Infant colic is a common condition affecting infants in the first few months of their lives. If your baby cries for more than three hours three times a week and otherwise is healthy, he might have this condition. Other symptoms can include a hard tummy, burping, kicking with or pulling his legs. There is no conventional drug recommended specifically for this condition, indicates University of Maryland Medical Center. If you consider using fennel or catnip for your baby’s colic, you should first talk to a doctor.
Fennel, medically known as Foeniculum vulgare, is an herb native to Europe and Asia that is used both as a culinary spice and medicinal herb, particularly for treating indigestion, to stimulate lactation and to increase menstrual flow. Fennel seed oil help manage infant colic, according to a study published in the July 2003 “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.” This randomized placebo-controlled trial involved 125 infants diagnosed with colic. The study showed significant improvement in symptoms of colic in babies who received fennel seed oil compared with the placebo group. There were no side effects reported.
Catnip, medically known as Napeta cataria, is an herb native to Europe that belongs to the mint family. It is used to add flavor to soups and stews and has been used in folk medicine to treat indigestion and colic and increase appetite. According to a study featured in the January 2009 “Journal of Ethnopharmacology,” catnip helps relax the muscles of the digestive tract and therefore relieves stomach cramps and has potential use in managing colic and diarrhea.
How To Use Fennel and Catnip
Fennel also can be used as a tea to help relax the digestive tract and eliminate excess gas that causes colic. One teaspoon of fennel seed tea after feeding can be given to the baby or the breastfeeding mother can consume one cup of fennel tea up to six times daily, indicates the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Catnip tea also might help to calm the baby and eliminate excess gas. Another option is to warm three to five drops of tincture of catnip oil in 2 tbsp. of olive oil and rub it on the baby’s abdomen, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Consult a qualified health care provider to learn more about how you can use fennel or catnip to help manage your baby’s colic. Some homeopathic remedies, probiotics and other herbs also might improve infant colic. Do not use fennel or catnip as a replacement for any conventional drugs recommended by the pediatrician.
- Univeristy of Maryland Medical Center: Infantile Colic
- Drugs.com: Fennel
- Drugs.com: Catnip
- “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine"; The Effect of Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) Seed oil Emulsion in Infantile Colic: a Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study; I. Alexandrovich et al; July, 2003
- "Journal of Ethnopharmacology"; Chemical Composition and Mechanisms Underlying the Spasmolytic and Bronchodilatory Properties of the Essential Oil of Nepeta Cataria L; A. H. Gilany et al; January, 2009.