Many people have heard or experienced the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine as an alternative medicine. This ancient style of medicine which includes acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbs, and dietary modification is over 3,000 years old.
What is more exciting to learn is that this great medicine is not only a valuable asset for adults but for children as well. The TCM modalities used on children includes tui na (Chinese massage), Sho ni Shin (Japanese Pediatric acupuncture), Chinese herbs, nutritional therapy, and acupuncture. In TCM, children are not treated like adults. This is due to the fact that children's bodies are in constant mode of growing and developing. So, there is a continuous change going on with children unlike adults where they are already fully developed.
What happens during a treatment session with a TCM practitioner? The first thing that takes place is a full intake about the child's health condition. The practitioner then starts to make the child comfortable by talking and playing in order to build trust. The goal of course is to minimize the child's, as well the parent's, anxiety during the first treatment. Other areas of observation are child's behavior, mannerism, energy, voice, pulse and tongue. The practitioner also feels the body gently to sense the skin of excess or deficiency of heat/cold/clammy feeling. In younger children the vein at the base of the index finger is examined, this tells whether the disease is hot or cold, an excess or deficiency, how far it has progressed, and how dangerous the condition is.
What is involved in the treatment and how long will it take? The treatment plan depends on each individual's condition and age. Generally for children under age of 7-8, Shoni shin method is used. This procedure takes about 10 minutes and children usually love the calmness that it brings them. For older children, acupuncture needles are used. The needles are about hair thin and the sensation of insertion has been compared to a mosquito bite. Again, depending on the age and condition of the child, the needles are either inserted and taken out immediately or left in the body for 20 minutes as the patient rests. Then the nutritional therapy is discussed as needed.
How many times are treatments needed? It really depends on the child's condition (acute or chronic) and how his/her body reactsto the treatments. However, children generally respond quickly to TCM treatments.
What are the main causes of disease in children? As it was mentioned earlier Chinese medicine sees children's bodies to be immature, and therefore inherently weak, which makes them susceptible to disease. There are three general areas that disease is seen in children, the Lungs, the Spleen (digestion) and the Liver. This explains the recurrent upper respiratory tract complains such as colds and coughs, allergies and asthma, as well as digestive disorders like colic, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, and stomach ache.
Traditional Chinese Medicine provides great insight into many health problems not dealt with completely or satisfactorily by modern Western medicine. It is empowering in that it gives simple reasons for why we get sick and tells us what we can do to prevent andtreat those diseases. TCM is an excellent choice for keeping young children healthy as they grow into their adulthood.
Soheila Beberness, L.Ac.