The bane of motherhood since motherhood began, especially for new mothers, has been the inconsolable crying baby.
How many mothers have had to deal with this heart-rending problem? Nothing seems to make a difference. The doctor assures you that the baby is not ill, but the crying continuex.
For years many “natural” doctors suspected something amiss intestinally since all examinations pointed to an abundance of gas.
Intestinal gas is caused by fiber, starch and some complex sugars that aren’t easily digested and pass through to the colon where they are fermented by bacteria, which produces hydrogen, methane and hydrogen sulfide gases.
Going on this assumption, for the last few years of my practice, I advised new mothers to give little tastes of a good quality yogurt as soon as possible to their newborn. It seemed to work since those babies never developed colic.
Now, finally come the studies about probiotics — the “friendly” bacteria, and yogurt contains many — to explain the reasons for those successes.
Let me explain.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, commonly found in yogurt, is the most important of the lacto bacteria in the digestive tract. It can survive in both acid and alkaline environments and has the potential to inhibit at least 26 different kinds of harmful pathogenic bacteria There are many types of bacterial organisms ever present all around us, even in the air we breathe.
When a baby is born, it is virtually sterile, externally, and internally as well until it is exposed to the air. All air, even the air in hospitals, contains microorganisms.
Whether born in a hospital or at home, the first time newborns open their mouths they take in these organisms. It is normal, it is expected, but which organisms are taken in during those first weeks makes a big difference.
Most airborne organisms are harmless, but if baby’s first ingested organisms into his sterile colon are these “putrefactive” bacteria, and if they multiply and literally take over the colon, they will use milk and generate colon gas.
It is this gas that creates the colicky baby.
Much of the food that follows — even for many months thereafter — will be accentuating the problem as long as the putrefactive bacteria dominate the colon.
As I mention above, prevention is the best course of action. I have always suggested that new mothers to use a good brand of natural yogurt. No flavors, just plain. Take just a small amount on the tip of a spoon and let the baby suck it off.
If this is done several times a day for a few weeks, this will establish good lactic acid bacteria in the baby’s intestines and discourage any further putrefactive bacteria from taking over.
Lactic acid bacteria (the good guys) use the milk sugar lactose and produce lactic acid. It is the lactic acid in the intestines that prevents other bad bacteria from flourishing. These are what we now call probiotics.
If a baby is already suffering from colic, can anything be done?
The answer is yes, but it requires time and a dedicated, persistent mother.
From my experience, it may take as long as several weeks to a month for the good bacteria to fully take over.
To ascertain if baby can tolerate it, you would start giving very small amounts of yogurt and gradually increase it to even several teaspoons at each meal. In actuality, the more you can get into the baby, the faster the bacterial balances will change.
In my opinion, it would be wise for child and adult to continue probiotics in the forms of yogurt, acidophilous or kefir indefinitely for good intestinal health.
Retired chiropractic doctor Francis Trapani’s background includes 41 years of practice plus doing investigative reporting and fitness programs for broadcast media in Hawaii. Now living in Walla Walla, he has written three books and is working on a yoga self-help manual. For more information, go to drftrapani.com.