Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amber (teething) necklaces-a review

There are two things that you probably already do know about me, but just in case you don't, I'll state them here, as they are relevant to my post:

I am a believer in Western Medicine. The most "alternative" I get in our healthcare is visiting the chiropractor. I don't do incense or acupuncture or aromatherapy or cleanses.

I tend to shy away from things that I feel are "new-agey." It's just not our thing.

So, that's why the fact that I'm about to make the following endorsements is such a big deal for me.

Matthew has had a horrible time with teething. It started when he was 4 months old. His gums were super swollen, and he was constantly miserable. At one point, one tooth poked through enough that it caused his gums to bleed, but then everything went back down. Sheila (Matthew's genetic mother) said her son, Seth, teethed the same way. He started at 4 months and nothing emerged until he was 7 months old. Matthew is a week shy of 7 months old and there's no emergence of teeth in sight. The swelling comes and goes. The teeth make a little progress, and then retreat.

But the poor guy was miserable. He was constantly in pain. He would put EVERYTHING in his mouth. He drooled all over everything. When it was bad, he would refuse to nurse. He didn't want to play. He had trouble sleeping. He would just whine and cry in pain, almost around the clock. We tried teethers--they helped some, but especially when he was so young, most teethers were too big for his mouth. He was also too young for any oral topical ointments, and teething tablets have been recalled. We tried frozen things, but often those were too cold for him. Sometimes he'd let me put some counter pressure on his gums but most of the time, he would wrestle away. I took to giving him baby acetaminophen (Tylenol), which helped tremendously.

The problem is, his teething has been prolonged, but he can't really safely take the medication for as long as he's been teething. Giving it to him around the clock for months on end is just not a solution that I felt was wise for him, nor is it recommended by medical professionals or the manufacturers of the medicine.

My happy little guy had disappeared, and in his place was a baby who whined or cried almost constantly. I was desperate to give him relief.

Some friends whose judgment I trust had said they had success in giving their little ones relief through the wearing of Amber Teething Necklaces, such as those offered by Inspired By Finn. Matthew was so miserable, I was willing to try just about anything, even if it fell outside my "box" of normal things I'd usually consider.

From their website, they advertise the following possible benefits of Amber:
Baltic amber is not a stone, but a fossilized tree resin.

Historically, Baltic Amber has been used in Europe as a natural and traditional remedy and curative for many ailments for centuries. Long ago it was considered one of the leading medicines of its time. Baltic Amber is the most esteemed amber in the world, and the healing qualities of Baltic Amber make it unlike any other type of amber found in the world.

When baltic amber is worn on the skin, the skin's warmth releases trace amounts of healing oils from the amber. These oils contain succinic acid and are absorbed into the skin.

Baltic Amber has some of the highest concentrations of Succinic Acid found in nature, and this is what makes it so special. Succinic Acid is a natural component of plant and animal tissues, and it's presence in the human body is beneficial in many ways...

The website goes on to list how Succinic Acid can possibly help with pain, inflammation, reflux, GI issues, immunity building, and energy. The concept of the body absorbing the oil sounded plausible enough, so I decided to try it.

I purchased this necklace for Matthew. It is believed that the more pale and opaque the amber, the higher the concentration of succinic acid. I thought that more=better for Matthew, and this was recommended widely as a popular option for teething so I gave it a try. They have a lot of other choices in all kinds of colors and degrees of opacity.

It arrived at about 4:00pm in the afternoon. I put it on Matthew immediately. It is important that your child only wear the necklace while he is awake and in view of an adult, so as to prevent strangulation. You want to select a necklace that is long enough to go comfortably around the neck, but short enough to prevent him from putting it in his mouth. It needs to have direct contact with the skin.

After wearing the necklace for 3 hours, Matthew was a different kid. I had my happy, smiley, laid-back baby boy back. He played and laughed and bounced. He was alert and social and happy. Bedtime that night was a breeze. The drool reduced substantially. I thought, "this couldn't possibly have worked this quickly! It must be a coincidence." I took it off him for bedtime. The next morning, we put it back on him. He's worn it every day since then, and he hasn't gone back to being crabby all of the time, which is how he had been since this whole teething journey began. And in the week and a half that he's had it, I think I've only had to give him Tylenol twice. He wears it almost around the clock and he's a pure delight to be around again. He coos, and giggles, and smiles. He's made absolutely no progress in the teething department so he SHOULD feel just as bad as he had for weeks prior. However, he's no longer whimpering in pain, and he has learned a ton of new things this week now that he can concentrate again on being my busy little bee instead of being in constant misery.

As I said, it's not safe to have him wear around his neck while he's asleep and/or out of my view, so I take it off for bedtime, naptime, and car-rides. However, I've taken to wrapping it twice around his ankle and putting it on under his 1 piece, footed pajamas (preventing any possibility of him taking it off) for bed time, and I also wrap his ankle with it while he is in his carseat because the harness prevents him from leaning over and reaching his feet. This enables him to be in contact with the amber during those additional hours, too, without posing a choking or strangulation hazard. They do sell anklets, and I do recommend that over my method because I've nearly lost our necklace a couple of times, as it's still too large to really stay on his ankle well and it falls off easily.

