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The Benefits of Acupuncture for Children

Acupuncture for children is becoming an increasingly common treatment for headaches, stomachaches, back pain, depression, and many other frequent health concerns.

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves puncturing the skin with very fine needles in specific areas of the body. The therapy is based on the theory that a specific form of energy flows throughout the body and travels in channels known as meridians. This energy is referred to as qi. When qi is unable to flow freely throughout the body, many forms of illness are thought to occur as a direct result. Acupuncture is believed to restore the flow of qi and once those energy flows have been restored, it is believed that good health will return.

A study into the effects of acupuncture for children was conducted by Yuan-Chi Lin, M.D., an anesthesiologist specializing in pediatric pain management at the Boston-based Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital. The study by Dr. Lin involved 243 children ranging between 6 months and 18 years of age. These children had sought acupuncture therapy for back pain, headaches, stomachaches and other chronic complaints that had led to them being absent from school. The children involved in the study rated the pain they experienced as being an eight out of 10, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable.

Dr. Lin’s year-long study found that the children who had received acupuncture therapy reported less pain, on average, than before treatment. The children now rated their average pain as a three out of 10, as opposed to an eight out of 10. The children also reported increased school attendance, improved sleep, and increased participation in extracurricular activities.

An earlier study involving 47 children at the same healthcare facility reported that 70 percent of patients benefited from pain relief as a result of acupuncture therapy. The majority of their parents agreed with this finding. The conditions for which the children were being treated with acupuncture included migraines, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and endometriosis in adolescent females. In this particular study, 15 of the participants were aged 12 years or under while 32 of the participants were between the ages of 13 and 20.

Recent research suggests that acupuncture may also be of benefit to children with amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye. One study involving 88 children between the ages of 7 and 13 years, all of whom had to wear corrective lenses due to amblyopia caused by either near- or farsightedness, proved successful. The children were split into two groups and were given different treatments. 42 percent of the children who received acupuncture therapy reported a resolution in their lazy eye following three months of therapy. Only 17 percent of children who simply wore a patch reported an improvement in their lazy eye.

Acupuncture for children has helped with a wide range of ailments, from headaches to the effects of ADHD, and is a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals that many parents do not want their children taking. Increasingly more parents are turning to acupuncture as an effective and necessary method of reestablishing and maintaining health within their children’s constitution.

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