By Trudi Rumball, Registered Acupuncturist
More and more we are seeing our clients bring their children in for complimentary therapies. Lots of our patients who have children inquire about if different modalities are suitable for their children during their own appointments. The short answer is yes! Babies through to teenagers can benefit from almost all of our modalities, including acupuncture!
Children are extraordinarily receptive to acupuncture, sometimes receiving extreme benefit from only getting one or two needles. Adults typically have years and years of emotional and physical trauma on their bodies that takes a few treatments, and perhaps different modalities combined to get their desired results. Children, on the other hand, typically are very responsive to small and subtle treatments, sometimes only using minimal needling or perhaps acupressure only.
The needles used in acupuncture treatments are extremely fine, about the width of a strand of hair. With smaller children, the needles don’t even have to be retained in the skin, but instead quickly inserted and removed, which will yield good results. If they can remain safely for a short period of time too, sometimes we try that as well ( ages 5-10 typically). We also do acupressure points, showing kids (and parents) how and where so they can self-administer in between sessions. I find acupressure exceptionally helpful with any emotional and anxiety-related disorders in my pediatric practice, as it gives children tools they can take out of the clinic and use in everyday life.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), there are other modalities acupuncturists will typically use on children as well. We use ‘ear seeds’, which are placing little tiny seeds or magnets on little tiny band-aids in specific auricular acupuncture points. These can stay on the ears for a few days and really benefit the entire system.
Cupping has become an increasingly popular modality in the last few years (thank you Michael Phelps!) and is totally safe, and also recommended for children. It can help with muscle aches and tension, growing pains, stress, colds and flu’s, chest congestion and anxiety. Cupping activates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and forces the body to relax. We have many different types of cupping we can use on children including glass, silicon, plastic and magnetic.
I see many children in my practice for physical ailments due to sports (dance and hockey especially) and parents even bringing their kids in preventatively during sports season, just to keep the kids limber and injuries at bay.
I have been seeing more and more anxiety and depression-related issues in children, some in as young as 5 years old. Some parents are not even aware that these conditions are stemming from emotional disorders. This can present anywhere from constipation, to nervous behaviors (i.e. hand wringing, nail biting), nausea, refusing eye contact, and complete disengagement. Through a combination of acupuncture /pressure, cupping, and craniosacral therapy, we can offer relief from many of these symptoms.