopathic remedies may actually contain ingredients that work. So before going off half-cocked on a sleep deprived rant, I decided to do a little digging on these homeopathic teething miracle tabs.
First, for anyone needing a quick re-cap on homeopathy, Rebecca wrote a fantastic primer and I broke it down day by day during World Homeopathy Awareness Week. Checking out those links should clear up the difference between “all natural medicine” and “homeopathic medicine”.
The first thing I did was check out what’s in these things by going to the Hyland’s Homeopathic website. Here they list the ingredients as:
Calcarea Phosphorica 3X HPUS – supports dentition
Chamomilla 3X HPUS – for irritability
Coffea Cruda 3X HPUS – for wakefulness and diuresis
Belladonna 3X HPUS (0.0003% Alkaloids) – for redness and inflammation
In a base of Lactose (milk sugar) NF.
Yes, it contains belladonna (aka deadly nightshade), which is a toxic hallucinogen, and coffee. Awesome! What’s better than keeping your baby wide awake while he’s tripping? Oh wait… they added water and shook it which means it is no longer poisonous or caffeinated. Now it cures wakefulness and makes the walls seem especially un-melty.
If you’re still worried about poisoning your baby, first ease up – it’s natural and MaMa Nature makes sure nuthin’ kills nuthin’ else. Second, Hyland’s has some safety information on it’s products to ease your mind:
First and foremost, homeopathic medicines are regulated as drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as required in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The production of Hylandâ€™s homeopathic medicines occurs within a validated process, as with any FDA-regulated drug, to ensure an accepted level of consistency in product output.
There you have it! Totally 100% pure, good, safe and regulated to boot.
But to appease all you skeptics, I went ahead and looked up exactly how the FDA regulates homeopathic medicine and found this at RationalWiki :
The 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act established the rules for FDA regulation of drugs. Sen. Royal Copeland (who was a practicing homeopath) wrote in a specific clause that said homeopathy was a drug and would be regulated by the FDA as such, but with many exceptions. Homeopaths do not have to apply for a new drug patent from the FDA for new solutions nor do they have to provide any information about its efficacy or safety. They do not have to test this at all. The only regulation the FDA has over homeopathy is to make sure the manufacturing produces a safe product (no arsenic leaking into the bottles on the production plant floor).
Okay so yes they are “regulated” but not in the sense of the word where they have to worry about pesky details like testing for product safety or backing up their claims with things like “proof”.
So even if the probability is that you’re really just giving your kid a lactose pill, the fact that the production of belladonna itself is completely unregulated means the potency of the plant can vary and there is a possibility your baby could be getting some bad shit.
Now granted, a 3X dilution is a “low dose” in both the homeopathic and the regular-real-medicine sense. It means that the solution is diluted to 1 part per thousand. The probability of getting anything other than lactose in the pill is pretty slim. The odds are about one in a thousand (quick math). But it’s still not low enough for me to be comfortable giving poison to my kid (even after a really rough day with a teething baby).
It’s also worth mentioning that, while certainly not as dangerous as belladonna, lactose pills are not on the super-safe-to-give-to-babies list either. So even if that’s “all” your baby is getting, keep in mind that feeding a child a lactose pill increases risk for future milk allergies and, according to the NIH, the reason they don’t do lactose intolerance testing on babies is because “a large lactose load can be dangerous… as infants are more likely to become dehydrated from diarrhea that can be caused by lactose intolerance.”
So even if the remedy is diluted enough that you’re not giving your baby the brown acid or keeping her up all night with a dissolving espresso pill, there’s still a decent risk that she could get quite ill.
How about we try to stick with ibuprofen, acetaminophen and something cold to chomp on?
Oh, and no whiskey on the gums either, folks. If you feel you must use it, just buy the good stuff and use it on mom and dad to help deal with teething. (My husband swears by Highland Park 30 yr scotch.)