Teething Tabs: Herbal Medicine or Deadly Poison

When our son was getting his first two teeth my wife tried everything to soothe his gums. Wash clothes wrapped around ice, teethers, her finger, frozen spoon — you name a non-medicinal remedy — she tried it. None of it worked for more than a second or two. Finally, in desperation she sent ME to the store. Why me? Because usually when she makes a list I can be trusted to hunt and gather and she was exhausted from being up ALL night with the baby.

The list said: Baby Orajel.

Well, they didn’t have BABY, just regular. In desperation I asked the pharmacist. HE handed me a box that said Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets. It also said things like
Natural Relief, NO artificial dyes, FAST acting. I thought to myself “Daddy Score”, even though my wife rolled her eyes at me and told me I should have just gotten the regular when I told her the pharmacist recommended it she used them.

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Hallelujah! It worked.

The next day when I got home to a well rested wife she was googling Belladonna. I thought “Oh crap she is going to try to kill me,” so I asked why she was searching poisons. She gave me the dreaded wife look and said “Because it is in the teething tabs you brought home for your son”. WHAT??? So we stopped using it and went with Baby Orajel naturals — 3 ingredients we couldn’t pronounce, but research said they were basically calcium, coffee and tea.

We also found out that in 2010 Hyland’s had recalled their teething tabs and revamped their manufacturing process for safety after the FDA tested the product.

Now, here we are 6 years later, and in that time there may have been 10 deaths and 400 “adverse events.” So I want to know 2 things. #1 Why in the world would you want to use belladonna in a children’s remedy? #2 What good is the FDA?

Well, as it turns out Belladonna is used a LOT in medicines.

Though widely regarded as unsafe, belladonna is used as a sedative, to stop
bronchial spasms in asthma and whooping cough, and as a cold and hay fever remedy.
It is also used for Parkinson’s disease, colic, motion sickness, and as a painkiller.

Belladonna is used in ointments that are applied to the skin for joint pain (rheumatism),
leg pain caused by a disc in the backbone pushing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica),
and nerve pain (neuralgia). Belladonna is also used in plasters
(medicine-filled gauze applied to the skin) for treating psychiatric disorders,
a behavior disorder called hyperkinesis, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis),
and bronchial asthma.

Rectally, belladonna is used in hemorrhoid suppositories.

How does it work?

Belladonna has chemicals that can block functions of the body’s nervous system.
Some of the bodily functions regulated by the nervous system include salivation,
sweating, pupil size, urination, digestive functions, and others.

So in some doses, it is okay. I think we’ll stick with the calcium, coffee and tea, though. The answer to question #2 remains unanswered and will probably stay that way.

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