What is acupuncture, how does it work, and can you really do it with children?
Acupuncture, along with Chinese herbs, is perhaps one of the oldest of the Healing Arts of Oriental Medicine and has been practiced for over 4,000 years. In traditional Chinese medicine, our physical body and all of its internal organs are regulated by a life force, called Qi (pronounced chee). Qi circulates throughout the body along major channels, similar to the way blood runs through the vessels in our bodies. Hundreds of points have been identified along these pathways that, when stimulated by needles, affect our bodily processes. When Qi flows abundantly, one can experience optimum health; however, when there are blockages to the flow of energy, pain and “dis-ease” occur. Acupuncture restores the body’s natural circulation of Qi, by unblocking and rebalancing the natural flow of energy throughout the body.
In pediatrics, acupuncture can be used to treat most acute conditions (i.e. fever, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, acute wheezing, allergies, headaches, gastroenteritis), as well as a variety of chronic conditions (i.e. infant colic/reflux, weakened immune system, chronic urticaria, eczema, constipation, asthma, failure to thrive).
Even the squirmiest child can have a quick, successful acupuncture treatment! Needles are inserted into acupuncture points and then quickly removed for children, and not left in the body for several minutes as they are for adults. The most commonly employed acupuncture technique involves the insertion of very thin, sterile, metallic needles into the body at specific points to restore the flow of vital energy.
Besides using needles in Chinese acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, and pestle needle therapy are commonly employed to restore Qi. Other options include laser acupuncture, Japanese Sho-ni-shin (“needleless acupuncture”), and Tui Na (Chinese infant massage). My tools include acupuncture needles, moxa sticks, glass cups for fire cupping, pestle needle, and a Sho-ni-shin kit.