By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - August 1, 2022
Categories: General

It’s August, and if your family is anything like mine, that means back-to-school season. That means buying school supplies, checking that clothes still fit, and trying to squeeze in a little more summer fun before our days fill up again and the weather turns cold. But it also means (or should mean) making sure our kids’ immune systems are prepared to handle the influx of germs they’re about to face!

Is that something TCM can help me with?

Of course! I wouldn’t be bringing it up if it weren’t. We’ve talked a lot in these blogs about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help to boost your immune system, but a lot of people don’t think about it as an option for their kids. But treatments like acupuncture, herbs, and cupping work just as well if you’re 2 or 80! 

I’m having a hard time imagining my kid sitting for 20 minutes filled with needles. 

Ok, so there are some differences between treating adults and treating kids. The good news is that children actually respond better and faster than adults to treatments. Their qi (energy) is still fresh and new, and is easy to influence in how it flows. Addressing imbalances through acupuncture is much quicker than doing it for adults (a few seconds to a few minutes to start), and typically we use fewer needles (probably starting with just 2-4). As they get used to it and figure out that it doesn’t hurt and can be pretty relaxing, we can ramp up treatments, if necessary. 

Ok… what about herbs? 

Herbs are also great for kids! If your kid is anything like mine, they’ve gone through a phase where it seems like they’ve got some kind of infection every other week (ear infections, anyone?). But I’m sure you’ve heard that putting them on antibiotics all the time is not a great solution. First of all, we’re starting to see more and more antibiotic resistant infections – meaning one day soon the antibiotics we use will stop working. Second, antibiotics can wreak absolute havoc on your natural gut biome, which leaves your kid more susceptible to other infections. 

I completely agree that there is a time and place for antibiotics, but in my opinion it’s best saved as a last resort. With herbal medicine, we’re able to gently bring your child’s systems back into balance. This alleviates symptoms they might be having, but also helps their own immune system to function at its best. AND it comes with fewer side-effects than most western medications. 

I like the sound of that. But what do kids need cupping for?

Kids may not be hitting spin class or throwing out their backs, but have you ever seen how much they move during the day? My kid has probably worked more muscles before I’ve had my coffee than I do in an entire day! Add growing pains to that, and it’s pretty easy to see that those little muscles can definitely get sore. 

But beyond the muscular benefits to cupping, it’s also great for getting any stagnant lymph or qi moving again, and clearing out any toxins that may have built up. This allows the immune system to do its job – focusing on invading germs, rather than trying to figure out what to do with the junk that doesn’t belong but isn’t actively attacking them. Plus, have you ever seen me do cupping? It’s super cool – practically like a magic trick. It won’t be too hard to talk your kid into giving it a shot. 

Alright, I’m convinced. But what exactly does Traditional Chinese Medicine treat in kids?

We’ve already talked about how it’s great for building up their immune system before they’re surrounded by germs at school, but Traditional Chinese Medicine can also help to reduce the length of and complication from illness that they do catch. Here are a few of the common ailments we can help your child manage:

  • Flu
  • Runny nose
  • Constipation
  • Stomach Aches
  • Poor appetite
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Sleep issues

I’m in. But is there anything I can do on my own to keep my kids healthy?

Definitely! Here are a few things you can focus on with your kids that will help them stay healthy outside of their Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments:

  1. Don’t eat or drink a lot of cold foods and beverages. This one sounds weird to most Westerners, (especially in the August heat), but cold foods require a lot more work from your digestive system. Since kids’ digestive systems are still developing, this can result in tummy troubles.
  2. Try to get them a balanced diet. This can be hard if you’ve got picky eaters, but it’s important to pay attention to what they’re eating to make sure you’re not missing any important nutrients. It’s ok if your kids don’t eat all the food groups every day, as long as they’re balancing out over the course of a few days or a week. 
  3. Rest. This one is also hard if your little ones are as energetic as mine. But it’s really important to make sure that your kids are getting enough sleep. This means enforcing a bed time, and eliminating night-time distractions that might keep them awake. 
  4. Exercise. This one is pretty easy when they’re little, and gets a bit harder once they discover tablets and tv. But getting outside even just for a walk around the block can boost all those happy hormones that strengthen the immune system. 

If your kid is suffering from stomach issues, allergies, or anything else we’ve discussed here, don’t hesitate to give me a call! I know sometimes we hesitate to turn to alternative solutions when it comes to our children, but I’m happy to talk through any fears you might have! And luckily, with the lack of unfortunate side effects from TCM, you don’t have much to lose trying it. And you could stand to gain a school year WITHOUT constant illness!