Almost all babies go through a fussy period. When crying lasts for longer than about 3 hours a day and is not caused by a medical problem (such as a hernia or infection), it is called colic.

Prof. Ernst and colleagues evaluated nutritional supplements and other complementary and alternative medicines.

First, the details.

  • 15 studies in 944 infants met the inclusion criteria.
    • 13 studies were placebo controlled.
    • 8 were of good methodological quality.
    • None of these studies were without flaws.

And, the results.

  • A variety of treatments were studied: manipulation, herbal, glucose and sucrose preparations, probiotics, massage, and reflexology.
  • 11 studies indicated a significant result in favor of CAM.
    • Fennel extract
    • Herbal tea
    • Colimil (an herbal compound containing fennel, lemon balm, and chamomile).
  • Independent replications were missing for most treatments.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “The notion that any form of complementary and alternative medicine is effective for infantile colic currently is not supported from the evidence from the included randomized clinical trials. Additional replications are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.”

3/28/11 20:11 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.