Are Amber Teething Necklaces Worthwhile?

What can you tell me about amber teething necklaces for babies? Are the health claims substantiated by any research?

– February 25, 2011

An amber teething necklace is designed to be worn around the neck or as a bracelet by teething children. Promoters claim that an amber teething necklace stimulates the thyroid gland (to control drooling) and improve the ability of the immune system to reduce inflammation in the ears, throat, stomach and respiratory system.

I’m unfamiliar with an amber teething necklace, so I checked with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, and an authority on botanical medicine. She told me that the use of these amber necklaces is not supported by modern science. She also noted she is not a huge fan of putting teething necklaces on infants due to the potential risk of choking any jewelry poses, including hazards from swallowing a bead if the necklace is broken.

She adds that when her own children were teething, she made a remedy from frozen chamomile tea. Preparation is simple: steep 2 teabags in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Take out the teabags, add 1/4 cup apple or grape juice and freeze the liquid in ice cube trays. Then put a couple of the ice cubes in a handkerchief, tie a big knot around them, and let the babies gnaw or suck on them.

Bear in mind that in many infants, the process of teething is painless or nearly so, causing only increased drooling and a desire to chew. However, some infants develop tender, swollen gums, may not sleep and eat well, and may run a low fever; that is, one under 100 degrees Fahrenheit. (A fever above 100 degrees or diarrhea suggests problems unrelated to teething.)

Other methods of soothing a teething baby include rubbing the child’s gums with a clean finger or letting the baby chew on a wet washcloth placed in the freezer for 30 minutes (wash after each use). You could also rub the baby’s gums with a cool spoon. Or try a rubber teething ring instead of an amber teething necklace – just be sure to take it out of the freezer before it gets so hard that it bruises the tender gums.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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