Matthew doesn't even notice it's there, so we haven't had any problems with him being annoyed by it. It's just there, as a sort of secret weapon.

I used to suffer from frequent headaches and migraines, usually caused by hormones and orthopedic issues in my neck. Regular trips to the chiropractor alleviated most of them and reduced their frequency from weekly (sometimes daily!) to very infrequently. They've been manageable for 5 years, and I was only getting them a few times per year. However, with the change in my hormones from pregnancy, the awkward posture and strain on my neck created by frequent nursing, the lack of sleep that comes from having a new baby, and the inability to see my chiropractor as often as I would like due to having to work around baby's schedule, my headaches have been coming back with much more frequency. As I am nursing, I try to limit how much medicine I take, especially if I've already given Matthew some of his own.

I was so impressed with the success I had seen in the amber giving Matthew some relief, that I decided to try one for me. I chose this one because it was the lightest, most opaque choice available in adult sizes. It happened to arrive today, while I was struggling with a headache.

I put it on about 3:00pm. It's now 10:00pm and I do feel different. I wouldn't say that I've noticed as significant a difference in myself as I noticed in Matthew's behavior, but that's hard to gauge because I'm not him and can't exactly know how he was feeling--I can just observe. I also am a full grown person so the amber is more diluted in me, and am capable of coping with my pain independently and he is it not, so I don't need as much calming down as he did. That being said, my headache is completely gone, and I did not take any medication. I did have a can of pop for the caffeine, but that is not usually enough to kick it on its own. But within 5 hours, the headache was gone, and I've had it all day. My neck and shoulders feel less tense. The release of tension is huge for me because usually, it just builds and builds until I give in and go to the chiropractor. I no longer feel like I'm teetering on the edge of full blown migraine-land, which is where I was before. Thankfully, my headaches are not constant like Matthew's teething is, so I won't be able to test it again until I have another headache, which hopefully will be a long time from now. I plan to wear it daily, even when I don't have a headache, in the hopes of preventing them or reducing their frequency. Since I'm not clairvoyant, if I never feel the headache, I will have no way of knowing it was warded off, so the best endorsement I can give today is the elimination of today's headache that I DO know existed. It's certainly better than napping, drinking soda, and/or taking a handful of pills!

I said that Matthew doesn't notice his necklace. He does notice mine, and tries to lean over and eat it :) It's pretty cute. Of course, I don't let him, but he is determined to get it one day.

Are you convinced yet? If you want to Amber a whirl for yourself or your little one, head on over to Inspired By Finn. Enter the discount code "Matthew" to save 25% off your entire purchase. I hope whatever you purchase brings as much relief to your family members as our necklaces have brought to us! If you decide to make a purchase, post a comment and let me know what you chose!

Disclaimer: I paid full price for Matthew's necklace. I received a discount on the purchase of my necklace in exchange for posting a review. I would have posted a negative review if I wasn't impressed--it was not stipulated that the review be positive.


  1. I'm so glad you've found something that works for both of you! Most Western medicine have their roots in folklore medicine, so I don't find it surprising that it works. Our modern medicines are more regulated for sure (herbs have different strengths depending on where and under what conditions they grow, but a pill always has the same concentration), but as long as there are no apparent harms in natural medicine - and I can't come up with any for amber necklaces - I see no harm in trying! :)

  2. This has me intrigued. I've been plagued with headaches for years and during pregnancy, I just have to deal with constant head pain. I wonder if the amber can be worn by a pregnant woman? I'd sure love some relief!

    I'm so glad Matthew is back to himself now :).

  3. Jen, thank you so much for posting this! This is one of the tidbits of knowledge that I can just file and think "someday, if I have a little one with this problem, I should remember this."

  4. Jacob wears one that we bought on Etsy. He wears it all the time. Love it!

  5. Thank you for posting this. I will file this away too in case there is a need. I am glad you and Matthew are feeling better!

  6. I'm so glad to know this for future reference! Thanks for posting!!

    It was nice to see you at church, too! I tried to find you afterwards but couldn't, so I will definitely hope to meet up again this Sunday - miss you guys!!

  7. Angie--it says on their site that some women wear them for pregnancy heartburn so I think you can!

    Diana-we were in the nursing room. Missed seeing you more!

  8. Jen,

    Thanks for your recommendation (and also for the discount code!). My husband has multiple health issues and I am hoping these will help his discomfort a little.

    By the way, just so I don't look like a creepy stalker-- I'm a fellow THI chum and have been reading your blog for a few months. I don't know if you'd remember me, as I was a couple of years behind you, but my husband James says he occasionally caught a ride with you from Biola to TO. :-)