Acupuncture For Children
I was listening to NPR recently and there was a story about MD’s prescribing Nexxium to babies for spitting up, even though some breast-feeding moms have found that eliminating dairy, gluten, and soy from their diet makes a huge difference with this problem. It is upsetting to us when our children are sick, but giving them prescription drugs which have only been tested on adults (“off-label use”) seems pretty crazy to me. What are the side effects? (intestinal inflammation in the short term, we don’t know about the long term effects!). What is the proper dosage? and of course, who profits? (one guess - Big Pharmaceutical companies).
On the same day, I came across Rosie Pope’s recent blog post about Acupuncture for Children. Why not try alternative medicine for your babies, first, instead of giving them pharmaceuticals? Acupuncture is good for reflux in adults, and there are very few side effects (mostly benign).
HOLY MOLY – ACUPUNCTURE FOR WEE ONES
Posted on 11/07/2011
I recently sat down with Jill Blakeway, a licensed acupuncturist and board certified herbalist. Jill is the Clinical Director of the YinOva Center here in NYC and is the coauthor of “Making Babies: A Proven Three Month Program for Maximum Fertility”.
I have always been curious about non-traditional treatments for myself. But hadn’t really considered them for my boys and when I found out Jill not only treats older kids, but babies with acupuncture, I thought, “holy moly” have I got some questions for her and Jill was happy to sit down with me and answer them.
(Rosie) With kids what types of things can you treat with acupuncture?
(Jill) At our center, we use acupuncture to treat people of all ages including tiny babies and young children. Many Moms are understandably apprehensive about subjecting their little ones to a treatment that involves needles but acupuncture, performed by an experienced practitioner, involves very little pain and can be surprisingly effective.
Obviously acupuncture is not a replacement for conventional pediatric care but it can be a really useful adjunctive treatment and sometimes it works when nothing else seems to. In this article from Babble.com a Mom talks about the miraculous effect acupuncture had on her 2- year-old boy’s eczema, after conventional treatments had failed to help. It’s just this kind of case that has made the medical profession take note. Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston have been using acupuncture for some time and conducted research into its benefits. 70% of children who took part in the study said acupuncture did indeed help their symptoms. 55% of their parents agreed. Only one child said acupuncture worsened his symptoms.
The youngest patient I’ve ever treated was 2 weeks old and was suffering from colic. Her Mom was thrilled and that same little girl is now 8 years old and regularly receives acupuncture for various ailments. I find acupuncture works well for digestive problems including acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea and gas. I sometimes use a gentle herbal formula to supplement the treatment and often liaise with the patient’s pediatrician to develop a holistic treatment plan.
One area where acupuncture really works well is in treating repeated ear infections. Some children suffer terribly with this and end up taking antibiotics over and over until their doctors suggest a procedure to permanently place a tube in the child’s eardrum. Acupuncture is not a replacement for antibiotics if a child has an active infection but regular acupuncture between infections can stop the cycle and prevent reoccurrence.
I also use acupuncture to address respiratory problems such as repeated colds, asthma and allergies. And, many moms are surprised that we even can successfully treat behavioral problems like tantrums and hyperactivity.
If you are thinking about using acupuncture for your child and want to know what its like, this video on our website shows me treating some children and includes an interview with a Mom.
(Rosie) Do you really give babies acupuncture?
(Jill) Yes I do! I treat tiny babies with colic, toddlers with earaches, children with asthma and teenagers with acne (to name but a few).
(Rosie) How do they stay still long enough?
(Jill) They don’t! I don’t make them lie on the table with needles in like I would an adult. Instead I treat them sitting on their parent’s knees and I only leave the needles in for a few seconds.
(Rosie) Does it hurt them?
(Jill) Not usually! The needles are very thin and hair-like and most children don’t feel them at all. If they are scared I don’t use needles at all but opt for a machine that stimulates the skin painlessly. The kids call it the Tickle Machine.
(Rosie) Does it work?
(Jill) Yes (often)! Obviously it’s not a replacement for seeing your child’s pediatrician. Acupuncture does not work for every problem but it can be a safe, gentle way of addressing common childhood disorders.
(Rosie) Is it dangerous?
(Jill) In the hands of a qualified practitioner acupuncture is very safe. The needles are sterile and the puncture is very superficial.
(Rosie) How would someone find a pediatric acupuncturist if they aren’t in NYC and can’t see you?
(Jill) All acupuncturists are licensed by the state they practice in so you can find out if an acupuncturist has a license by contacting your state’s Office of the Professions. Many, but not all, acupuncturists are board-certified by the NCCAOM. You can search for a board certified acupuncturist in your area on their website. Not all practitioners treat children so it’s worth calling and asking if they do and if so, how they trained. Most pediatric acupuncturists will have had postgraduate training beyond their M.S. In Chinese medicine.
The cases Jill references and the information I’ve heard from friends has me even more intrigued, but I’m not sure that I’m a convert. What do you think about acupuncture and other non-traditional treatments for kids? Which ones have you tried?