For millions of years, people have believed in the healing and metaphysical properties of amber. In fact, evidence shows that people were using amber during the Paleolithic period. Written evidenceof its benefits dates to 79 AD. Ingestible and distilled forms were used in the 17thand 18thcenturies to treat rheumatic and heart diseases; convulsions; neuropathic disorders; ulcers; coughs; aches and pains; and diseases of the lungs, kidneys and other internal organs.
For the parents of teething babies, amber teething necklaces can be a godsend. They are not meant to be gummed or chewed on like other remedies for teething discomfort such as clove oil, or frozen washcloths or biscuits. Instead, the amber is worn on the baby’s skin in the form of a necklace (or bracelet or anklet). Body heat warms the amber, which then releases natural oils containing succinic acid. The succinic acid is absorbed into the bloodstream, easing the baby’s pain.
What Exactly Is Amber?
Amber is a 44-million-year-old fossilized resin from the sap of ancient conifer trees. Found in the forests of the Baltic Sea region, well-known for its amber deposits, it’s also called “Baltic gold.” While other forms of amber exist, Baltic amber is best known for containing higher levels of succinic acid.
Raw, natural Baltic amber is found in a variety of colors ranging from white, yellow, brown, black, red, green and blue. The most common varieties are in the yellow to brown/orange range (blue and green amber is quite rare and highly valuable — too expensive for teething necklaces).
How Does Succinic Acid Work?
Baltic amber is especially valued for its healing properties, as it contains up to eight percent succinic acid —a common ingredient in many vitamin supplements, heart medicines and, particularly, in topical arthritis creams. Baltic amber is commonly found in traditional Chinese medicines as well as many European and Asian pharmacies. Succinic acid is
- Calming and soothing
In its natural state, amber’s pain-relieving and anti-anxiety properties can help anyone from teething babies to those suffering from
- Muscle and joint ache
- Fatigue and weariness
Is Succinic Acid Safe?
Keep this in mind: there are NO scientific studies showing how much succinic acid is released from amber or how much is needed to produce measurable pain relief. But because it’s added to ingestible products, succinic acid has been tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA), and they consider it to be safe because it “occurs widely as a natural constituent of the plants and animals which are commonly used for human food.”
Most amber teething necklaces should run in the $20 range. Look for amber that is raw and unpolished genuine Baltic amber. This ensures that the succinic acid oils are most easily released from the necklace and can enter your child’s bloodstream. Avoid polished amber, as the succinic acid can become sealed inside, making the amber prettier, but less bioavailable to the body.
As for color, look for white, milky yellow, butter-colored, lemon yellow, or green varieties. Darker golden-colored beads most likely have been heat-treatedto enhance their color, and as a result may be less effective. Some believe that the lighter the color, the more pain-relieving succinic acid it contains, but again, studies proving this assertion don’t exist. Just make sure it’s genuine Baltic amber.
A good length for an amber teething necklace is around 12.6 inches (32 centimeters). The fit shouldn’t be so tight as to be uncomfortable but not so loose that the baby may be inclined to bite, play with, or get tangled up in it. We also recommend getting one with a breakaway “pop clasp” safety release to prevent entanglement and double-knotted beads to prevent choking hazards.
How to Tell If Your Amber Is Genuine
It’s best to trust reliable sourceswith good reviews, but there are a couple of tests you can employ to see if you have genuine Baltic amber. Place the amber necklace near something hot. It should emit a piney scent from the release of oils. You also can rub the necklace against a piece of cloth, then see if it causes the cloth to generate enough static electricity to pick up paper.
When to Start Using an Amber Teething Necklace
Proponents recommend starting your baby on an amber teething necklace as young as two months old, in order to accustom him or her to wearing a necklace without biting or tugging at it. They can be used until teething stops, usually around three years of age, but you can let your toddler wear them longer just because they look so pretty!
How to Use an Amber Teething Necklace
Fasten the necklace around your baby’s neck so it sits against the skin (you may want to provide some momentary distraction so baby forgets the necklace is there), and leave it alone to do its work. For safety reasons, never allow your baby to wear an amber necklace while unsupervised. Take the necklace off for naps and bedtime. If baby insists on playing with the necklace, you can wrap it around his/her ankle instead and place a sock over it to prevent baby from fidgeting with it.
Care for Amber Teething Necklaces
Wash the necklace every month or so with gentle soap. Let it dry in the sun, and the heat will help the oils re-emerge. The necklace can be worn safely in the bath also, but its removal is recommended before entering a chlorinated pool, as the chlorine could damage the amber.
Without definitive studies, who knows if amber teething necklaces really work? Since they’re perfectly natural and time-tested, trying it certainly can’t hurt. If nothing more, they look gorgeous on your baby! Have you ever tried an amber necklace for adult or infant pain relief? Let us know your experience in the comments!