Infant & Child Acupuncture

Parents can be confident and have peace of mind that Chinese Medicine techniques and acupuncture are a natural, gentle treatment option that can be used safely and effectively as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with Western Medicine to treat a wide range of common childhood illnesses and keep your kids and babies healthy and well. Infant & child acupuncture is gently and effectively applied to a range of ages below:

Chinese Medicine for new born babies to 6 months

Using Chinese Medicine to care for children

Becoming a mother is a huge responsibility and it is our experience that every mother is focused on doing the ‘right thing’, especially when it comes to making health care decisions for their child.
There is an overwhelming amount of information in the public forum mixed with many conflicting words of advice around parenting and caring for children. It can be very difficult for even the most conscientious mother to discern ‘right’ from ‘wrong’.

In reality there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

What we believe is more important is that mothers listen to their maternal intuition, experiment broadly and settle on what makes sense and what works for themselves and their child.

Using Chinese Medicine to treat kids

As a rule of thumb what we don’t understand we fear, and the health and wellbeing of your child is no exception.

Chinese Medicine has history

Chinese Medicine doctors first developed the speciality of paediatrics during the Song Dynasty period (960-1279 AD).

But life doesn’t start or end with childhood.

In Chinese Medicine childhood is seen merely as a point on the continuum of a person’s entire lifecycle.

Preserving health and wellness at every stage is essential for producing strong, thriving individuals and communities.

As such past and present disturbances in health are considered within a broader context rather than as independent, unconnected or disconnected episodes which is more typical of a symptomatic Western Medical based approach.

By preventing children from becoming sick in the first place, treating illness quickly when it manifests and addressing constitutional weaknesses before serious disease appears each child will be given an excellent opportunity to live a long, happy, healthy life.

Common health problems in first 6 months

Chinese Medicine uses the beautiful analogy of children being like tender, immature sprouts tentatively emerging from the soil to describe growth and development.

Like germinating seeds children rely on heat to grow.

Development is not steady. It comes in fits and starts with periods of rapid growth and change often precipitated by increased body temperature in the form of fever.

Apart from congenital abnormalities and premature birth the earliest complications for paediatric health usually results from birth trauma.

We recommend cranio-sacral osteopathy for mothers and babies to aid recovery from childbirth. Osteopathy is a safe, gentle and effective modality to correct the effects of birth trauma and give your baby an integrated start to life.

The following tend to be difficulties related to feeding.

Colic is a common symptom that drives new parents to distraction if not to the mental hospital. It occurs because a baby’s immature digestion is adapting from receiving nourishment via the placenta to taking physical food via the stomach.

Symptoms include vomiting, painful stomach cramps and wind which is especially worse in the afternoon and evening and improves with farting.

An inconsolable baby in pain especially in the middle of the night is no fun for any new parent yet crying is one of the few ways a baby communicates discomfort.

This is really baby indigestion and Chinese Medicine can help.

Digestion is always weak in children. Chinese Medicine considers that before the age of 7 years a child’s digestion is always immature or under developed.

It is thought that because babies go from receiving readymade nourishment via the bloodstream to having to absorb and digest food via the stomach that digestion can be easily disturbed. It takes several years for the digestive function to mature and strengthen.

As such digestive issues are major contributors to childhood illness.

There are three components to digestion:

• What we eat
• How we eat
• How we digest.

Because ‘healthy’ diet is such a huge topic shrouded with an overwhelming amount of conflicting, confusing and erroneous advice it is not covered here.

As far as the physiological function of the digestion goes, the how we digest component, the Chinese believe that the primary role of the digestion is to separate the useful, ‘good’ energy from the non-useful energy or waste products, also known as phlegm.

They have a saying that weak digestion produces phlegm and the lungs and associate organs store it.

This trilogy of digestive imbalance producing phlegm which causes problems in the lung, ear, nose and throat appear as common themes in childhood illness.

Chinese Medicine can strengthen digestion, treat phlegm and help prevent digestive problems and upper respiratory illness in children.

Common health problems in Toddlers

By the age of 2 children are usually well established on solid food, although Chinese Medicine considers digestion underdeveloped until age 7.

Fever tends to be a common complicating factor in childhood illness in this age group.

Children suffer from too much heat

Chinese Medicine believes that children tend to suffer more from fevers because their bodies are relatively more ‘Yang’ or hot in nature.

Parents will often notice that their children naturally get hotter as a precursor to growth spurts.

Elevated body temperature due to growth spurts tends to be lower grade than those of an infection. Infections are usually also accompanied by sore throat, swollen glands, snotty nasal stalactites, pawing at the ears and coughing.

Another example of this phenomenon is when a child is teething which is often accompanied by cheek redness and fever. The Chinese believe that the elevation of body temperature causes a flourish of growth and activity whereby teeth literally sprout from the gums.

