Written by: Heather Falkenbury, L.Ac.
I started learning more about pediatric acupuncture, which is not a focus in most acupuncture school curriculum, after having children. Correction, I really started trying to learn more about pediatrics after my son was born, my colicky son. I wanted to be able to help him feel better, and I wanted to not have to comfort and bounce him an average of 8 hours a day, I wanted to sleep again, and I wanted to give my 2-year-old daughter some attention too! He didn’t respond to any diet changes that I made, or to gripe water, nor to craniosacral therapy, or any other comfort measures this sleep-deprived momma tried in vain! So I tried acupuncture, and it helped!
If you are a parent, or have had close contact with children, you will have observed that they are quick to get sick, and quick to get better. One minute they are running around, playing, and the next they are lethargic, feverish, and puking down your back. If they are a healthy child though, they are usually running around playing again in no time.
So this is why acupuncture for kids is not scary, it doesn’t take much to help them to feel better! A.K.A. they do not need many acupuncture needles during a treatment! Their little bodies only need a gentle nudge towards balance and a boost to their immune system to help them to heal. Heal without drugs, antibiotics, Tylenol, ect. ***Of course there is a time and a place for trips to the doctor and antibiotics. But if your child has a viral head cold, for example, acupuncture can be a great treatment option.
Here is a list of reasons why Acupuncture for kids is not scary
1. I refrain from using language that may be “scary”, and encourage parents to do the same. Acupuncture needles are called “taps” in the office (because the needles are “tapped” in). Words like poke, needle, puncture, pinch, ect are avoided.
2. We use only a few needles per treatment. The number of needles usually increases with the age of the child. For example a 6-month-old may only get one or two “taps” during a session.
3. In young (squiggly) kiddos I usually do a quick “in-and-out” insertion. The needles are not retained. (no, your 3-month-old will not have to sit still with 50 needles poking out of him for 30 minutes!)
4. The needles we use on kids are very small! At my office, I use high quality, small gauge Japanese needle. These needles are the thickness of a strand of hair!
5. Needles are only one treatment option! There are many other ways that we can do “acupuncture” on kids. Techniques include acupressure, acutonics/tuning forks, sho ni shin “non-insertive” Japanese acupuncture (which involves gentle “scraping” or pressing on acupuncture points and energy channels), superficial electrical stimulation, tui na (massage), dietary suggestions, and herbal medicine.
6. It is typically painless. Babies usually do not react when needles are inserted = it doesn’t hurt.
7. Kids are interested! The older kids even think acupuncture is “cool”, which it is. They want to see the needles, they even ask for more points, and they want to take pictures on their cell phones and post them to Facebook!
8. I don’t do anything that the parent or child is uncomfortable with.
A graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, Heather Falkenbury received her Masters degree in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine in 2006. Heather has also completed an intensive course study of Chinese Herbal medicine at Chengdu’s College of Traditional Medicine in China. She is nationally certified by the NCCAOM for acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. In 2010, Heather completed course work to become a certified Holistic Doula.
In recent years, and after having two children, Heather has focused her clinical studies on pediatric acupuncture. She has completed over 100 hours of continuing education in Pediatrics. She has studied pediatric acupuncture and herbology with Robin Green, L.Ac., and Shonishin (non-needle Japanese style) Acupuncture as well. Heather loves working with kids and parents to help children get and stay healthy with natural and drug-free treatments.