Do amber teething necklaces work with voodoo?

amber teething necklaceI often find myself in mommy chat circles, debating whether or not the amber teething necklace actually works. Some moms claim that if you see results, it’s probably the placebo effect (i.e. your mind is playing tricks on you, crazy lady). Others swear by the amber beads and claim that it has done wonders for their teething toddlers. My hubstopher, on the other hand believes that it’s voodoo and that we should keep it as far away from our children as possible. My spreadsheet brain and I had to get to the bottom of this madness!

So, I did what any sane ‘spreadsheet brained’ person would do. I Googled, of corse! Some websites (usually the ones who are promoting the beads) say that amber is reputed to boost the immune system and assists with reducing inflammation and accelerating the healing of wounds, because it contains and releases succinic acid. Apparently it’s been used as a soother for teething babes for many years now. As per Wikipedia, amber has been used for its healing properties since the time of Hippocrates in Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages and up until the early twentieth century. Interesting.

The packaging of my string of amber beads says that amber is not actually a stone, it is fossilized tree resin from forests that were flooded by the sea millions of years ago.The packaging also says “we believe that the power to soothe pain attributed to amber lies in the fact that it creates an electromagnetic field which enhances the human frame of mind.” Hmmm… sounds a bit voodoo-esque, right?

Opposing websites, such as Science or Not, de-myths the amber beads story. The website goes into detail, breaking down the components that make up amber. In their explanation, researchers explain that your baby would need to be exposed to quite a large amount of succinic acid, over a long period of time, in order for it to take effect. In a nutshell, many doctors and scientists say that the idea behind a string of amber beads reducing teething symptoms is ridiculous and a chocking risk (even though the string is really short and the beads supposedly break easily – to avoid strangulation).

Surprisingly enough a lot of moms swear that amber beads gave their baby a bit of relief during the terrible teething woes. I was willing to try it (while monitoring my baby closely), to see if it worked.

I tested the beads to see if they would assist with relief from
– Constant drooling
– Rash on my babies face
– Pain and uncomfortable behavior

The result, after using it for 1 week
– The drooling seemed to ease up to the point where she did not have to wear a bib anymore. This was a big deal for me, since she had been drooling lots and I’ve constantly had to change her tops and bibs, to keep her dry. (Also, hello, bibs can totally like, ruin an outfit, darling!)

– The rash is still there and comes and goes. Not a fan. I honestly thought the rash was due to the drooling. Hmm, it seems I don’t know it all – but shh don’t tell my hubstopher.

– She still has moments of discomfort, which is the norm. I cant tell if the levels of teething pains have decreased though. Unless I’m about to break out in baby babble, which I’ve graduated from, many years ago.

In conclusion
Although 1 of the 3 symptoms eased up, I’m not about to put my name on an official document stating that the stuff actually works, yo. But yes, the drooling stopped soon after using the beads. And no, I did not detect any signs of voodoo whatsoever.

However, I must caution you to remove the beads from your sleeping baby and to monitor baby during “awake” times too. I don’t know, but having something around my babys neck gives me the jitters! And as one website asked: Is the (supposed) benefit of wearing these beads greater than the risk? That, Mommy, is a decision you will have to make for yourself.


  • Graham Coghill

    Thanks for the mention. I think the results of your experiment are easily explained by regression to the mean – that is, your child’s drooling eventually improved because that’s what naturally happens. Do you mind if I point out that strangulation and choking are different things. If the necklace breaks easily (to avoid strangulation), that makes choking – from the beads lodging in the airway and causing suffocation – more likely.

  • ChevsLife

    My son had an amber beads, I don’t know if it helped, all I know is that I really liked how the light reflected off the beads and suited his skin tone so beautifully. I think I may still have it somewhere lol.

  • mandy

    So well written, you manage to be so objective chae! I guess having a pharmacist as a sister who very sadly is aware of fatalities and near fatalities with these beads prompted me to read up a while back and the general consensus from the experts seemed to be that the risk outweighs the possible benefits…
    Could be wrong, I dunno

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