Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Let me just start by answering my own question...a resounding YES! Acupuncture for children has a long, rich history beginning in China and (insert excited emoji here), it's gaining popularity in the States!
As a pediatric acupuncturist, I'm often asked two questions when it comes to providing this medicine to children:
1. My child is scared of needles, so how would you be able to help them?
2. Why would I bring my child in for acupuncture in the first place?
Both are excellent questions that I wanted to take a stab at (no pun intended).
Question one is such a good one. If you've never had acupuncture before, likely your experience with "needles" has been getting a shot or a blood draw. Both of these experiences can be unpleasant, and even downright traumatic for little ones.
The first thing to note is that acupuncture needles are VERY different from hypodermic needles. Firstly, they are not hollow, so they do not draw anything out of or put anything into the body. Secondly, they are super tiny. Especially the ones that I use on kiddos - we're talking hair thin. Check out this photo below, maybe zoom in, and see if you can actually even see the needle underneath the green handle.
I have a feeling some of you still might be thinking, "Ok, I get that the needles are small, but my kid will NEVER let you near them with those things."
My answer? "Great! No problem - we will simply try another approach!" The incredible thing about practicing acupuncture and East Asian medicine as a whole is that we are trained in many different modalities. Especially those of us that choose to specialize in pediatrics - many of us dedicate our post-graduate studies to honing techniques that are super gentle while still being super effective.
My practice is probably about 30% traditional acupuncture with the needles that you see above. The other 70% is non-needle approaches like shonishin, laser acupuncture, moxa, herbal medicine, cupping, and medical massage. Stay tuned for future blog posts on these topics to learn more! Each of these techniques are giving similar messages to little bodies - improve blood circulation, keep that immune system healthy, and keep that nervous system calm!
That leads me seamlessly into question two about what types of childhood health concerns acupuncture can help with. Here's my A, B, C's of acupuncture that I often use to describe its benefits:
Activates immune response
Brings about feelings of calm
Circulates blood and oxygen to tissues and organs
Based on those three categories, we can more clearly see what acupuncture can treat. For example, health issues that have an immune system component such as allergies, frequent ear infections or colds and flus, and asthma can all be helped by acupuncture.
Situations where a child may need help regulating their nervous system, like cases of ADHD, colic in babies, or difficulty sleeping can benefit from acupuncture treatments.
Poor circulation or diseases that could benefit from improved blood flow - headaches, pain, constipation, eczema are a few - can definitely be helped by acupuncture.
I hope this was helpful - let's meet back in this space soon to talk more about acupuncture (and a bunch of other cool stuff) for kids!