Acupuncture and Paediatrics

Who better to reap the benefits of preventative medicine then those most pure - children.

Children seem to gain large benefits from preventative medicine and when it comes to their reaction to acupuncture, it's no different. Chinese Medicine has been treating children for centuries, and as it turns out

Paediatrics is one of the medicines best specialties (since the Song Dynasty - 960-1279).
Our children are so precious to us and seeing them unwell is difficult as parents. Through the treatment of Acupuncture we can strengthen the child and decrease illness.

Strengthening the Digestive System to Treat Illness
Oriental medicine views the treatment of children to be extremely important, and when treating children the most important system to treat is usually the digestive system. The focus of the digestive system in Oriental medicine consists of the Spleen and Stomach systems.
According to Chinese medical theory, children's spleens and stomachs up to the age of approximately six are inherently immature (because they are still developing). That means they do not function as efficiently as a healthy adult's does. Until then the digestive systems are weak and overworked, so it is not uncommon to see children complaining of various digestive upset from diarrhea to indigestion.

Nutrition
Parents might then ask, what is the best diet for my children? Children should be fed easy to digest foods, otherwise known as a clear and bland diet. This type of diet allows the child's digestive system to work more efficiently.

Infants should be feed breast milk above all else, as it is the best food for infants. So why breast milk? Breast milk has the proper antibodies necessary to keep a baby's immune system strong and functioning optimally.
Even though breast milk is the optimal food for infants, a mother can still overfeed the infant with her breast milk. Parents should be careful not to overfeed as this could lead to an accumulation of food in the baby's stomach.

When solid foods are introduced, one should start with easily digestible foods, like cooked carrots and well-cooked grains such as cream of rice. Because the process of digestion in Chinese medicine is likened to a process of cooking and distillation, foods which are cooked are, in general, more easily digested than uncooked foods. In other words, cooking is pre-digestion. Therefore, infants and very young children do better when they are fed mostly cooked, mashed, partially predigested foods than when they eat uncooked, chilled, or cold foods. Chilled and cold foods "douse" the fire of the spleen and (make it difficult to digest the food.) Likewise, drinking too many liquids and especially with meals "swamp" the spleen. In addition, foods that Chinese medicine labels as very "dampening" also easily harm the spleen when eaten excessively. These include sugars and sweets in general and dairy products (and especially chilled dairy products such as cheese and yogurt).

What are some causes for disease/illness in children?
There are several factors that can contribute to disease in any person and the same is true of children. In Oriental Medicine there are internal and external causes of disease. The external causes are linked to natural phenomenon that the Chinese observed to be true and the cause of illness. These external causes are wind, cold, dryness, heat, and dampness. When these factors are experienced in an excess amount then they may cause illness. They may also cause illness if the child has a weak constitution leaving them vulnerable to illness.

Another common cause of disease is emotional factors. Emotions are usually not a cause for illness in children, as they do not hold back from expressing their emotions. If children do go through emotional problems at home this can lead to illness and some examples of illness arising out of emotional disturbances are asthma, insomnia, urogenital disorders, and a number of mental illnesses.

Common illness treated with Oriental medicine:
Constipation
Constipation is seen frequently in children, as their digestive systems are delicate. If a baby does not have a bowel movement for one day this is considered constipation. If this continues this is more serious than the occasional missed day and treatment should be sot out. The main cause for constipation in children is an accumulation and overeating, irregular eating, and eating raw indigestible foods.  

Cough
Parents know all too well the sound of their child coughing. A chronic cough can disturb the entire family. The child and parents are unable to sleep because the cough is keeping them up. Some of the diagnoses attributed to a cough are phlegm in the lungs, or a lingering illness. Some of the factors that contribute to chronic coughs in children are eating phlegm-producing foods, unnecessary use of antibiotics, poor digestion, overtired, long term illness, and immunisations.

Otitis Media
Otitis Media is a very common illness in babies and children. Ear infections are no fun for the child as the pain is extremely uncomfortable, and the parents are scared that their child might become deaf due to the infection. It is for this reason that parents rush to bring their children to the doctor to receive antibiotics, and if the problem persists to have tubes placed in the ear. I am sure that parents will be happy to hear that there are other treatments that can help treat Otitis Media without the side effects of western medicine.

Acute ear infections are usually attributed to a virus or bacteria affecting the ear. If the infection is caused by a virus western medicine has little to offer in the form of treatment, yet many times antibiotics are still prescribed. The treatment of otitis media with frequent doses of antibiotics can cause the pathogen to linger leading to chronic otitis media. Regardless of the cause Oriental medicine has a good track record for treating both the acute and chronic variations. The acute otitis media is much easier to treat with the child experiencing relief quickly. For chronic otitis media the child will feel relief with the treatment however, continued treatment is necessary to make a long lasting effect.

Hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Parents, teachers, friends, and family all suffer when children are hyperactive. Children can be very energetic, disruptive, rude and violent when they have this disorder. Hyperactivity has some clear diagnoses in Oriental Medicine, which is in contrast to western medicine. In conventional medicine there are few tools with which to help these children other than drugs, Oriental medicine makes large strides with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

The four main causes for Hyperactivity are Heat, Phlegm Heat, Weakness in the digestive system (spleen), and kidney weakness. It is also extremely important to change the child's diet. A reduction in sugar, food colorings, junk food and dairy is necessary, along with a reduction in television and video games.
Common childhood conditions treated with Oriental Medicine:

  • Cough
  • Allergies
  • Fever
  • Asthma
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Bed Wetting
  • And More

What treatment techniques are used to treat Children?
Parents are usually weary of bringing in their child to get acupuncture because of its association with needles. Children usually do not have a problem with needles. Regardless of the fear or not, not all treatments need to use needles.