Can kids get acupuncture too?
Can acupuncture be used in children?
Yes! Paediatrics is a field of Chinese medicine that has been around since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and one that can be very effective. It’s treatments include Tui na (specific massage techniques), acupressure, Shonishin (non-penetrating acupuncture tools, seen in the picture below), acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, and dietary therapy.
How do children differ to adults?
In children, there physiology is slightly different, with an insufficient digestive and immune system being key. This is not necessarily because there is a problem with these organs, but that the strain of these systems is higher as the child is growing and therefore eating more foods which requires more work on digestion. Their organs are still developing, and their immune system is building itself up as it is being exposed to lots of new environments. Children are also much more ‘yang’ meaning they are more active and dynamic, and tend to develop fevers much easier and illnesses become serious quickly. In saying this, children also respond to treatments quicker than adults.
What ages can get acupuncture?
All ages can receive treatments, and it is always adapted to suit the child. In terms of what is commonly seen at different ages, Julian Scott (1) provides this guide:
Up to 6 months old- usually more problems with food stagnation as the digestive system is adapting to new foods and rapid growth. Children at this age are also likely to be first coming into contact with infections and getting immunised. As a result of this digestive illness, disorders such as asthma, eczema, vomiting and diarrhoea result. Digestion should always be a focus.
Around 2yrs- commonly disorders here are around febrile diseases and often the more strong-willed the child, the more heat there is. Fevers may last 1-2 days and can then reside. These fevers become an issue when there are swollen glands in the neck accompanying and signs of distress.
Around 7yrs-12yrs- children become aware of their emotions and begin trying to control them. The main problems are surrounding stress, anxiety and overwork at school.
Puberty- this is a challenging time for children, and it is usually common to see emotional problems or period issues for females.
What conditions are commonly seen in children (2)?
Gastrointestinal disorders- vomiting, abdominal swelling, pain, appetite changes, foul smelling stools, diarrhoea, constipation, dry lips, painful gums and mouth ulcers.
Respiratory system disorders- nasal congestion, sore throat, colds/coughs, earaches, asthma, fever,
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders- including agitation, irritability, need for reassurance, anxiety/fear, constant movement, cognitive disorders, sleep issues, easily distracted, impulsivity.
Sleep issues- including getting to and staying asleep, night terrors and sleep walking.
Is there evidence on this?
Yep! The Evidence Based Acupuncture team do amazing work, and have reviewed 9 common conditions seen in children and the evidence of acupuncture in its effectiveness. To summarise, they found that acupuncture is effective at treating pain, nausea and vomiting (specifically post-operative and chemotherapy related), colic, bedwetting, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, asthma (and asthma-related anxiety), and neonatal care. For more information and to read the full article, head to https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/pediatric-acupuncture/
I am passionate about helping people of all ages, especially children, so we can set them up for a lifetime of great health!
1. Acupuncture in the treatment of children’ by Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow
2. Pediatrics in Chinese Medicine by Elisa Rossi