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Latest Edit: Hector 2013-12-05 (EDT)

Colic is a form of abdominal pain that starts and stops abruptly, typically due to digestive issues and is fairly common in infants. It commonly begins in the first few weeks to four months of life. It is characterized by fits of crying, apparent abdominal pain, and irritability. Approximately 25 percent of babies worldwide meet the official "Rule of Threes" criteria for medical diagnosis of colic.

Causes Dietary Factors, Over feeding, Stress.
See Also Pediatric Conditions, Digestive Conditions
Books Books on Pediatric Conditions
Articles Articles on Pediatric Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With Colic, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to Colic.


  • Foods in the mother's diet may aggravate the baby and cause colic.[1]
  • It takes a number of months for a baby's immune system to develop. Foods such as dairy, wheat and nuts are best avoided, both for a nursing mother and for an infant, until at least 9 months of age. For further guidance follow the Food Introduction Schedule.
  • A mother that is breastfeeding should avoid caffeine containing drinks, alcohol and spicy foods as it can trigger colic.
  • Feeding practices, which include swallowing of air, excessive feeding and underfeeding have been associated with colic.[2]


  • Socio-economic
  • Higher socioecnomic status families, babies born to older parents, families with fewer children, and a higher educational level obtained by mothers are all associated with increased risk of colic.[3]
  • There is an association between increased occurrence of colic and increased stress and anxiety in a breast-feeding mother.[2]


  • Location
  • Residence in developed nations and/or locations farther away from the equator have been associated with increased risk of infantile colic.[2]


  • Women who smoke during pregnancy increase their risk of having a baby who develops colic. [4]

Medical Interventions


  • Birth Order
  • First-born children tend to have colic for frequently.

Common Questions

  • What are your baby's bowel habits like?
  • What is the mother's diet like?
  • Could there be something passing through the breast milk and irritating the baby?
  • Does your baby ever vomit up their milk?
  • Have the symptoms changed?
  • Is your baby meeting his/her growth milestones?

Diagnostic Testing

Infants are unable to describe what they are feeling so colic is typically diagnosed if criteria from the "Rule of Threes" is met. Other more serious conditions must be ruled out first.

  • Rule of Threes: Crying that lasts for at least three hours a day, for more than three days a week, and for at least three weeks at a time.[5]
  • Crying most commonly occurs in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Babies are otherwise healthy and well-fed.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Other symptoms and conditions associated with colic include:

  • Motility disorders and altered intestinal microflora are risk factors for infantile colic[3]


The symptoms associated with colic include:

  • Hard, distended stomach
  • Gas and/or bloating
  • Baby may have knees pulled into chest with flailing extremities and arched back
  • Vigorous crying with irritability and fussiness
  • Abrupt onset of symptoms that begin around the same time each day or night, such as after meals
  • Sleeplessness

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Colic is typically an acute condition that does not persist past 6 months.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies that can reduce the intensity and duration of colic include:

  • Sit baby upright during feeding
  • Burp baby after feeding
  • Hold baby during crying episodes
  • Give baby a warm bath to soothe him/her


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Dietary recommendations
  • Remove dairy from diet and monitor for symptom improvement. The baby may have an intolerance for proteins found in dairy.[6]
  • Avoid caffeine containing drinks, spicy foods and alcohol.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.

Naturopathic Therapies

Article Colic Improves with Acupuncture, 2011 September Natural Medicine [1]

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies. Colic typically resolves on its own over time.

Naturopathic Therapies for Colic include:


  1. Kensburg, K.V. (2010)Vitamin supplements for toddlers.Professional Nursing Today; 14(4)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Infantile Colic; Overview and Risk Factors, Retrieved January 11, 2013 from
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colic, Retrieved on January 11, 2013, from
  4. Reijneveld, S.A., Brugman, E., and Hirasing, R.A. (2000) Infantile colic; Maternal smoking as a potential risk factor.Archives of Disease in Childhood; 83: 302-303.
  5. Roberts DM, Ostapchuk M, O'Brien JG (2004 Aug) Infantile colic Am Fam Physician; Vol70(4):735-40 PMID: 15338787.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rogovik AL, Goldman RD (2005 Sep) Treating infants' colic Can Fam Physician; Vol51:1209-11 PMID: 16190173.
  7. Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press.
  8. Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  9. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing