Is Acupuncture Safe for Kids?
We are often asked ‘is acupuncture safe for kids?’ The answer is a resounding – yes! Chinese medicine is wonderful for all ages and stages of life, from newborns to the elderly. Chinese medicine is most well known for its’ use of acupuncture, but we also have several other treatment modalities that are used in conjunction with acupuncture. These include:
- Acupuncture or Acupressure
- TuiNa Massage (Pediatric Massage)
- Herbal Medicine
- Dietary Therapy
Acupuncture for Children
We may use acupuncture on children as young as one year old, however the technique is much different than it is when used in adults. The needles used are much smaller and we do not retain the needles for very long, if at all.
We accommodate children’s comfort by providing the treatment in a flexible setting. Sometimes babies and toddlers receive acupuncture while nursing or having a bottle. Often times parents will bring snacks or a book to occupy the child. For adolescents and young adults, the needles may be retained for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.
Some children have had previous stressful experiences with needles and we respect their desire for needle-less treatments. Frequently acupressure and TuiNa are used in this respect. Tui Nai is a type of Chinese massage therapy that we often use in pediatrics. It utilizes the meridians and acupuncture points on the body to address various complaints. This is a wonderful way to treat children, and is often a very enjoyable treatment for them to receive. This is also something that we teach the parents, and encourage them to do at home. Cupping is another needle-less therapy that is great for kids.
Digestion plays a fundamental role in the overall health of children. Children are not simply viewed as miniature adults in TCM, they are physically less developed and their organ systems are not yet fully matured. Because of this, their sensitive digestive systems are often impaired and dietary therapy plays a very important role in restoring balance to their delicate systems. Many pediatric diseases can be greatly improved or eliminated with dietary modifications.
Chinese Herbal Medicine & Children
Chinese Herbal Medicine is one of the oldest and most sophisticated herbal systems of the world, with an unbroken tradition going back to the 3rd century BC.
Throughout its history it has continually developed in response to changing clinical conditions and environments, and has been repeatedly modified based on new research into every aspect of its use. This process continues today with the development of modern medical diagnostic techniques and knowledge.
Chinese herbs are prescribed in individualized formulas based on a clear differential diagnosis that is made after a thorough intake and evaluation of the child. They typically consist of anywhere between five and fifteen herbs per formula. The herbs are often dispensed in easy to take liquid extracts, syrups, powders or pills. It is important to see a licensed herbalist who can perform a complete evaluation of the child and recommend the correct formula, as well as the appropriate dosage for this child. Herbal formulas are effective at treating acute conditions as well as preventing illness, especially when there is a history of chronic infections and antibiotic use.
What Do We Treat in Children?
Everything that adults use acupuncture and Chinese medicine for, children can as well. The most common things that we see children for are:
– Immune System Dysfunction – frequent colds, flues, earaches, infections
– Respiratory Problems – asthma, bronchitis, allergies
– Digestive Issues – colic, problems with latching when breastfeeding; diarrhea, constipation, stomach aches, thrush
– Dermatology – eczema, hives, psoriasis, frequent diaper rash
– Traumatic Birth
– Sports Injuries
– Stress & Anxiety
Because TCM is a holistic medicine, treating children focuses on balancing the Qi of the internal organs by taking into account both physical and emotional symptoms. Children are generally more susceptible to getting sick, but they are also quicker to heal and usually respond rapidly to treatment. For the most common pediatric complaints, the use of herbal medicine, dietary changes, and simple massage techniques can often completely correct the problem. The goal of all pediatric treatment is to restore balance and harmony to a child. If you are interested in learning more about the treatment of children with Chinese Medicine & acupuncture give our clinic a call.