I often get asked: “Can children receive acupuncture?,” the answer is: “Of course!!”
I have been treating my own children as well as others since my eldest was just a baby which is just over 9 years. We can treat a variety of issues that arise as a child grows and develops, such as digestive complaints, insomnia, night terrors, eczema, headaches, dizziness, body aches and pains, chronic low immunity, asthma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, hyperactivity, allergies, etc.
Pediatric Acupuncture is virtually painless and is specific for children between the ages of infant up to 14 years of age. I like to emphasize that we are a team when it comes to treatments and that we will make decisions together, no surprises!
When it comes to Pediatric Acupuncture we like to call them “taps” instead of “needles” as this can be a scary word for young ones. The “taps,” or needles used are very small and very thin, (0.1/0.2mm in thickness x 0.5 inch in length). Young children are so abundant in qi and blood that often we only have to “tap” the point in, pull it out and proceed to the next point. As children get older we begin to retain needles but for much less time than we would for an adult. They respond very quickly to treatment and a parent will generally see a visible change in their child that day. There are also many non-needling tools and techniques that we can use during treatment time such as microcurrent, laser, gua sha, cupping and tui na for kids who are not ready for “taps” just yet.
Microcurrent is a form of electrostimulation upon the acupuncture points. It places a micro amount of electrical current at the acupuncture point to stimulate it. The device is gently placed on the acupuncture point and it is held there for 10-15 seconds. Generally I encourage the child to count with me to help me out which is empowering for them and gives them control over the treatment!
Laser acupuncture is another effective way to stimulate the acupuncture points. The laser is placed upon the skin and held from 10-30 seconds depending upon the issue being dealt with. Increasingly, research is showing the effectiveness of red and blue lasers. You can find more information about the science of laser therapy here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
The red laser is tonifiying (strengthening) and the blue laser has more sedative (calming) effects. It works great for skin conditions, scars, mental/emotional issues, digestive disorders, etc.
Another method used in pediatric treatments is called Gua sha. Defined as gentle scraping pressure with a tool upon the skin in order to increase microperfusion. “Gua,” means to scrape or rub; “Sha,” means petachiae and eccymosis (redness upon the skin). It has both an immune boosting and anti-inflammatory effect on the body and I teach parents how to do this in their own home with use of a rounded jar lid, rounded spoon, clean coin, etc. Children enjoy this technique quite a bit and will ask for it when not feeling well. If you are lucky they will reciprocate the action!
Cupping is becoming a widely known modality within acupuncture treatments for adults. For pediatric treatments we use silicone cups as they allow better control over the amount of suction of the cup upon the child’s skin. Cupping is great for pain in the body, coughs, colds, calming the nervous system and engaging the immune system. Silicone cups come in many different sizes and styles depending on the area that we are working on. Children especially love to play with the cups and practice placing them upon their own bodies.
“Tui Na,” is a form of Chinese massage. There are various techniques of pressing, pinching, pulling and rubbing on specific acupuncture points to assist the body’s healing response. It’s a gentle method of acupressure and children especially love a little massage before heading to bed. Generally, I will teach parents how to do tui na on their children to use as a tool at home when they are not well or we are trying to combat the issue at the clinic and at home.
All in all acupuncture is a wonderful tool that can be utilized to keep your child happy and healthy. Our number one goal is to empower the parent and the child in their own health and wellness!!