Treatment of Children with Oriental Medicine

As Seen In "Natural Awakening" Magazine.
Cameron Bishop DAOM, L.Ac

Traditionally in the Orient, herbs and acupuncture were used for the whole family, including its livestock. Parents were more interested in keeping their children healthy rather than treating symptoms once they manifested. They needed to keep their livestock healthy to nourish the family.

The most common syndromes are the treatment of allergies, asthma and digestion in the USA with Acupuncture and herbs. With the consultation of their physician, many kids can stop their medications or greatly reduce them. In difficult cases the medication starts to work more effectively with acupuncture care.

Common Syndrome areaa: 

1. Weak Lungs manifesting in allergies, frequent colds, asthma, and poor energy.
2. Weak digestion manifesting in poor bowel movements, sugar cravings, moodiness, and weight issues.
3. Weak water systems leading to urination problems, energy, and failure to thrive.
4. Injuries - sports and other injuries can be helped to heal faster with acupuncture and herbs.
5. Stress and burnout - overachieving or home/school life can lead to health disorders.

Treating children with acupuncture and herbs is much different than treating adults. We rarely use needles because of the special tools we use to stimulate the acupuncture points without insertion or pain. These Shoninshin techniques for Japanese Pediatric Acupuncture are fast and effective. It requires special training to administer and originates in Japan where pediatric acupuncture speciality clinics are common.

Usual acupuncture requires needle insertion and lying for approximately ten to twenty minutes. When you eliminate the need for children to lie still for extended periods, it becomes a fun task. Often children, on the second treatment, charge into the room flinging their socks and shirts and spring onto the table. The treatment resembles a massage rather than "getting a shot".

The longest part of the treatment is the intake with the parents, discussing the symptoms and medications. Often times simple treatments with corrections to diet can make profound changes in children's behavior and symptoms.

Once I treated twin boys for allergies. They improved with treatments but kept back sliding. We had determined that sugar, milk and wheat made their symptoms worse and decided to eliminate them. They came for treatment and they were worse. The mother insisted their diet was fine. I asked the boys what they had for breakfast and they proudly announced coco puffs and milk!

A young mother once brought her son who had a red face, constipation and very bad temper. The boy did not have a fever but was constantly hot, insisting he did not want to wear shoes and shirt even in cold weather. He naturally was a warm blooded kid, but by adding the warming processed foods he became hot, irritable and his colon became clogged. By doing a simple release of points, this child later was able to have a large bowel movement that cleared out the blocked up heat. His red face disappeared and his behavior improved immensely. I had warned the mother it would be big, and smelly. She thanked me for the warning.

Kids get hurt. Many sports injuries have been hurried along with herbs and acupuncture to get cabin fever boys back outside.
Acupuncture helps them get back on the field and back in the classroom, earning scholarships, and good grades. Sometimes I treat members from competing teams and have to schedule carefully!

While living in Japan I taught English to an MD Allergist. He took one look at me and recommended herbal therapy. It was part of their Universal Health Care Plan (we are the only industrial country not to have one). I really did not believe in it one way or the other but I thought, "When in Rome...". I was amazed after months of treatment the constant allergies that my brother and I always had were greatly improved. I use to live with a pocket full of tissues for my nose. I wish my mother had taken me to an herbalist as a child.

Eventually doing Martial Arts in Japan, I got a shoulder injury and once again my trusty MD recommended something new - Acupuncture. Again I was not sure, but thought it would make a good beer story to tell the guys. I went and it worked, and back to the mats I went.

The use of Oriental Medicine has far from hit any kind of peak or large interest in this country. In the East there are dedicated children's clinics, but in American acupuncture schools there is often little training in pediatrics. Post Graduate Japanese Acupuncture Programs - a gentle cousin to Chinese Acupuncture - often have advanced pediatric techniques.