Children and Acupuncture

Children and Acupuncture

As Chinese Medicine gains greater following in Ireland, more parents are becoming interested in the treatment of their children with this Ancient Medicine.

Watching children being sick is difficult for parents and the idea of finding natural options to restore their children?s health is very appealing, however there are some concerns that are usually presented to us as Chinese Medicine Practitioners.

First of all, parents will question the safety of a procedure they associate with needles and the need to remain still for lengthy periods of time. Secondly, if they have not used acupuncture themselves, they feel unsure of exactly how it could benefit their child.

Chinese Medicine has been used in the treatment of children for centuries, and, as it turns out Pediatrics is one of the medicines best specialties, with many studies coming out of China and Germany.

A review of Paediatric acupuncture safety was published in the international journal, Paediatrics in December 2011. This study found that acupuncture is perfectly safe for children when performed by a qualified practitioner.

A study on this subject was conducted at the Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital in Boston by Yuan-Chi Lin, M.D., an anesthesiologist who specialises in pain management in children. Dr. Lin’s study included 243 children ranging in age from six months to 18 years who were being treated for headaches, stomachaches, back pain and other chronic complaints that often caused them to miss school. When the study began, the young patients rated their average pain as an “eight” on a scale of one to ten. When the year- long study was over, the average pain rating among the children was a “three.” The kids also reported missing less school, sleeping better, and being more able to participate in extracurricular activities as a result of treatment.

Yuan-Chi Lin, MD, director of the Medical Acupuncture Service said:

“The goal in my clinic is to decrease children?s pain and symptoms so that they may participate in activities at school, in sports and with their peers,”

Another study in the University of Washington and Seattle Children?s Hospital concludes that acupuncture is “safe, well tolerated, and therapeutic” for the treatment of infants. This study highlights the importance of minimising an infant?s exposure to sedatives and pain medications in the hospital setting. The goal is to reduce the neurotoxic effects of medications and improve outcomes when infants undergo both intensive and invasive medical procedures.

In Ireland, some of the cases we see in our clinics are:

* ADHD * Anxiety * Bowel Syndrome * Cystic Fibrosis * Eczema * Migraines * Nightmares
* Allergies * Asthma * Bedwetting * Earache * Headaches * Muscle pain * Tonsillitis

Generally speaking, the diagnosis of children follows the same principal as those for adults: look, hear, ask and feel but there are some important differences that, as practitioners, we should be aware.

The first simple difference is that during the diagnosis we might rely more on what we see, and feel rather than what we hear. It is common for a child?s appearance to be an accurate representation of what is really going on.

More important differences are for instance that the spleen is always deficient on newborn babies and that is why children are extremely prone to digestive problems.

Shen is also immature and we see it in children all the time. We see behaviours in children that in an adult would be considered as a mental illness.

Finally, children don?t have the mixed pathology that adult have which makes the treatment very effective and very rewarding.

Giovanni Maccicia describe children constitutional types as follows:



Flaccid muscle alongside the spine, weakness of spleen, digestive problems, vomiting, diarrhoea, sallow complexion, quiet child, thin body or fat body (if has phlegm) when new- born gets thinner after a month. This constitution can be due to mother?s diet or overwork during pregnancy or hereditary.



White complexion, fearful, shy, prone to colds, whooping, cough, asthma-eczema, thin chest, Lung crack on tongue. This constitution can be due to mother affected by sadness, grief during pregnancy or hereditary.

Bluish tinge forehead, fearful, restless sleep, crying at night, heart crack on the tongue, tense child, body hot, red eyes, red cheeks, hyper active ( or opposite, cold hands pale complexion) tongue has red tip During pregnancy, mother eats wind producing foods ( mushrooms and spinach) which dry out blood and weaken heart. Or mother has shock during pregnancy.

Serious child, Myopia from early age, headaches from early age, very tense child, sinewy body, wiry pulse, enuresis ( only from liver- fire), restless sleep, twitching in sleep, screaming in sleep, hungry. Mother is angry during pregnancy, emotional upset. Also hereditary

Weak child. Nocturnal enuresis, child without energy, lassitude, no drive, thin body, may be developing slowly asthma-eczema, headaches from early age, frequent urination, feeling cold. From parents Jing.

Some Tips to help you treat your little patients:

  • Spend time earning the child?s trust. Play while you ask some questions
  • Depending on the child?s age you might decide to do the treatment on the parents lap. It is suggested to do so if the child is less than 2 to 3 years old
  • For toddlers often treatment can be unnoticed by the child as they are being entertained by their parents.
  • Use small and hair fine needles or studs
  • Demonstrate needles on their toys
  • Demonstrate needles on your own hands/or Parents ( if they are familiar with the treatment)
  • Use acu pressure if necessary for the first or first few visits or special technique Shonishin, which does not involve needles .

Online Resources

Giovanni Maciocia Online Continuing
Healthcare Medicine
Boston Children?s Hospital –

Acupuncture in the treatment of Children- Julian Scott & Teresa Barlow

Why Zanar?

Because we address current symptoms and signs while working with the underlying cause of imbalance

Pain Management

Back, shoulder and neck pain, Sciatica, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Carpel,Tunnel Syndrome, Headache or Migraine, Arthritis.

Women’s Health

Pregnancy Related Conditions, Fertility, PMT, Painful Periods,Amenorrhea,Irregular Menstruation,Menopause.

Digestive Health

Nausea, IBS, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Gastritis, Food Allergies.

Emotional Disorders

Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Stress, Insomnia, Anger.

Respiratory Health

Asthma, Allergies, Sinusitis, Cough, Sore Throat, Colds/Flus, Rhinitis


Smoking, Food

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