National Institutes of Health reports that millions of adults have used acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions from low-back pain to insomnia. However, many are not aware that pediatric acupuncture is on the verge of becoming mainstream treatment for childhood illnesses. The National Health Interview Survey back in 2007 revealed that 150,000 children in the U.S. used acupuncture.
You may wonder, how exactly does acupuncture work? In Chinese and Oriental medicine theory, pain and illness are caused by either an imbalance or blockage of the energy (qi) flow of the body. Acupuncture works by detecting a body’s imbalance and restoring that body’s innate ability to heal. When there is an energy blockage, blood and other body fluids cannot circulate well. When energy is stuck, it can start generating heat, which can then lead to inflammation.
I have seen many kids who were treated with western medications, such as, antibiotics for infections. It works quickly, but the infection can often come back. This is because modern medicine is great at curing symptoms, but often doesn’t have an ability to heal the root cause. Furthermore, unfortunately modern medicine can cause unwanted and counterproductive side effects.
At Maui Kids Acupuncture, we call acupuncture and acupuncture needles “kitty whiskers”. Acupuncture needles are hair thin, and approximately 15-20 acupuncture needles can fit into the space of one standard hypodermic needle. Many kids are open to getting kitty whiskers done after seeing how thin they are. Children generally respond very quickly to treatments, so kitty whiskers don’t need to stay in long. However, if they are scared of or not open to kitty whiskers, there are several non-needle options for them.
Shonishin was developed in Japan in the 1700s as a specialized form of treatment for infants and children. Shonishin uses tools and utilizes gentle techniques such as stroking, rubbing, tapping, and pressing the skin to give gentle stimulation. These techniques use the same meridians and channels that acupuncture uses to balance and strengthen the constitution and immunity in non-invasive way. Shonishin is also very relaxing. We call this sweeping in our clinic.
Laser acupuncture has a similar effect as acupuncture. With laser acupoint stimulation, kids usually don’t feel any sensations, which uses cold lasers to stimulate points on the body, or with acupressure. We call this blinky light in my clinic.
Moxibustion/Moxa is a form of heat therapy using the herb, dried mugwort. In our clinic, we use a chrome device that holds moxa incense, which is safer than using direct or stick moxa on kids. This device allows me to adjust its heat level. Moxa has the ability to deliver deep penetrating heat, thus helping to warm the body from deep inside for cold or deficient conditions. We call this warmy stick in our clinic.
Pediatric Tuina is a special massage for kids and has been practiced in China for 700 years. It works by balancing the child’s energy flow in the same way as acupuncture.
Ear seeds are small seeds from the vaccaria plant that are secured with a little piece of adhesive tape over specific acupuncture points. The seeds stimulate the point by exerting mild pressure. The patient can rub or press on them for an added effect. I give my little patients “homework” by asking them to press the seeds. They can stay in place for up to a week or two, as long as they are not irritating the skin.
When I’m asked how treating kids compares to treating adults, in my experience, kids respond to a treatment much quicker and stronger, and the effectiveness of treatment lasts longer. I’ve had great success treating, both environmental and food allergies, anxiety, digestive issues (such as GERD, diarrhea, constipation), skin issues (such as rash, eczema, hives), migraines, common colds, flu, insomnia, ear infection, sinus infection, sensory processing disorder, attention disorder, and bet wetting in kids to name a few.
If your child is suffering from an acute or chronic condition that you would like help with, please don’t hesitate to call Maui Kids Acupuncture. I can treat the whole family!
Image Credit: Yumiko Freeman