This ancient system of healing was developed over 3,000 years ago in China and has, over the years, become recognized as an effective healing agent by Western health professionals. Today, acupuncture involves the use of fine needles placed in carefully chosen points, or meridians, once the practitioner has identified the disharmony within a person's body and mind.
Most people associate needles with the pain of injections or having blood drawn. The needles used in acupuncture have no resemblance to that though; they are much finer, solid and not hollow, and tiny. Treatment can be one or two sessions or take a few months, depending on the target condition. As with all treatment options discussed, make sure you or your child are treated by a licensed acupuncturist (LAc).
The Chinese believe that there is an energy flow called “Qi” (pronounced chee) running throughout the body, and that acupuncture restores the balance of this energy flow, therefore eliminating symptoms of a disorder. With children and teenagers acupuncture seems to be helpful in reducing anxiety, attention deficit disorder, addictions such as smoking, alcohol, food, or drugs, arthritis, asthma, circulatory problems, depression, general aches and pains, menstrual problems, sciatica, and skin conditions.
How Pediatric Acupuncture Works
This form of treatment can be a safe and noninvasive option as compared to the possible side effects of medication for anxiety. Julian Scott, a pediatric acupuncturist, suggests using four to six body points for young children and a few more if the child is older. The technique should be one of gentle tapping and light stroking, which will most likely take from seconds to minutes.
Because it can be so quick, many parents find that a helpful solution to a squirmy or fussy child. Usually your child can sit in your lap during treatment, which enables you to be a part of the healing process, and helps your child feel safe and supported.
Traditional Chinese medicine includes herbs, and many acupuncturists may include herbs as a part of your child's treatment. Although the needling techniques have resulted in very few negative side effects, some herbs have been connected to more serious and frequent side effects.
Shonishin originated in Japan in the seventeenth century. It is literally translated as “children's acupuncture,” or “acupuncture for children.” It differs from standard acupuncture because the practitioner does not pierce the skin but instead uses an assortment of metal implements to gently stimulate the meridians and acupuncture points to move qi. This form of acupuncture, as with the standard kind, moves energy to unblock and to strengthen the qi where it is weak, creating balance in the child's body and a sense of calm. It is most useful for children from infancy through age five, although older children up to age twelve can benefit from this technique.