What is Pediatric Acupuncture?
Chinese Medicine has been treating childhood ailments for centuries, and pediatric acupuncture in the West is becoming an increasingly common in treating colic, earaches, digestive issues, ADHD, and many other frequent pediatric health concerns. Acupuncture for children provides a safe treatment alternative to invasive medical interventions or pharmaceuticals, and is effective in naturally and gently reestablishing and maintaining children’s health. Children benefit largely to preventative medicine, and react quickly and positively to Traditional Chinese therapies.
Shonishin is a Japanese form of acupuncture that was specifically designed in the 1700’s to treat childhood illnesses. Over the years it has been refined by Japanese masters and has become an integral part of pediatric treatment in Japan. Shonishin was based on theories from Chinese medical texts and is still considered to be an essential part of pediatric acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Shonishin acupuncture, acupressure, and Chinese herbal remedies may be used individually or in combination to treat a number of acute and chronic childhood illnesses such as:
- Ear aches: Earache may indicate an ear infection, which is more common in children as the Eustachian tube is much shorter and is more likely to get clogged by un-drained fluid. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by the age of three, with ear infection remaining one of the most common reasons parents bring their child to the doctor. Antibiotics, most commonly prescribed to children for ear infection, do virtually nothing for most infections, do not speed up recovery, and potentially increase the risk of side effects. While only half of ear infections are caused by viruses, and there is no way to determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial, antibiotics are only needed to treat one in eight children with ear infections. The rest will recover on their own, and the healing process can be helped using natural remedies.
- Headaches:Headaches in children are associated with mild to severe head pain, often in conjunction with systems such as nausea, pressure, and muscle tension causing discomfort. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, headaches may be caused by a wide range of factors, including sleep, digestion, and regulation of emotion and stress. These various factors cause patterns of disharmony, and it is only when these patterns are identified and addressed that underlying health issues become resolved and the resulting complications, such as headaches, are alleviated.
- Fevers:Fever is defined as rectal/ear/temporal artery temperature above 38.0° C, and occurs when the body’s temperature is elevated as a result of changes in the body. Nearly every child will develop a fever at some point, with fever being a normal response to conditions such as infection, disease, or extreme (also emotional) conditions for the child. Children and infants are susceptible to fevers because of small size and immature immune systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine views fever as an expression of heat in response to external conditions, and through use of herbal medicines and acupuncture works to dispel the excess heat.
- Allergies: Allergies in children are defined as a damaging immune response by the body to a substance (commonly pollen, fur, food, dust) to which it has become hypersensitive. Traditional Chinese Medicine treats allergies gently and naturally.
- Asthma:One of the most common childhood issues is asthma. The symptoms of asthma vary in degree and from person to person. Although the disease can occur in children of all ages, it most commonly develops before the age of five. Symptoms may include wheezing, chronic cough, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. These symptoms of course can be very scary and debilitating for children. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine are a non-invasive and effective treatment option. The treatment options with western medicine do include short term and long term relief, including the use of inhalers and anti-inflammatory or bronchodilators.
- Digestive problems/ Diarrhea: The digestive system is intrinsically the root of all wellness, as it is intimately connected with our immune systems and affects our ability to absorb the necessary nutrients vital to our health. Digestive disorders can vary in scale, ranging from the occasional minor upset stomach to major gastrointestinal problems. Through acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the root of digestive disorder can be treated gently and naturally by stimulating specific acupuncture points, herbal therapy, and supplementation.
- Colic: Colic in babies is defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months. In Traditional Chinese Medicine colicky babies are considered to have weak digestion, which may lead to improper digestion of food. This improper digestion of food, known as food stagnation can cause a distended belly in a baby and create a sense of “fullness” that causes the baby to have a stomachache. A Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner will adjust baby’s diet, and instruct parents on proper massage techniques to improve digestion.
- Nightmares and Sleep problem: Sleep disturbances in children are often due to temporary or chronic medical issues and are seen in as many as 30% of infants and children. Disturbances may range from insufficient sleep, bedtime setting problems, sleepwalking, to sleep apnea. Sleep problems and lack of sleep can have negative effects on the developing mind and body of a child. Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture works to help infants and children cope with their external and internal environments and receive adequate levels of nighttime sleep.
- Bedwetting:Occasional bedwetting in children is common, but if it happens frequently it may indicate imbalance in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine views bedwetting as a disorder of water in the body, and treats children gently and naturally with acupressure, Shonishin, herbs, and moxibustion.
- Abdominal pain
- Musculoskeletal pain
Children can start receiving acupuncture treatments from birth and continue them all through childhood. Traditional Chinese Medicine minimizes the need for medications and invasive therapies, and provides excellent preventative care. Number of treatments depends of severity of illness, duration of symptoms, and child’s vitality. Studies have found that children who receive acupuncture therapy report less pain, increased school attendance, improved sleep, and increased participated in extracurricular activities.
Diet and Nutrition
Growth and development of babies and children is highly relied on by the nutritional intake of food. This is the time in their lives that sets the stage for their digestive and physical health that will affect the rest of their lives. Many people know already that mother’s breast milk provides many nutritional benefits to newborns that nothing else in the world can provide.
Breast feeding is recommended the most by healthcare practitioners as an infant’s primary source of food for the first 6 months. This is because it is scientifically proven that babies who are feed by breast milk in their entirety for the first 6 months have less health problems including: respiratory illnesses, digestion disturbances, immunity deficiencies, and even childhood obesity.
At Whole Family Health we can help you sufficiently devise a plan to help with breast feeding goals and the weaning process after the course of 6 months. We know that in today’s society many moms work and maintain a full time career on top of taking care of her family. However, by investing in her child’s nutrition for the first six months to a year by providing breast milk she is ensuring that her child will be healthier in the long run.
Lifestyle and Mind-Body Medicine
Children can absolutely be taught from a young age the benefits of mindfulness and meditation!
In addition to acupuncture and nutrition, learning relaxation techniques are greatly beneficial to general health and wellbeing. Chronic, or acute, lifestyle stress can have a wide variety of negative effects on the body, including reproductive organ blood flow and hormone regulation. Physical and psychological stress can make existing symptoms worse and delay overall internal healing.
Techniques that elicit the relaxation response (a state of deep relaxation in which the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, muscle tension relaxes, stress hormone levels fall, and the mind becomes tranquil), and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga may aid greatly in bringing balance to mental and emotional states. Practicing focused deep-breathing, meditation, yoga, tai-chi and other activities are among those that can increase your chances of a healthy life. Listening to music, focused breathing, or being outside in nature are also effective methods of managing stress.