Sick Begone! (Treating Kids With Pediatric Chinese Medicine, Part 2)

Babies and kids get sick. Sometimes a lot. Even when they’re not sick, they can struggle with some of the same imbalances adults do, issues that cause nagging problems.

Headache Treatment!

Headache Treatment!

Imagine these scenarios:

  • Your daughter has her fourth ear infection in as many months and you don’t feel comfortable with another round of antibiotics.
  • Your baby has red, itchy eczema that seems to be spreading.
  • Your toddler is waking six times a night for no apparent reason.
  • Your son just doesn’t feel good, complaining of being tired and having a stomachache, but the pediatrician says everything is fine.

Any of that sound all too familiar and frustrating? Pediatric Chinese medicine can safely resolve each of these issues without medications or side effects. It can also help with the following common childhood issues:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Colds and flu
  • Coughs
  • Ear infections
  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Teething pain

What’s more, because the root cause of your child’s illness is treated in addition to symptom relief, they’re less likely to keep having the same problem in the future. You’ll also learn more about your child’s individual constitution and how that can affect them, in addition to being given nutritional and acupressure tips for use in home care. Win win!

Tired of the sickness merry-go-round? Give a licensed pediatric acupuncturist a call!


You Do WHAT? (Treating Kids With Chinese Medicine, Part 1)

google eye cupsWhen I tell people I’m an acupuncturist who treats kids, I get a lot of surprised looks. Some people back away a little bit. Most are too polite to say what they’re thinking, which is usually along the lines of “You do WHAT?”

So before I talk about the many ways Chinese medicine can help the kids in your life, let’s address the elephant in the room. Kids. Acupuncture needles. Doesn’t compute, right?

Well, consider this: my 12-year old daughter, who still asks me to take off her bandaids because she’s scared it’ll hurt, came to me the other day and said “Mom, I have a headache and my ears are stuffy. Will you do some acupuncture on me?” I put in a few points, none of which she could feel, and she happily sat on her bed for ten minutes while the needles did their work.

Fine, you say, but that’s a 12-year old. She’s sort of a grownup. What about little kids? What about babies? Yep. They love acupuncture too.

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Kids think acupuncture is FUN! I treat children with the same respect I do adults, and if a child is nervous about getting acupuncture, we take it slowly. But you know what? Once kids get over their initial apprehension and see that acupuncture needles are tiny and don’t hurt, they think it’s a blast to have a unicorn horn or kitty whiskers. Plus, they feel better!

2) There are LOTS of kid-friendly treatment options. In addition to acupuncture, at my office I use tuina (a form of acupressure), cupping, guasha, or laser stimulation of acupuncture points. All of these are painless and non-invasive, and are chosen based on the condition being treated and the age and personality of the child. Food therapy and herbal prescriptions are also awesome for kids, and are often recommended to help extend the effects of in-office treatments.

3) They DON’T have to sit still! Acupuncture for babies and young children involves a very quick in-out technique in which the needles are not retained at all. They can get treated while snuggled in a parent’s lap, breastfeeding, or playing in our kid’s corner. Older children may sit quietly for a few minutes with their points in, but only when they feel comfortable and happy about doing so.

Okay, so if an adult receiving acupuncture rests for 20-40 minutes, why doesn’t a kid need to do so? Children’s bodies are incredibly dynamic. They’re constantly growing and changing, their nervous systems are very adaptable, and unhealthy patterns have not had years to take root. This means that most kids respond really quickly to treatment, whether using acupuncture needles or one of the other tools available.

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to treat kids with Chinese medicine, stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where we’ll get into common pediatric conditions it can help with. Questions? As always, feel free to comment here, call, or email!

Why My First Acupuncturist Fired Me

IMG_7422Here’s a little story about stress. Twenty years ago, I had my first acupuncture treatment. I’d been suffering from heartburn and stomach pain for months, so I went to the doctor and she gave me some pills. They helped a little. I went to another doctor and had an endoscopy. He said everything looked good in there. I went to a (very expensive) holistic doctor who suggested I take baths with lavender oil.

Frustrated, I called an acupuncturist. I was living in San Francisco, so there were plenty to choose from. The man I saw was soft-spoken and kind. His clinic was paneled in golden wood, and each treatment table had a different rainbow-colored sheet on it. I liked acupuncture a lot. After that first visit, I took the bus back to work, where my boss did a double take and exclaimed “What did they do to you?” I asked him what he meant, and he said “I’ve never seen you so relaxed! What is that? Drugs?”

I hadn’t taken any drugs, just an acupuncture nap, but I did feel profoundly relaxed and open-hearted. Watching the city through the bus window, it looked like everything was sparkling. I was hooked, and went back every week.

Here’s the problem. My stomach never stopped hurting. So I was prescribed some herbs, and dutifully swallowed the funky-tasting powder three times a day, but still no change.

After a few weeks of little progress, my acupuncturist started asking more questions. Was anything bothering me? Was I happy? I was startled to be asked about my feelings when it was my stomach that felt bad. I smiled and told him everything was great. And it was: I lived in a beautiful city, I had a loving partner and great friends, I had a pretty good job.

Still, my belly was angry. I’d been getting treatment weekly for two months when my acupuncturist sat me down and said something shocking: “I can’t help you right now. Something’s making you unable to heal, and you need to figure that out. Until you do, you’re wasting your money with me. I’m sorry.”

His words echoed in my head for a long time, but I was confused. It was five years later that I finally understood what he was saying. That’s when I realized how scared I often felt, how insecure, how I didn’t know where I was headed in life. I started practicing yoga, and I noticed how I held my stomach muscles tight most of the time, how I kept my breath shallow and locked up high in my chest. I started breathing deeper. I started telling the pain in my stomach that things would be okay.

