TCM and Acupuncture: Improving Children’s Immune System
Acupuncture is part of an ancient medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is commonly used to treat a multitude of ailments in adults and is gaining popularity among pediatrics. There are licensed acupuncturists who specialize in treating children and are in high demand. These pediatric acupuncturists are helping children where others can’t and for many, it is lifesaving. Most kids, as well as a lot of adults, are afraid of needles. So the pairing of acupuncture and kids might not be an obvious one. However, more and more parents are seeking alternative methods of treatment for their children. This is because our conventional medical system is faltering a bit. Pharmaceuticals are proving to be more harmful than beneficial for many, especially kids. And with the bodies and brains of children still being developed, who can really blame a parent for wanting to find an alternative to drugs with adverse side effects? Parents are turning to acupuncture because it provides a safe resolution of illness, while also preventing future illnesses. This happens because acupuncture and acupressure stimulate the body’s ability to restore and heal itself. Our bodies are fully capable of fighting off disease and healing injuries when the right tools are provided. Acupuncture not only stimulates the immune system, but also relaxes the nervous system and regulates the digestive and hormonal systems. All of these things need to be in balance for the body to heal. Kids are more prone to getting sick because their immune systems are still being built. Children also tend to be more susceptible to bacteria and viruses because of their immature immune systems. For some kids, school can create added stress that taxes the immune system. There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to staying healthy. This is where TCM can be very beneficial.
TCM approaches illness and ailments from a very different angle. In TCM, wind is one of the six external pathogens that can invade the body and produce symptoms. The external pathogens responsible for the cold are seen as invasions of wind. The body is protected by something known as the Wei Qi (defensive Qi, pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi is comparable to the immune system in conventional medicine and acts as the first line of defense when the body is under attack from external pathogens. If the Wei Qi is strong, then the body is capable of fighting off invaders like viruses and bacteria. The Wei Qi keeps the pores of the skin closed and prevents wind from entering. There are specific acupressure points on the body that can help improve a child’s immune system. There are also other techniques that are used in TCM that may help, like gua sha or cupping. Both of these techniques stimulate blood flow and help remove toxins through the skin, which can boost immunity. Not only is acupuncture cost effective for treating children, but it is a logical approach to healing their illnesses.
Acupuncture Points Parents Can Use to Help Kids
Here are some acupressure points that can be used at home to help your kids with all kinds of problems.
Large Intestine 4 (LI 4) - Found along the large intestine energetic pathway, located between the webbing of the index finger and the thumb, on the mound of flesh created when the two fingers are held together. This point improves intestinal function and helps relieve constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Stomach 25 (ST 25) - Located two thumb-breadths away from the belly button on both the left and right sides. Stomach 25 is very useful for relieving diarrhea, constipation and other digestive/abdominal issues. This is another great pressure point to help your kids deal with that upset stomach.
Stomach 36 (ST36) - Located on the lateral side of the lower leg, about four finger-breadths from the lower border of the patella or kneecap. This point is considered an overall energy and immune-boosting point. It can help with digestive issues, such as diarrhea, which are sometimes associated with a cold or flu.
Yin Tang - Located directly between the inner ends of the eyebrows. This point is wonderful for relieving sinus pressure, curing watery eyes and decreasing stress, which may allow for better sleep. Many acupuncturists use the point in all their patients because of its calming effect. So, if you have a little one that can’t sleep, massaging this point can be very helpful.
Du 20 (D20) - Located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of your ears. This point is known as governing vessel 20 (GV 20). It is one of the most powerful points in the acupuncturists’ arsenal. It raises emotional energy, which in turn can help alleviate depression. Applying pressure or lightly tapping this point is a great way to counter depression on your own and it can be done pretty much anywhere. Depression is becoming more prevalent with children because of the lack of personal interaction and bullying.
Parents can massage these points or apply light pressure and help their kids in so many ways. Give these points a try the next time your kids are experiencing illness or emotional issues. Not only is it a great way to help them heal, but it also increases bonding with your kids, which is something every child needs.