Colicky Baby Remedy

Lavender aromatherapy massage may be beneficial to babies suffering from infantile colic

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Colic in babies is a disruptive problem without an easy solution, and can often drive new parents to the edge of sanity. Treating colic may be simpler than many parents may realize.

The cause for infantile colic remains unclear, though its effects can be difficult for any parent to deal with.

A new study has shown that aromatherapy massage with lavender essential oil can effectively reduce the symptoms of colic over a five week period.

"Ask your pediatrician about abdominal massage for your colicky baby."

The author of this study was Bengü Çetinkaya, PhD, RN, an assistant professor and researcher from the Department of Pediatric Nursing at the Pamukkale University’s Denizli School of Health in Denizli, Turkey.

Infantile colic is not well understood. Sometimes it can be linked to gastrointestinal causes, but other times it occurs independent of any GI symptoms. Colic is characterized by sustained crying that lasts longer than three hours, occurs more than three days a week, for more than three weeks.

Forty colicky babies, 17 boys and 23 girls, from the Denizli region were included in this study. They came from households with diverse economic backgrounds. All babies were between two and six weeks old. None of them were premature or underweight at birth, and all had good health other than the colic.

The babies were split into two groups of 20, a control group who would receive no treatment and an intervention or treatment group who would receive regular abdominal massage with lavender essential oil.

The primary measure for success was hours of sustained crying per week, which was reported by the parents and recorded by study nurses during weekly visits. At the beginning of the study both groups had roughly equal hours per week of crying at 13.3 hours per week.

The parents of treatment group babies were taught abdominal massage with lavender essential oil. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, they should always be diluted when used, and with babies, they should be diluted even more.

For this study, the parents of the treatment group babies received almond oil with lavender essential oil diluted into it, with 20 ml of oil per drop of essential oil.

The control group’s hours per week of crying stayed relatively the same throughout the study, but the treatment group’s crying began to decline after the first week. Each week, the treatment group’s crying times went down by a couple hours per week, and by the end of the study, they were only crying 6.25 hours per week.

There are several weaknesses to this study, due mostly to the fact that the treatment was not blinded and that babies are difficult to work with. In future studies, a similar massage method should be used for both control and treatment groups, with only the treatment group receiving oil with lavender essential oil in it. In this study it is difficult to tell whether the lavender or simply the massage was proving effective.

This was a clinical study, and it was published in the April issue of the International Journal of Nursing Practice. There were no reported conflicts of interest. The research was a joint effort between the Denizli School of Health and the Denizli Health Department.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 18, 2012
Last Updated:
October 30, 2012