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Are acupuncture and herbal medicine appropriate for children?

Are acupuncture and herbal medicine appropriate for children?

Acupuncture is safe and non-invasive compared to surgery and other Western techniques, and it strengthens children while being free from the weakening side-effects of drugs.  Children respond quickly to acupuncture and herbal medicine therapy, and it is holistic and curative rather than merely symptomatic or palliative. In this country, acupuncture hasn't often been used to treat children, mainly because they tend to be afraid of needles.

Study on Children and Acupuncture

Several studies suggest that this fear can be overcome and that children can benefit from acupuncture treatment. In one study conducted at Children’s Hospital in Boston and published in Pediatrics (Volume 105(4) supplement of April 2000), 70% of children who used acupuncture said the treatment had helped their symptoms. Needles used on children are very thin, about a quarter of the diameter of the regular 22-gauge needles to which most have been exposed.

Children and the Acupuncture Treatment

I begin by not assuming that the child is afraid of needles (this may be particularly true with unvaccinated children), and I take time to carefully explain the process and demonstrate it on a toy or an adult. Once a child is amenable, he or she is usually surprised to find that the discomfort is minimal to none. Even babies can receive acupuncture and usually exhibit no signs of discomfort but only curiosity in wanting to play with the needles.  While some children respond better if parents are not present in the room, others prefer to sit in a parent’s lap during treatment.

Needle-free Options

If acupuncture is not appropriate for a particular child, a needle-less technique is available using either electro-stimulation or shonishin.  An electro-stimulation machine delivers very tiny pulses through a wand to acupuncture points chosen specifically for each child. Children report that it feels like a slight “tickle.”

Shonishin differs from standard acupuncture in that there is no piercing of the skin. This technique uses a variety of different metal implements to gently stimulate the meridians and acupuncture points to move qi where it is blocked and to strengthen the qi where it is weak and can be used for a variety of conditions:

  • Immune system boosting
  • Sinus congestion/sinusitis
  • Digestive disorders
  • Joint and muscular pain
  • Recovery from injuries
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
About Vickii Gervais, L.Ac.

Vickii Gervais graduated with a Master’s of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego and is a Licensed Acupuncturist in the State of California and also nationally certified as a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). As well as practicing acupuncture and herbal medicine, Vickii is a Licensed Midwife with the California Medical Board and a lactation consultant formerly IBCLE-certified. She has attending homebirths for 19 years and believe a peaceful, gentle birth experience helps create stronger families and healthier individuals for our future.

Vickii is the clinic director of Wild Harmony Wellness in San Diego, CA.  She is dedicated to providing caring, comprehensive natural healthcare through acupuncture, herbal medicine, midwifery and therapeutic massage. She integrates knowledge of Western and Eastern philosophies to offer healthcare for the whole family from conception onward. She specializes in women’s health, pediatrics and adolescents.

"I believe that a significant amount of our physical strife manifests from internalization of emotional and psychological disharmony, so I incorporate work in those areas as well. You don’t have to be unwell or have pain to enjoy acupuncture’s relaxing, balancing effects; regular treatments help to boost the immune system and prevent ill health as well."

Learn more about Vickii Gervais

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