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  • Dr. Kenn O'Connor

Oriental Medicine for Healthy Children

This article originally appeared in the July-August issue of Well-Being in Paradise

Oriental Medicine is more than needles

When talking about acupuncture, many children dread the thought of being stuck with needles. While acupuncture needles are very effective at treating children, there are many less invasive techniques available. Some modalities date back thousands of years, such as Tuina, a Chinese bodywork system, and herbal remedies, which are the basis for several modern pharmaceuticals. Another form of treatment, Shonishin, was specifically developed to treat children and utilizes various instruments to rub and tap the skin without penetration. A few modern tools, also incorporated into treatments, include cold lasers and micro-current stimulators, both of which are safe and painless.

Oriental Medicine treats many pathologies, with little to no side effects. Some of the most common pediatric issues are listed below:

Seasonal Allergies

Florida’s warm weather allows trees, plants, grasses, and flowers to pollinate throughout the year, while high humidity creates an environment that enables mold to thrive. Children’s immune systems often view these benign substances as pathogens and attack the allergen, which results in allergic symptoms. Symptoms that children typically experience are a runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, difficulty concentrating, and red circles under their eyes. Oriental Medicine is beneficial to relieve the symptoms of allergies as well as preventively supporting the immune system.

Colds and Flu

Colds and flu can strike at any time. A runny nose, sore throat, headache, coughing, or body aches will make children feel miserable and can keep them from their routine. Parents can end up missing work or activities to take care of the children, and with the average duration of a cold being 7-10 days, this is a significant amount of time for parents to provide ancillary care. Clinical studies have shown that Oriental Medicine reduces the length of colds and flu, and the sooner the child receives treatment after symptoms appear, the better the results. Oriental Medicine is also used preventively, strengthening the immune system to allow children to fight off pathogens more effectively.

Digestive Issues

Colic, reflux, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea are common digestive ailments in children. Changes in diet, types of food eaten, and stress can put tremendous strain on a child’s developing digestive system. Any time the digestive system is not working correctly, vital nutrition is not maximally absorbed and utilized. Nourishment is paramount in the growth and development of children. Stunted growth, intellectual development delays, psychological and emotional issues, and behavioral problems are all linked to improper diet. Oriental Medicine can help with all these difficulties, with dietary change recommendations typically accompanying treatment.

Ear Infections

Children of all ages get ear infections, but children under three years old are particularly susceptible to ear infections as their eustachian tubes, tubes that connect the middle ear to the nasal passages, are narrower and more horizontal than in adults. This anatomical difference allows secretions to block the passage and trap viruses or bacteria more easily. Some of the symptoms of infection are ear pain, a red, bulging eardrum, and hearing degradation. Infants cry, tug on their ear, may become cranky, and have difficulty sleeping. Oriental Medicine often helps with the infection and is excellent at mitigating pain. Sometimes, in the case of bacterial infections, antibiotics are necessary. Oriental Medicine can be utilized during the antibiotic treatment to remediate the pain, and after the antibiotics are finished to support a return to health.

Other Conditions

While not an exhaustive list, some other common ailments found in children that Oriental Medicine is helpful with are eczema, bedwetting, asthma, teething pain, ADD/ADHD, and autistic spectrum disorders.

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