Acupuncture for Children


I saw Jack for acupuncture when he was three years old. I had been treating his mother very successfully for facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia) and anxiety, and she wondered if acupuncture could be used for young children. Jack’s problems were allergies (with a lot of mucus), ear infections, and runny nose. He had had pneumonia at least twice in his short life, and had been on several rounds of antibiotics.

Jack’s mom developed toxemia during the pregnancy and labor was induced at about 37 weeks. The baby went into distress and an emergency Caesarian was performed. There was concern about various issues and Jack had a fever, so they put him on antibiotics.

Jack recovered and things were fine for three months while mom breast-fed him. When they switched to dairy formula he couldn’t tolerate it (projectile vomiting, colic, gas), nor could he tolerate a soy formula.

At nine months Jack developed a runny nose and ear infections. He was taken for chiropractic treatment and was fine after that for many months.

At 18 months Jack went through a particularly bad allergy season and the allergens affected him terribly. For a month he experienced bad ear infections and a bad runny nose with a significant amount of mucus. There was so much mucus that it would also drain down his throat causing him to cough which then caused him to throw up. This happened frequently with meals. 

At about 21 months tubes were put in his ears, and the ear infections improved. He did continue, however, to have some trouble with allergies and runny nose with occasional coughing with vomiting.

A month before Jack turned three he developed pneumonia (with fever and coughing with vomiting). He was treated with antibiotics and the condition improved.

At age 3˝ he developed an ear infection, eye infection, tonsillitis, fever, runny nose, and his old symptom of coughing with vomiting due to the mucus drainage down his throat. He was put on antibiotics. A week and a half later he saw the doctor again. The ears were still infected and he was put on 14 more days of antibiotics. As soon as he finished that course of treatment (the next day) he again developed fever, coughing from mucus, and ear infections. When they took him to the doctor that week (the week before I saw him), x-rays showed pneumonia and he was put on a different antibiotic. 

When he came in for acupuncture treatment the next week he was improving, but still had the runny nose and some coughing (sometimes with vomiting).

In Chinese medicine Dampness (which can manifest as mucus or phlegm) can actually be caused by repeated bouts of antibiotics. (It can also develop due to immunizations, poor eating habits, and many common childhood foods including milk, cheese, bananas, peanut butter, and orange juice.) The Qi of the Spleen is responsible for controlling Dampness. When the Spleen is week, Dampness can manifest and cause many problems.

Jack’s problems really started when he was born. He experienced a great deal of stress at birth, which was induced early – so his lungs and his digestive system were not fully developed (at least from an energetic point of view).

Since the Qi of his Spleen and Lungs was not strong enough to control Dampness, and with the addition of the antibiotics immediately after birth, it is no wonder he developed excessive mucus problems! The repeated courses of antibiotics throughout his life only served to exacerbate the underlying problem. His symptoms and his history made perfect sense from a Chinese Medical perspective.

When I met Jack he was a very energetic, happy, and quite active and extraverted fiery red-head, which indicated a strong core of Qi in him despite signs of deficiency (dark circles under his eyes, pale face, and the excessive mucus production). My goal with treatment was to strengthen his Lung and Spleen Qi and clear Dampness.

Prior to my seeing him his typical pattern was the constant runny nose and several times a week vomiting from coughing from so much mucus, usually with eating.

After his first visit, which involved treatment with small magnets taped to specific acupuncture points, stimulation of the Qi with the “shoni shin” device (a small pronged instrument used for lightly “combing” the skin at the points) and use of essential oils, he had no more vomiting from phlegm. When I saw him for his third treatment (not quite a month after his first), he’d not only had no bouts of vomiting, but his runny nose was virtually a thing of the past. He’d had a slight runny nose the day after being in the pool, but previously being in the pool caused excessive nasal discharge.

It would have been good for Jack to do a longer course of weekly treatments, but circumstances didn’t allow for that. I did see him a month after his third visit for a single treatment – he either had a cold or a recurrence of the allergies (his mom wasn’t sure which) and was having a bit of runny nose and slight cough. He still had had no vomiting since his first treatment, and the dark circles under his eyes were gone.

I saw him one more time about 6 weeks later. His mom reported that he had been doing great until a very recent very high pollen count. The day she called he had thrown up at breakfast and then threw up his lunch. He then said to his mom: “Call Lisa!” He knew how much the treatments helped him.

Jack’s family has since moved away from the area. It is clear, however, even from only five treatments that acupuncture was extremely effective in helping to resolve Jack’s condition.

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