Acupuncture for All!!
Many times when we think of getting acupuncture we think about it for ourselves, very rarely do we think it can be beneficial for our little ones, from birth to infant to toddler to school aged kids…Its good for everyone! As we grow older our Qi, our Flow, our movements change. At birth things move very quickly. The formation of new neurons and synapses are fastest at birth, hence why babies and toddlers learn so fast compared to adults. At birth the brain has already grown to 25% of the adult brain, by the age of 3 the brain has grown to 80% of the adult’s size. (https://www.adam-mila.com/brain-development-children-0-6-years/). So, in Traditional Chinese Medicine we also se the movement of Qi to be just a s fast, infants who develop acute digestive issues can be helped with one or two treatments, vs adults who would need a course of about 7-10 to get things back on track. Most commonly we see infants/toddlers with acute cases and we see them once or twice and voila there are in a much happier mood, sleep much better and gain weight accordingly. In TCM our most common conditions treated in infants are colic, fever, cough and vomiting. As they grow older, we move into treating the common cold, fever, cough, headache and digestive issues.
In infants the digestive system is immature and fragile. They can be affected by over eating, eating to many cold foods or foods that can be too rich (fatty, sugary foods). An example could be Cow’s milk, in TCM is it considered very rich and fatty for an immature digestive.
Colic is the bane of many new parents. It refers to inconsolable, extended crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy and well-fed. Of course, every baby cries, but babies who cry for more than three hours a day, three to four days a week, commonly have colic. Approximately 20 percent of babies develop colic, and it affects both boys and girls equally, as well as first-born children and those born later. In general, it appears at around two to four weeks of age and can last for three months or longer in some cases.
Another very common complaint I get from parents is that their baby is ‘colicky’. A word that is only used in the Western world and, is something that is different to every infant, but also very similar…they cry and cry and cry! A standard pattern for colic is the crying begins in the late afternoon or early evening (sometimes known as the witching hour), but this time is doesn’t stop, nothing works, no matter how hard we try. So, we as parents do whatever we can, that usually involves movement (pacing the house, driving the car, bike rides etc.).
Within the Western world there is no treatment for colic (some try Gripe water, Tylenol, etc.) with little to no success. That is where TCM comes to the RESCUE! We have a large selection of remedies that are highly tested and have been used for thousands of years. As a mother of Two (under Two years of age) I can assure you they work.
As a TCM/Acupuncturist I like to/need to meet the baby and parents to be able to diagnose properly, we look at your baby’s skin colour, their fingers and toe nails, to see the colour. We use very gentle touch to assess the babies skin and warmth, then we move to the abdomen, which in commonly hard and distended in colicky babies. From there I move to the space between the eyebrows and assess the colour there, if its blue, then there has been or there currently is stress in the stomach and or spleen. Lastly, the index finger is looked at, there is a vein that is very obvious in infants and if it is protruding, pulsing or dark then there is a blockage in the stomach/intestines. Once this is all done, usually take about 2-5 minutes (babies don’t sit for too long) I talk with the parents and discuss lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns. This all helps us determine if your baby is actually colicky or if there is something else going on. For this, we will stay on topic and continue in the type of colic your baby may be experiencing. There are two types of colic in TCM Hot and Cold Colic. Hot colic, babies are more restless, tend to cry more aggressively, red faced, hot hands/feet. This type of colic is most commonly found in North America. Cold Colic, baby is weaker, whines all the time, pale colour, with cold hands/feet and a white/blue ting in the nail beds.
As a TCM/acupuncturist I can offer my best advice, teach the parent how to do belly massage, use some acupressure points to help calm and relax the stomach, help to release gas (and no it’s not just doing bicycle legs, it helps, but there needs to be more then just that)
Generally, the TCM practitioner will first adjust the baby’s diet. This means putting the child on a feeding schedule and/or taking the child off hard-to-digest foods.
The practitioner will also instruct the parents how to massage their baby’s abdomen in order to move the stagnant food down and out. This is often all that is necessary to get rid of colic. TCM is a very effective alternative to some harsh medications, and it can drastically reduce any sign/symptom of colic with a couple of days, and totally clear it of the body in a week.