And it went away. Not immediately, but it went away, and I no longer have major problems unless I find myself storing stress inside instead of finding ways to acknowledge and handle it.

In gently dismissing me from his care, that long-ago acupuncturist taught me a hugely valuable lesson. I learned that my body responds to my mind, and that often you can’t separate the two. (These days, mainstream medicine believes the same thing!) I learned to be more honest with myself about my worries. And, now that I’ve become an acupuncturist myself, I learned that sometimes the most important thing I can do for people is to help them find that body/mind connection in themselves.

So thank you to that San Francisco acupuncturist in 1995. You didn’t cure me, except for the part where you did. And thank you to the people who sit in my treatment room and trust me with their stresses and fears. I’m honored to figure things out with you.



Three Easy Tips for Fall Health

IMG_6886Early this morning I grabbed a fleece jacket before walking the dog, and my husband turned on the heater in our bathroom for the first time since March. Sure, now that it’s past lunchtime it’s 80 degrees again, but I say when jackets come out, fall has arrived in Central Texas. Finally. Chilly mornings coordinate so much better with pumpkin.

The flip side of gorgeous weather is that we’re about to get on the viral merry-go-round again. Many Austinites deal with allergies year round, but when you add colds and flu to the mix, things get extra challenging. It’s not too late to boost your immune system, though, so you can fight off those germs when they find you. Here are three easy tips (I mean it, they really are easy) for fall health.

  1. Eat well! With both summer and fall produce still available, it’s a great time to enjoy cooking. Limit dairy products, which are cold and create phlegm. Focus on a rainbow of lightly cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, and lean proteins. If you haven’t visited one of Austin’s awesome farmer’s markets lately, fall is one of my favorite times to go.
  2. Watch out for chilly winds! In Chinese medicine, it’s believed that pathogens enter the body through the neck and upper back. Recent research studies confirm that you really can catch a cold from being cold. So keep a light scarf handy to cover your neck! They’re also helpful for those frigid office air conditioners. (If I’ve just helped to justify your mild scarf addiction, you’re welcome.)
  3. Take herbs! If you or your kids always have a rough time during cold and flu season, consider taking preventive Chinese herbs. The classic formula Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Windscreen) is safe for all ages and effective at bolstering immunity over time.

Considering acupuncture or herbs for an immune boost this fall? Contact me to learn more or schedule an appointment anytime.



Top 5 Myths About Acupuncture

Lots of people have heard myths about acupuncture. That’s no surprise, because not as many people have gotten past them and on to the benefits of the medicine. So, in the interest of clearing a few things up, let’s talk about the top 5 myths about acupuncture.

Myth #1: Acupuncture hurts! (Otherwise known as “There’s no way I’m letting you stick needles in my body.”)

Acupuncture needles are teeeeeny tiny. I often tell people that I wish I had a different word for them, because many people hear “needle” and freeze up. I don’t blame you! If your frame of reference is the hypodermic needles used when giving blood or getting a vaccination, those aren’t tiny, and yep – they hurt.

In the hands of a skilled, gentle acupuncturist, you’ll feel little to no discomfort. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel anything. Lots of people notice heaviness or a radiating sensation from points, but they usually say “Cool!” and take a relaxing nap.

Myth #2: Acupuncture doesn’t work.

Acupuncture has been helping people for thousands of years. But just as people have different responses to medication or surgery, people have different responses to acupuncture. Some people see quick, dramatic changes. Others experience more gradual, subtle effects.

Occasionally, people find that acupuncture doesn’t help them, and in those cases, I work to find a referral to another type of health care provider. My end goal is always, always for you to feel better.

Myth #3: But I tried it once, and it didn’t work.

I believe you. The problem is, acupuncture isn’t much like taking an Advil when something hurts. It’s more like watering grass that’s gone brown. You have to keep watering the grass for it to turn green again, right?

Acupuncture works in a similar way. Some people do feel completely better after one visit, but it usually takes longer, especially for chronic conditions. Communication is key here: I want you to know what to expect. I always tell you how many initial treatments I feel are necessary for your condition, and we’ll reassess together as needed.

Myth #4: I can’t get acupuncture because I’m already taking medications for my condition or seeing another kind of practitioner.

In almost all cases, acupuncture is a very safe therapy to use if you’re taking pharmaceutical medications. Combining different types of treatment works well too. For example, chiropractic adjustments can be easier and hold longer when paired with acupuncture.

If you’re unsure, talk with an acupuncturist and your other health care providers about a coordinated treatment plan.

Myth #5: Acupuncture treats pain, right? Nothing hurts right now.

Acupuncture’s great at treating pain. As a matter of fact, the military uses it in battlefield situations. But that’s definitely not all it can do.

Because acupuncture affects so many of our bodies’ systems – the nervous system, the immune system, the digestive system – it can treat many things. Trouble sleeping? Chronic stress or fatigue? Morning sickness? A kid who keeps getting ear infections? The list goes on, and you might be surprised!

Bonus (non-myth!) #6: I’m still not really sure about this.

That’s okay! Acupuncture is an ancient system of medicine, but it’s still pretty new in this part of the world, and lots of people have questions. I’m happy to answer yours, and I invite you to experience the awesome benefits of acupuncture for yourself.


Hi! Welcome to the Songbird Acupuncture blog. I’ll be posting here about how Chinese medicine works, when you might want to visit an acupuncturist, how to keep yourself and your family healthy seasonally, and much much more. Curious about anything in particular? Got a topic you’d like to read about? Contact me! Thanks for stopping by.