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!

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