Chinese Medicine for Little Ones
Yes, children benefit from Chinese medicine, too!
We love seeing little ones in our office, and many of them are happy to receive acupuncture. But don’t worry - for those who are scared of needles, we employ other techniques, such as acupressure, massage, tuning fork, essential oils, cupping, gua sha and herbs. We are often tickled to see children embrace the responsibility for their care - organizing and keeping track of their own essential oil usage and herbal intake. And what a great time to begin talking with them about what it means to take care of themselves and find balance and joy in life!
Chinese Medicine Pediatric Principles
1. We find treating babies, children and youth to be inspiring and illuminating because they typically improve very quickly. Young people embody yang energy - they have more heat and energy, they grow quickly, and their symptoms can change rapidly. This yang nature enables them to recover speedily, often in one or two treatments. Certain disorders will take a longer course of treatment, but you and your child should notice a change and improvement after the first one or two sessions.
At the same time, this abundance of yang can mean extra heat in your child’s body. Not all children run hot, but for those who do, treatment often involves clearing heat. Excess heat can also stir wind (symptoms that come and go or change rapidly, itching).
What We Treat: rashes, hives, allergies, fever, night terrors, hyperactivity, headaches, stiff neck and shoulders, teething and growing pains
2. This excess yang consequently equates to a deficiency of yin, the quiet, cooling, moistening, introspective, still aspect of life. By calming excess yang and nourishing deficient yin, we help your child find balance in health and life.
What We Treat: insomnia, rashes, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity
3. Babies and children have innately weak Spleen qi. In Chinese medicine, the Spleen plays a different role from that in Western medicine. The Spleen is the umbrella for the digestive system and includes the pancreas. We say the Spleen transforms and transports fluids, relating to the enzymes that begin the process of breaking down foods and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. It is the yin organ paired with the Stomach (yang). It takes awhile for children’s digestive systems to mature, and the typical Western diet often inadvertently contributes to this delay via the consumption of cold and raw foods, sugar and dairy.
The immune system begins in the gut in both Chinese and Western medicine. (We love seeing the innumerable times when these systems coincide!) A weak digestive system manifests with immune system as well as digestive issues.
The Spleen produces blood in Chinese medicine terms. If the Spleen is deficient, the blood may become deficient, which can cause physical as well as emotional symptoms. Issues of the blood can additionally impact hormones and menstruation.
Lastly, psychoemotionally, the Spleen is responsible for the intellect and cognition as well as one’s ability to contain emotions. Deficiency of the Spleen can manifest as getting caught up in circular thinking (going over and over things in one’s mind), worry (particularly about one’s family), and trouble feeling grounded or centered.
What We Treat: digestive upset, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, colds and flus, immune system weakness or hyperactivity, asthma, allergies, eczema, ear infections, headaches, insomnia, emotional upset, learning disabilities
What to Expect
A typical first treatment for a child is similar to one for an adult in that we go over your child’s health history and current symptoms, look at his or her tongue, take the pulse and sometimes do a little palpation. We then use acupuncture, acupressure, tuning fork or essential oils on several points on your child. If applicable, we will put together an herbal or essential oil formula for you to continue the treatment principles at home. We usually like to see kids 2-3 times, about a week apart, and then reassess.
We take things at a pace that is comfortable for you and your child. Scaring someone away from acupuncture is certainly not in our interest! Most children find acupuncture (or non-needle techniques) calming and enjoyable - they often love telling their friends and classmates about it!