Unfortunately, as with many things natural, they are often untested. As a result we can have a difficult time knowing dosages, limits and individual applications. Therefore, we see varying results. Some mothers say their Baltic amber jewellery works incredibly on their child for teething and other pain relief and others say it does nothing.
As a reseller of both genuine Baltic amber and Quebec hazelwood medical jewellery I have gathered quite a bit of data from my customers and also from the use on my own child. I have also witnessed how it works differently on adults. Here are some deductions on why we can see some variation and how to get amber working for your family.
Skin Type: First of all, there seems to be about 10 to 20 percent of people with a skin type that Baltic amber interacts only mildly with. So if you have that skin type or your child does, you will not notice any significant reduction of pain, drooling, chewing and calming that many of us have experienced with Baltic amber. If you are unsure if that is you, read on. Perhaps you just need to prepare the skin to receive the amber's benefits...
Skin Receptivity: Is your child's skin in the area of the amber cleaned properly to receive amber's benefits? It's a good idea to polish the amber with olive oil and then prepare the child's skin with a baking soda wash or by using apple cider vinegar (a mild acid or base will work), then apply some coconut oil and take a warm, damp cloth and gently massage around the skin. You will be surprised how much dirt and dead skin cells come off, even directly out of the bath. A build up of soaps and other residues can leave pores unable to allow in the natural oils from the amber. Make sure the amber is cleaned and polished regularly.
Amber Dose: There seems to be a specific amount of amber worn that works best to relieve teething symptoms. With my own child, a necklace alone wasn't quite enough. Once I added two anklets with the necklace, I had a happy child on my hands. When I removed all the amber, all her symptoms returned within 10 minutes. To test further, I put two necklaces on. She began to act annoyed and irritated until I removed this second necklace. So this told me there can also be too high of a 'dose'.
Amber Timing: The best time to start a child (or test a child) with genuine baltic amber is around age 3 months or at the first signs of chewing, drooling and other teething signs (fever, crying, agitation). Some parents find that when they use amber later on, the drool amount will not lessen very much and also the fussing has become a bit of a habit. So catching things before they set up too strongly also seems to be an important factor.
Amber Type: There has been a lot of speculation about colour, shape and finish of the amber and it's abilities. Colour seems to be irrelevant. It is a myth that lighter coloured amber works better. Raw amber seems to offer about 1 to 2 percent greater interaction with the skin compared to the polished. Flat or bean shaped beads compared with baroque or round shaped beads lends a larger surface area available to the skin, so can offer a little more assistance. Avoid amber chips as these can indent the childs' skin and have the least amount of surface content. Consider these factors when choosing amber for your child.
Amber for Adults: The metabolism of an adult versus a child differs greatly. For adults I find when they purchase an adult necklace from me (or add two child/baby necklaces together) feel tired when they wear amber during the day. It seems to be best for an adult to wear amber when sleeping only, in fact it can assist as a sleep aid, and not to wear it throughout the day. It may be creating a slight healing crisis or is too calming on the adult metabolism or gland network.
Amber Chemistry: Amber will absorb energy over time and be altered based on the chemistry of the skin it is interacting with. Therefore it is best not to buy used amber or transfer jewellery between different people or children. Some energy can be cleared by exposing amber to sunlight, similar to how one would cleanse gemstones, however amber is more resinous than many gemstones and therefore difficult to reset back to it's original, unworn chemistry.
Tooth Cutting: I found Baltic amber worked the best to alleviating pain and discomfort for movement underneath the gums: all that growing, pushing and inflammation (pre-dentition). When my child was actually cutting a tooth through the gum line I noticed her pain increasing so I would give her homeopathic chamomilla or aconitum or Hyland's Teething Tablets. Together with the amber, the homeopathic boost worked amazingly well and she went back to her playing. So amber can work in synergy with other natural products.
At Night or Daytime Only? I never removed amber from my child once it was on. I co-slept with my child so I watched her sleeping behaviour closely. Never once did her necklace or anklet cut off circulation or twist or cause any problem. A few times we lost an anklet, once on a hike (rodents love to eat amber by the way. A squirrel ran away with her first anklet!) and another time at the beach. Removing socks seems to be the culprit to watch for as they can roll off. People seem to have all these choking fears around a child wearing an amber necklace. However, this style of necklace is designed specifically for babies. If you are losing sleep over it, then take it off. I do not recommend putting a necklace around the ankle because THAT can tighten in an unbalanced way and cause an issue, much more of an issue than keeping it on the neck!
Applying The Amber: When you first put amber on a baby, make sure to distract them as you tuck it under their clothes. Double check that you have tightened the clasp well, sometimes it loosens off a little the first day or so. Once you re-tighten, it stays on well. As it warms to their skin, it is so light, they will forget all about it. If they notice it, just distract them again with something else. It soon becomes just an extension of them and they leave it be. Amber is NOT for chewing! It stays out of their mouth. Got it?
Amber with Hazelwood: For those 10 to 20 percent skin types, consider using hazelwood instead. The jewellery will wear out over time and need to be replaced, however there is a known analgesic in these beads, so pain killing properties are present. As well, hazelwood can be worn alongside baltic amber to help with not only teething pain, but digestive and bowel issues, skin rashes and growing pains. To get the most out of our hazelwood, I would put in on my child during the day if I felt she needed it and most of the time, remove it at bedtime. The benefits of hazelwood not only give pain relief but can balance out the liver enzyme system thus assisting with an over burdened liver. When the liver works better, so does the skin, bowels and digestion as a whole.
Losing Beads: Amber beads are handcrafted and fairly strong, however with wear, the chemical milieu will change and some beads can break off. This can be expected but doesn't always happen. If your child eats a piece, not to worry, it will slightly digest and be safely moved out through the bowels.
Make Sure It's Genuine! Your amber will not work if it's made from copal because it's not amber!! Here are three ways to test if you have the genuine or the fake amber:
The Rubbing Test: Take a soft cloth and rub it a lot – if it’s true amber it will become electrostatically charged enough to pick up small pieces of paper. Copal will not take on an electrostatic charge and may become sticky. (source)
The Alcohol Test: Both copal and plastic will deteriorate when they come into contact with a solvent. (source) “Plastics are quickly attacked by alcohol (95% ethyl alcohol), acetone (100%), and ether. A few drops of acetone ( non-natural fingernail polish remover) or alcohol dripped over the surface of the piece will reveal if it holds up to the solvent. If the surface becomes tacky, it’s not amber. Amber will not feel tacky or dissolve under these solvents.” (source)
The Saltwater Test Amber is a resin which is very light so it will float in salt water. To test your necklace, mix together a solution of 1 part salt to 2 parts warm water. (You could use 1/3 cup salt to 2/3 cup water.) Dissolve the salt completely and drop your necklace in the mixture. Any plastic or glass will sink, true Baltic amber and some types of copal will float. If you’re not sure whether your necklace is amber or copal, try the rubbing test.
So please consider these factors when thinking about genuine Baltic amber and how to use it for your family. Yummy Mummy Emporium sells only the highest quality Genuine Baltic Amber from Lithuania, strung by hand. Each bead is individually knotted and comes with a safety clasp so that the jewellery breaks away under strain. If you have any questions or feedback about using amber or hazelwood, feel free to ask!
Amandha D. Vollmer
This creative mompreneur herbalist