Ancient Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to treat children dating as far back as the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). The first book of Chinese pediatrics was written in 1032 AD by the specialist physician Qian Zhong Yang and includes detailed treatments for measles, scarlet fever, chicken pox and smallpox. This means Traditional Chinese Medicine has been tried and tested for over one thousand years and modern practitioners may draw on this experience when treating children‘s delicate systems.Children?s bodies are young and new which means they fall ill quickly and are also able to recover rapidly and respond to light acupuncture or tui na (medicinal massage) treatments using only small doses of herbs. Foundation for Life: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the state of the mother and father?s health prior to conception plays a vital role in the long term health of the child. Traditional Chinese Medicine helps build qi (life force) and blood to ready the couple to conceive easily and grow a strong healthy baby. Much research has been conducted in recent years into the effectiveness (33% success rate) of acupuncture to assist couples undergoing IVF and natural fertility programs. Pregnancy: Since ancient times Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to assist pregnant women from pre-conception to labour, post partum and beyond. Morning sickness is effectively relieved by acupuncture, acupressure, cupping and Chinese Herbs. As pregnancy progresses, Traditional Chinese Medicine provides a drug free treatment for back pain, oedema, carpal tunnel syndrome, restless leg syndrome and assists in the general well being of both the expectant mother and child. Labour: Acupuncture and acupressure prepare the mother and baby for a smooth labour by unblocking energy around the uterus, sacrum, and birth canal. Inserting fine needles and performing moxibustion on the hands and feet may prevent excessive bleeding, as well as turning breech positioned babies and calming the mother and child. Breastfeeding: Specific acupuncture points on the hands and feet used in combination with Traditional Chinese Herbal formulae increase productivity and quality of milk supply, encourage the ?let down response? and provide fast relief of mastitis, without depending on antibiotics (which pass via the milk adversely affecting the child). Children?s unique constitution: When treating children using Traditional Chinese Medicine, some basic points about children’s constitution need to be observed:
- Weak Qi (life force): Children’s qi and blood is not yet ?full? ? their organs, skin, hair, muscles, flesh, sinews, bones, brain and marrow are still developing. For this reason they need to be treated differently to adults with gentle techniques and low herbal doses.
- Pure Yang: Children are pure yang as their yin and yang are not yet integrated, and yin is therefore unable to control yang. They easily become hyperactive and develop “evil heat”.
- Rapid Disease Progression: Pathogens easily “invade” children’s lungs, spleen and liver and they also quickly return to health.
Diet Therapy: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, children under the age of six have a weak/immature digestive system and for this reason it is important not to over feed them. The Chinese have long believed in diet therapy with many herbal recipes treating common ailments handed down from generation to generation. The ideal child?s diet consists of simple, bland food ? mainly vegetables and grains and definitely not artificial ingredients or sugars which adversely affect the liver qi, leading to hyperactivity and leaving their bodies open to pathogenic invasion. Tui Na (Chinese Medical Massage): Chinese medical massage, known as Tui Na, is a gentle and beneficial treatment for children practiced in China since the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). Due to children?s qi being relatively clear and untainted, even a light touch may produce positive healing effects. Basic tui na can be used in every home to treat colic, assist brain development, calm the nervous system and encourage bonding. Healthy Children with Chinese Herbal Medicine: Children respond well to Traditional Chinese herbal therapy. For millennia, billions of Chinese families have prepared herbs to heal their families. The good news is that Chinese herbs are very economical and some are found right in our backyards. Mint, dandelion, marigolds, honeysuckle, mulberry leaves and even cicada shells are easy to find herbs used frequently in Chinese herbal medicine. Ancient herbal formulae have been adapted to our modern lifestyle with user friendly products available in the form of water soluble granules, free of preservatives or artificial colouring, and sweetened with stevia. These are available for children age 2-12 years via herbal companies such as Sun Herbal’s Red Peony Range. Every family could benefit from stocking up on these basic Traditional Chinese Medicine first aid formulae for “cooling”, “ear clear”, “dry nights”, “rash relief”, “chest clear”, “digestive tonic” and even a “calm and easy” formulae. Keeping a selection of patent formualae on hand ensures you are well prepared for treating common ailments quickly and safely. Antibiotic Honeysuckle Tea: The sweet gold and white flowers of the honeysuckle vine (Lonicera Japonica) can be made into an herbal antibiotic. A large handful of sun-dried honeysuckle flowers (approximately 5g) boiled into an anti bacterial tea will reduce high fevers and inflammation related to upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, food poisoning, measles, chicken pox, urinary tract infection, and mastitis. Dried honeysuckle flowers may also be applied externally as a poultice to treat infectious rashes, skin inflammations and sores. Honeysuckle flowers are an ingredient in many Chinese patent formulae available from modern herbal companies. Recommended reading: Journal of Chinese Medicine website www.jcm.co.uk
- Chinese Pediatric Massage by Kyle Cline
- Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children by Julian Scott
- A Handbook of TCM Paediatrics by Bob Flaws
- What Dads Can Do by Heather Bruce