If you have children, you might like to know that not only is acupuncture safe for kids, it is a powerful healing modality that treats a wide range of children's health issues naturally and effectively. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide an alternative to the endless treadmill of antibiotics and can also work in conjunction with Western medical approaches. At Affordable Acupuncture we are lucky enough to have a pediatric acupuncture specialist – Angie Savva – and we can offer gentle, effective and pain-free treatments to your child in a safe environment.
The evidence – acupuncture is safe for kids
A recent study reviewed 31 pieces of published research on the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in children. They found that not only was acupuncture a safe modality for children with the risk of serious adverse effects being 0.00001% (which is dramatically lower than the risk of many commonly used OTC medications) but the incidence of side effects is extremely low and inconsequential, whilst the evidence for its effectiveness is high. Read the research yourself here.
More than pain relief – acupuncture can treat many conditions
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to treat a wide variety of children's health complaints, including: Coughs & Colds, Asthma, Constipation, Diarrhea, Colic, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rashes, Allergies, Autism & ADHD, Anxiety, Bedwetting, Sleep problems, Poor/Chronic low immunity, Headaches, Nausea and more. Because acupuncture works by stimulating the body to heal itself, it can be used to strengthen and support the body no matter what the condition.
Healing modalities – treatment is tailored to children's needs
You might be wondering if an acupuncture session for a child is different from that for an adult. The answer is yes. In Chinese medicine, children aren't seen as 'miniture adults', they are understood to be quite different physically and physiologically, and so methods of diagnosis are slightly different, as are the methods of treatment. A range of treatment modalities can be used – acupuncture, pediatric tuina (a specialised form of massage), microcurrent, laser, tiger thermie, shonishin, herbal medicine and dietary therapy. If acupuncture needles are used, they are briefly inserted and then removed almost instantly for children under 8. For older children, they may be left in a little longer but not as long as for an adult. This is because children's energy is very dynamic and pure, and responds very quickly.
What does a treatment look like?
Firstly we will have an indepth discussion of the child's health history and current complaint. We have a small play area for children to use whilst the practitioner and parent have this discussion, if appropriate. All aspects of the child's health are taken into consideration, including physical health, diet, environment and emotional wellbeing. The practitioner may or may not look at the child's tongue or pulse as these methods of diagnosis are not as reliable as when used with adults.
What happens next really depends on the age of the child. A wide range of treatment modalities can be used, as discussed above. If the child is old enough, we will introduce the idea of acupuncture by showing them a needle, and demonstrating “taps” (a non-threatening term to refer to acupuncture treatment) on the treatment table, a doll or toy, on the acupuncturist and/or on the parent. Then we will ask if the child would allow us to give them a “tap”, and give them a choice of points to start with. If this goes well, we will continue doing “taps” on a small number of acupuncture points. If a child is not old enough to understand a demonstration such as described above, we will still explain what we are about to do for both the parent and child, and proceed directly to 'taps' and other modalities.
After the treatment, the acupuncturist will give the child and parent some homework to continue with at home, for example a short massage routine or dietary changes. This will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the treatments.
Does acupuncture hurt?
This is a very common question, and the short answer is no. Most of the time, acupuncture is virtually painless, especially for kids. Pediatric acupuncturists are trained to use a special technique using extremely tiny needles – they are so fine that they are about the size of a strand of hair. For kids under 8 years old, the needles just go quickly in and out, so they don't even have to hold still for more than a few seconds at a time. An acupuncture needle might occasionally cause a very small amount of discomfort, but this typically only lasts a few seconds.
What if my child doesn't want to have needles?
Firstly, we will give you some tips on how to prepare your child for their first acupuncture session – see this link here:
This will help gently introduce the idea of what is to come in a familiar environment. Once at the clinic, if the child doesn't want to try “taps”, we can move straight onto a range of non-needle techniques and again, introduce each one by demonstrating and explaining what they do. We understand that not every child will want to have acupuncture, and we will never force a child to have an acupuncture treatment. There are plenty of non-needle techniques that we can use that are easy, painless and have a similar therapeutic effect to acupuncture. We aim to build a sense of trust and rapport with the child, so that even if they don't want to try the actual “taps” at first, they might be more amenable to the idea after trying a few different modalities or at the next appointment. The aim is to make the process as gentle, considerate, respectful but also effective as possible, by remaining flexible and responsive to the individual circumstances.
Would you like to know more?
We aim to write more about the benefits of acupuncture for children, but in the meantime if you have any questions, or are curious about what acupuncture can do for your child, please do contact us. We would be so happy to help you along the path of natural healing for your family.
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