Why are some mothers buying hazelwood or amber necklaces for their babies? It isn’t a new-fangled fashion statement. It’s actually old fashioned nonsense. These necklaces are being promoted as the answer to baby’s teething problems. Put the necklace on and baby sleeps better, doesn’t drool and there’s no whining from teething pain. What rationale is provided by the people selling these necklaces? Hazelwood, they say, has the medicinal property of neutralizing the body’s acidity. And what do the amber necklace promoters claim as a mechanism for the miraculous work of their product? It releases succinic acid! It increases acidity!
There are several layers of nonsense here. First of all, the body isn’t acidic or basic. That concept makes no sense. Body fluids such as blood, sweat or urine can be acidic or basic, but not the body itself. As far as blood goes, it has to be alkaline with a pH between 7 and 7.4. If it wanders outside this range, it’s a life threatening situation. While it may be possible to slightly alter blood pH by diet, it certainly isn’t possible to do so by wearing a necklace. But in any case why should an alteration in acidity have anything to do with teething pain? It doesn’t. But moms swear that when they put the hazelwood necklace on the baby, their behavior improves. Those who resort to amber necklaces claim the same thing. What we are looking at here is some wishful thinking. There’s more. Not only do these necklaces eliminate teething problems, they’re also great against diaper rash. Just look at the testimonials.
And it doesn’t stop with diaper rash. These magical pieces of jewelry can even treat excess stomach acid. Yup, the hazelwood necklace absorbs the excess acid. Sucks it right out of the stomach and through the skin. A truly amazing item. I wonder why physicians bother with proton pump inhibitors and antacids when a necklace solves the problem. And it does it without side effects of course. Needless to say, it performs its magic without any nasty chemicals. Migraines, arthritis and even acne are no match for the power of hazelwood or amber. But I suspect these amazing necklaces would meet their match in the form of a scientific study. It wouldn’t be hard to make replica “hazelwood” necklaces from some other wood or “amber” necklaces from plastic. Enlist a group of moms who just “know” that these items work, and have them use a “real” necklace for a week and then a “placebo” necklace for a week. Let’s see if they can tell which is which. I’be willing to eat the proverbial hat if they can. Or the necklace.
There is no science here, just some testimonials, the same as one might get for any intervention be it a hazelwood or amber necklace, or a suppository made from earwax collected by albino virgins from Ethiopian mountain goats by the light of the full moon. One more thing. Putting a necklace on a baby is not a totally benign activity. There is always a chance of swallowing a bead if the necklace comes apart, a remote chance of strangling and a not so remote chance of an allergic skin reaction. What makes people buy into such folly? It’s the packaging. The necklaces come wrapped in a mix of scientific illiteracy, simple credulity and wishful thinking.