Chinese medicine views the treatment of children to be extremely important. Pediatric acupuncture is viewed as one of Chinese medicine’s best specialties, practiced since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Acupuncture has been shown to be a highly effective holistic treatment for children. Most parents in the United States are not aware about this, even with its long and honored history in China. With time, it is hopeful that knowledge about acupuncture’s applicability to childhood illness will flourish to the American mainstream, just as acupuncture for treatment of adults has grown in recent years.
Children gain large benefits from preventative medicine and when it comes to their reaction to Chinese medicine, it's no different. Acupuncture is a safe and drug-free health care alternative for children of all ages. It has a great advantage for children due to its gentle, safe, drug-free and non-invasive nature, especially when compared to surgery and other allopathic techniques. It is holistic and curative as it addresses the deep underlying cause, rather than merely symptomatic or palliative.
There are several factors that can contribute to disease in any person and the same is true of children. Causes of disease can come from the outside such as a cold wind that invades the body leading to a cold or flu, or from internal causes such as emotional factors. Emotions are usually not a cause for illness in children, as they do not hold back from expressing their emotions. However, if children do go through emotional problems at home this can lead to illness and some examples of illness arising out of emotional disturbances are asthma, insomnia, and uro-genital disorders.
The digestive system is the pivot upon which children depend on. When treating children with acupuncture the most important system to treat is usually the digestive system. According to Chinese medicine the Spleen and Stomach meridians are primary for governing digestion, specifically transformation and transportation of food in the body. Interestingly, there is a classic Chinese saying is "xiao er pi bu zu" which translates as the "children’s spleen is often insufficient”.
It is so difficult for parents to watch their children suffer when sick,
yet so satisfying to watch children become stronger and heal
so quickly through acupuncture.
According to Chinese medical theory, this is especially true for children up to the age of six because there digestive system is still developing and thus become weak and overworked. Acupuncture treatment helps to strengthen the Spleen and Stomach energetics which naturally ameliorates presenting symptoms that may be impeding the health of the child.
Children's digestion is easily damaged by poor diets and an unnecessary use of antibiotics. When antibiotics are used they kill the "bad" bacteria which are possibly causing the illness. Antibiotics simultaneously kill the "good" bacteria (flora) found in the intestines. This "good" flora is necessary for a strong digestive system and a healthy immune system. Persistent antibiotic use can lead to children have poor digestive systems or a recurring illness.
Feeding children a proper balanced diet which consists of mainly cooked vegetables, grains, and fruit, and a minimal amount of raw fruits, fish, chicken, and meat is the best for their health. One of the key ways to treat all childhood illnesses is to work on changing the child's diet in this manner.
The long-term effects of acupuncture are to strengthen the Qi immunity of the child
to maintain health and wellness through accessing their inner healing resources.
Additional dietary problems that may cause illness are too little food, too much food, irregular feeding, unsuitable milk, early weaning, and food allergies. All of these factors contribute to illnesses, as the digestive system is inherently weak in children. Another important therapy for children is herbal medicine. Herbal medicine has been used for centuries in China and in the treatment of Children. Herbal medicine is used for a short period of time when treating acute conditions and longer when treating chronic diseases.
Parents, if they have never experienced acupuncture, are sometimes weary of bringing in their child to get acupuncture because of its association with needles. Regardless of the fear or not, children usually do not have a problem with needles – especially after they realized how painless it really is.
The initial consultation provides a time to discuss and naturally allay any fears around receiving acupuncture. It is a time dedicated for the acupuncturist to get to know the child and their parent(s) as well, learning about their birth, medical history, dietary habits, emotional predisposition and the like. Through asking questions and noticing the specific characteristics of the child according to Chinese medicine, a diagnosis and treatment plan is established and discussed with you and your child.
When working with children under the age of eight, the actual time of the acupuncture is quite brief. However, for children eight years of age and older, the needles can be retained for up to twenty minutes. The exact numbers of treatments that will be necessary vary depending on the severity and duration of the condition, as well as the strength and constitution of the child.
Common pediatric conditions for which Acupuncture is effective:
- Flu and colds
- AsthmaDigestive Disorders
- Stomach aches
- Abdominal pain
- Nutritional impairment
- LethargyConstitution Problems
- Learning disabilities, including ADHD
- Headaches with insomnia
- Failure to thrive