Acupuncture for Kids. Is it possible?

Acupuncture for Kids. Is it possible?

The short answer is – yes, it is! In fact, acupuncture for kids works surprisingly well.

Here at Treat Norwich, we have a paediatric acupuncture specialist, Liz Douglas, who works with children and young people. In this week’s blog we speak to Liz to find out how acupuncture can help young people and the ways of working with children that will reassure them about the process.

Why Chose Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the ancient practice of Chinese Medicine which has a long history dating back thousands of years. Contrary to belief, acupuncture uses very thin needles (nothing like those used in medicine) that are inserted superficially into various acupuncture points around the body’s meridians.

These work to unblock any disturbance in the flow of energy known as Qi (pronounced chee), which could be causing health problems. The main goal of acupuncture is to help restore balance back to the body, stimulating healing and promoting relaxation. Paediatric acupuncture has been practised for many years, and in recent times it’s been gaining popularity in the West, too.

It's actually a really effective, and natural, way to treat children for a number of complaints. It’s a subject Liz feels incredibly passionately about. That’s partly because of the incredible results she sees working with children. We asked Liz to explain more, she said, “Children are so new and vital that they require very little invention compared to us as adults. Their Qi changes so quickly and I am constantly amazed at how effective treatment is for them”.

The Surprising Effects of Acupuncture on Children…

People are often a little surprised that children can be treated with acupuncture and so we thought we’d provide some clarity on this. Liz explains, “Often in young children especially, only one or two very fine needles are used and would not be retained. For very young children I also use Tui Na Massage as a way of treating the channels so needles may not be needed at all, and these techniques can be shown to parents to use at home”.

When Children Have a Fear of Needles

Some children may still feel some resistance in needles and in these instances, Liz can also use ‘press seeds’ and tiny ‘press needles’ instead of using needles on those that are more fearful. Treatment is very much focused on making the child comfortable, building rapport and ensuring they have an enjoyable experience”.

Can you Help Infants and Babies?

People are often surprised when we tell them you can give acupuncture to a child as young as a new-born. The techniques used are very gentle that often children have no idea a needle has been tapped a needle in and out. Often for young children and babies it may be just one or two needles, which are very fine, and only inserted superficially or held in for a few seconds – it’s over before they realise what’s happened.

Making The Experience Fun

Liz makes the experience fun, as children are inquisitive naturally. For young children, she will usually have a chat on the phone with the parent before the treatment to minimise the length of time the child is expected to spend in the treatment room.

What are the Alternatives?

Other than using extra fine needles designed for infants and children or else trying some of the other techniques we’ve mentioned - such as ‘press seed’ - Liz may also use Tui Na massage - a gentle and very specific selection of movements and points applied by fingertips - and cleverly integrates a mother's natural instinct of stroking her child. Liz often coaches Mums, teaching them some basic moves to try at home.

Cupping is another way to work with children. Liz uses small silicone cups to help move any stagnation in the body, such as in the abdomen region. Unlike when treating adults, the cups are not left on for very long, so they won’t leave any marks. Children love the popping noise of the cups when they are releases – and which we refer to as “fish kisses”. This can be a great remedy in treating constipation.

Vaccinations Are Very Different to Acupuncture

A child’s first experience of a needle is usually from a vaccination or blood test. For some children, not all, associations with needles may therefore conjure up some worry. This is perfectly natural for some. However, reassuringly acupuncture is a very different experience, and in fact, a gentle acupuncture session can actually reinforce positivity around needles for children to reduce fear of needles in the future. Babies and infants can be treated while feeding or having cuddles. Whereas, many toddlers enjoy playing or having a giggle using some special magic (reassuring) words.

Common Conditions Where Acupuncture Can Help Children

Paediatric acupuncture can work for almost anything…sleep disorders, skin conditions (eczema etc), bedwetting, growing pains, headaches and migraines, anxiety, digestive complaints, emotional or behavioural changes, post viral syndromes, recurrent infections – tonsillitis, ear conditions, asthma, cough, allergies and food intolerances. Acupuncture is great for whole body wellbeing and bringing the mind and body back into balance.

We always advise seeking acupuncture before a symptom becomes chronic and that it is wonderful as a preventative measure in health and wellness. Treating children works very much in that way.

About Liz:

Liz has a Bsc in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine from the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (Reading). She specialises in paediatric acupuncture and undertook further training (Diploma in Paediatric acupuncture), which allows her to apply her skills to anyone of any age, including new-born babies and young children. Liz is also a proud member of the regulatory body The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) and holds a full acupuncture license.

To book an appointment with Liz: