When we think of having our children treated for a health problem, acupuncture probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. However, acupuncture is a safe, effective, and gentle method of treating babies and children and can be used from the moment they are born. It is, perhaps, not as gentle as homeopathy, but compared to Western medicine which, even before treatment is considered, may involve the insertion of large needles for diagnostic blood tests, the near-painless use of very fine needles in acupuncture is indeed a gentle technique.

Pediatrics has formed a specialized subject in Chinese medicine since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Chinese doctors recognized the differences between children and adults in diagnosis and treatment, and adapted their methods to the treatment of children.
To give an idea of how children differ from adults, we can look at a few examples. First of all, children tend to have more digestive troubles. Before birth, children do not have to digest food because they take all they need from their mothers. After birth, eating and absorbing food in order to grow is their main problem in life. A baby’s digestive system is working so close to maximum capacity that it only needs a small extra stress to become overloaded. Needless to say, digestive disorders are extremely common in children. Secondly, children are extremely Yang compared to adults. They are active, vigorous, always moving, and demanding attention. Because of this relative imbalance between Yin and Yang, it is easy for children to come down with hot diseases such as fevers and convulsions. Lastly, children are more delicate than adults; they can quickly become overheated in hot weather or catch a chill in cold weather. They are more susceptible to viruses than adults and are easily affected by changes in diet. They can quickly become seriously ill, but also can just as quickly regain their health.
A typical treatment for children may include needles, however the needles are stimulated and immediately taken out. An acupuncturist can also use many other tools to treat a child other than needles. Massage may be used, moxibustion (heat-therapy) could be effective, a retractable needle that does not pierce the skin is often used, as well as other tools which stimulate acupuncture points and the skin, but do not penetrate the body. It is important to bear in mind that although children cry when they experience pain, they do not fear it as many adults do. Also, it is sometimes hard for many parents to see that the small amount of pain associated with a few treatments is insignificant compared to a lifetime of disease.
Acupuncture can help with all the various and common ailments children might have including: teething pain, abdominal pain, fevers, flu, cough, asthma, side effects from immunizations, otitis media (earache), insomnia, eczema, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, constipation, diarrhea, and nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting).
On a personal note, my daughter had eczema on her cheek and wrists when she was an infant. I treated her by stimulating certain acupuncture points with a retractable needle and also by implementing a few dietary changes. Her skin improved and she no longer suffers from eczema. Because children have so much energy and vitality, I find that only a few treatments can make a big difference in their health.

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