JB writes: “My grand-daughter is wearing an necklace made of amber crystals (maybe synthetic – who knows?). This is purported to be an old European cure for teething, and the fever/irritability that go along with same. My research says that the amber lies against the skin, soaks into the skin, and somehow alters body acidity. I feel this is a New Age amulet, but can’t really prove it. All reports on the Net say it works wonderfully.”
The premise behind the wearing of crystals is a belief that rocks absorb energies such as electrical, psychic, magnetic and nuclear. These energies can then be used to effect healing of any one of a variety of ailments.
As for amber stones in particular, they are believed to be a natural analgesic that one New Age enthusiast described as being “electromagnetically alive and therefore charged with a significant amount of organic energy. Its special attribute is the fact that it is electronegative. Wearing amber produces negative ionisation on the skin’s surface. This, in turn, has a positive influence on the human body. The negative ions assist in the in the prevention of illness. These health-promoting effects apply to babies, children and adults alike.” http://searchwarp.com/swa84799.htm
Other explanations are that the crystals act as a “bio-transmitter comparable to aromatherapy and homeopathy; that friction with cloth creates “static electricity” and “electro-negative” charges; that body warmth releases healing oils from the stones; chewing amber releases succinic acid.
As you might have guessed, none of the above has any scientific backing, except for the last statement that amber contains succinic acid. Succinic acid is indeed an anti-inflammatory from which “spirit of amber” was once distilled, but there is no evidence that wearing the stones around the neck can release succinic acid.
Amber teething necklaces may be popular in some European countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Germany where they are sold in pharmacies, but they cannot be sold in the U.S. as a medical device or even as a toy. According to the European Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products (RAPEX), a company known as Green Baby was forced to recall their entire inventory in 2007 after a “reported incident.”
Wearing an amber necklace because you believe an actual ingredient in the stone (rather than an energy force) may seep through the skin and facilitate healing or pain control would be different from wearing a stone as a kind of “good luck charm” or conduit of energy. The latter case would qualify as a superstition, while the former seems to be little more than a mother seeking for a more natural way to soothe her child’s teething pain.
I hope she finds one that works!