Long before Western medicine started the specialty of pediatrics, traditional Chinese medicine recognized the unique “Qi” of children. TCM understands the fragile nature of both the anatomy and the life force of infants and children, and has modified its modalities accordingly. In addition, there are TCM protocols that have been developed to specifically treat the ailments typical of childhood.
The most common TCM practice used to treat children is Tui Na, in combination with other forms of therapeutic or acupressure massage. Other modalities typically used on adults, such as acupuncture, are not as effective on children and are rarely used. This is because in the theory and practice of TCM, the system of meridians that control Qi flow, and are used as acupuncture points, are not fully mature until the age of puberty.
Rather than specific meridians, pediatric Tui Na is applied to “reflex zones” on the infant or child’s torso and limbs. As in adults, Tui Na massage stimulates energy flow, removes toxins, and improves the immune response. As such, Tui Na massage can be very effective in treating allergies, respiratory disorders, gastric distress, and other autoimmune type conditions that are common in children.
In most cases a TCM acupressure massage for children takes around 20 minutes and is usually performed while your child is fully clothed. Pediatric Tui Na is soothing and relaxing, and when done correctly, will never cause your child any pain or discomfort. Pediatric Tui Na massage is used for children up to about the age of 10 or 12 – but research has shown that the techniques are more effective the younger the child is. In TCM tradition this is believed to be because the younger a child is they are more Yin, and therefore, more open to the influence of outside forces. It is only as we get older we become more Yang – and begin to exert our independence.