3 Reasons Why Acupuncture is Great For Kids
A lot of people think acupuncture (yes, needles!) for kids does not exist. On the contrary, acupuncture works so well for so many childhood conditions. It is a great alternative to taking Western medications that can have side effects, and is a painless, relaxing treatment. While in acupuncture school, I did an internship at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. The acupuncture was a painless, safe, and effective treatment for nausea and side effects from chemotherapy, and the kids loved it! Needles aren’t scary, they are actually really tiny! Read on to find out why acupuncture can be great for your kid.
1) Boosts Immunity
Acupuncture helps strengthen the body’s immune system by promoting optimal health and supporting the highest level of functioning in children. It can assist in preventing and/or reducing the incidence of colds, flus, viruses, allergies, and asthma. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 2 million children have asthma and allergies and it is the top reason for missed school days. Children are continuously exposed to outside pathogens like bacteria and germs, which can compromise their immune systems and potentially cause them to get sick. Acupuncture is a non-invasive, drug-free, preventative option that helps kids stay healthy.
2 ) Relieves Pain
Acupuncture helps children perform at their best. It decreases pain by reducing inflammation, releasing endorphins, and helping increase circulation and blood flow. According to the a meta-analysis study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, acupuncture was found effective in treating pain as well as providing analgesic physiological effects. Whether your child is an athlete, musician, or one who gets too many bumps and bruises playing with friends, acupuncture can help promote recovery, muscle relaxation, and energy. It is even effective in treating symptoms from common childhood ailments like teething pain, earaches, migraines, conjunctivitis, tonsillitis, growing pains, PMS, as well as those less so common ones like CRPS, fibromyalgia, and eczema.
3) Balances Emotions
Acupuncture is well recognized for its effectiveness in balancing emotions and decreasing stress and anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 13% of children ages 8 to 15 have had a diagnosable mental disorder within the last year. Unbalanced emotions can feel scary and overwhelming in children. Stress and anxiety can even manifest in other parts of the body causing stomachaches, pain, dizziness, sleep issues, over or under-eating, and more. Acupuncture is calming and creates a natural release of endorphins (endogenous opiates that make you feel good) that can combat out-of-balance emotional states and help children feel happy. It is effective in treating symptoms from ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health and behavioral issues.
A Few Common Questions Answered…
* Does acupuncture hurt?
Nope! We use tiny needles that are about the size of a few hairs. You can barely feel the needles go in. Sometimes you can feel a sensation once they are in your body that can feel heavy or tingly, but most of the time you don’t feel the needles at all.
* Is kids acupuncture the same as an adult acupuncture treatment?
All acupuncture treatments are unique to the person being treated. In treatment, we thoroughly account for who you are right now and your health history. Typically, children are smaller and have more abundant yang energy so a “less is more” approach is often used in treatment. We also use smaller and thinner needles and retain them for less time or sometimes just do a quick insertion of the needle and then take it out.
* My child doesn’t want needles. Are there other options?
Acupuncture needles are just one of the many treatment modalities offered for children. If you aren’t sure you want to try acupuncture needles, we can use acupressure, massage, seeds, magnets, as well as cupping, gua sha (light scraping of the skin to release heat and toxins), and linaments. All of these are alternatives to acupuncture needles that are just as effective in children. Often, once children become comfortable with these other forms of treatment and build trust with their acupuncturist, they are more open to trying the needles.
* What can acupuncture for kids treat ?
So many things! A few common conditions are …
- Cold/Flu/Sinus & Ear Infections
- Digestive Issues (Constipation, Stomach Aches, Nausea, etc…)
- Night terrors/Bed-wetting/Sleep
- Hormonal Imbalances/PMS
When looking for a licensed acupuncturist, also ask if they have experience treating children. Not all acupuncturists treat kids, so it’s important to do some research to find someone who is compatible with you and your child. Hopefully they enjoy acupuncture and continue with a holistic lifestyle as they grow into adults. One of the things I love so much about this medicine is that it teaches body awareness, which is a valuable skill to learn at a young age, and will carry with you throughout life.
Best in Health,
Mariel Gallet, DACM, L.Ac.