There are safe and simple first aid Chinese massage techniques that parents can give to their children to reduce fever naturally and drug-free. Contact the clinic for more information.

Sleep disturbance

Sleep disturbance is also common in this age group.

As any parent will tell you a good parenting day magically coincides with a good night’s sleep for all in the house.

An unsettled child at night can be exhausting and distressing.

Once contributing factors such as illness, hunger and pain are excluded as possible causes of the sleep disturbance then one can look further afield.

The most common Chinese Medicine explanation is heat.

Night time is Yin time, the coolest part of the day set aside for rest and restoration.

Daytime is Yang time, the warmest part of the day set aside for activity, movement.

If your child is unsettled at night it can indicate too much Yang or activity and heat at the wrong time of the day and often is worse in warmer weather.

This pattern is relatively easy to treat.

Upper respiratory, ear, nose and throat problems:

Ear, nose, throat and lung problems are among the most common paediatric illnesses of the 2-7 age group and kids start to mix with other children at childcare and swim in heated pools.

In fact we commonly hear parents reporting that they have an expectation that their child will be sick for the first 3-4 months of attending day-care as ‘germy’ kids infect and reinfect each other.

There is another way.

Illness is not a foregone conclusion when your child goes to childcare and they definitely don’t need to suffer.

Respiratory symptoms include a runny nose, cough, the common cold, bronchitis, asthma, tonsillitis, swollen glands and earache.

The common theme of these conditions according to Chinese Medicine is again digestive weakness combined with our friend Phlegm which tends to accumulate in the upper cavities of the body, weakening immunity and making kids more susceptible to infection.

The extra heat synonymous with growth spurts raises body temperature causing the phlegm in the body to dislodge and rise like a hot air balloon and aggravate the ears, nose and throat causing earache.

Common health problems in the 7 year old to adolescent age group

By the age 7 more often than not children are at their healthiest physically.

Their digestion has fully matured. They have survived all of the typical childhood diseases and are yet to encounter those illness or imbalances more commonly associated with adolescence and older age.

A child’s social circles are expanding outside of their family. They have more mature school interaction with peers and teachers and increased exposure to media of all forms.

Growth and development is focussed on maturation at the social and emotional levels.

The world is an oyster and the information they gather can be overwhelming.

Imbalances in this age group are typically of an emotional and behavioral nature. Anxiety, phobias, hyperactivity restlessness at night time and nightmares are all more common characteristics of this age group.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD typically start in childhood.

The attention deficit aspect includes a child who experiences difficulty in focussing and concentrating, who is easily distracted and easily bored, who has poor organisational skills and who has difficulty following through with instructions.

The hyperactivity symptoms include restlessness, agitation and an inability to stay still or relax.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe.

The impact of these symptoms can manifest as disruptive, chaotic, out of control behaviour which can affect a child’s academic performance, damage their self-esteem, school and home relationships and interfere with their social development.

There appears however to be no clear medical explanation for ADD/ADHD although there are a number of psychological theories.

For most parents all they really want in life is for their kids to be happy, feel good about themselves and achieve their full potential.

We want parents to know that Chinese Medicine is a gentle, alternative or adjunctive treatment which might be able to help kids who are struggling with these types of behavioural disorders.

It can be used safely as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with drug therapy, classroom assistance and family and child counselling.

In Chinese Medicine there is no diagnosis called ADD/ADHD. The causes are often multifactorial but can be explained by the Chinese system of medicine.

 Both parents and children usually have a good idea of what aggravates the symptoms such as food colourings and preservatives, overstimulation, certain times of the day, tiredness, watching too much TV or excessively playing computer games.

Chinese Medicine practitioners always treat each child differently and the case presentation needs to be assessed fully as a matter of course.

As previously mentioned children tend to suffer more from heat disorders, although not always.

More often than not and especially in cases where hyperactivity is a primary feature of the ADD/ADHD presentation heat is the complicating factor.

To explain this condition according to Chinese Medicine one might imagine a boiling pot on the stove that is bubbling away. The heat rises and the water bubbles, never being able to rest.

So it is with the body.

If a child’s body is relatively too hot the heat will rise and disturb the upper part of the body, agitating the mind or consciousness causing difficulty in concentration and focus. It also causes physical agitation of the whole body resulting in a child that finds it very difficult to rest and relax.

For more information on the topic refer to the section on stress management.

Our approach

When treating children for any condition but especially behavioral problems we try to make the consultations as non-confrontational and friendly as possible.

We won’t label your child and we won’t unnecessarily interrogate them, instead we are looking for patterns rather than causes.

Chinese Medicine treatment might not necessarily eradicate the symptoms of ADD/ADHD completely, but it can be very helpful.

Our anecdotal experience is that with treatment parents soon start to notice their child to be calmer, more settled and happier in themselves. Their behavior is less erratic, school performance improves, they become more social and the quality of their interpersonal relationships improves.