Acupuncture for a Healthy Autumn

I hope you had a lovely summer filled with sunshine, family, and good health. Autumn has begun, the kids are back in school, and most of us are going to be working hard for the next several months. Now is a great time to take a quick break to assess your state of health. Start by taking three slow, steady breaths — in through your nose, out through your mouth. Do you notice any tension in your body? Perhaps you feel a tightness in your upper back, or a low-grade headache. Do you notice a need to rush through these breaths? How else do you feel? Are you sleeping soundly through the night? How is your digestion? Are you able to focus and concentrate on your tasks each day?

While is rather common to ignore signs of tension or illness, taking a proactive approach to your well-being has many benefits. I have found that maintaining health and wellness is easier than working hard to achieve this state once illness has set in. If your body is showing signs of fatigue or tension, be sure to listen. Take a look at what you are eating, get yourself to bed an hour earlier tonight, get some light exercise, and by all means, get some acupuncture.

Happy Autumn!
Holly<

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A Child’s Pain–the Dreaded Ear Infection

I have noticed that childhood illnesses travel in packs. Last month it was a croupy cough. This month’s affliction seems to be ear infections.  As a parent, you may be wondering, what’s next?! While childhood illnesses are rarely life threatening, they can be uncomfortable for the children, can lead to sleepless nights for the whole family, and may result in lost work hours.  Apart from putting your child in quarantine, here are some ideas to consider:

1) Make sure your child’s hands get washed several times per day.

2) Teach your child how to cough and sneeze into the crook of his/her elbow, which minimizes those germs all over the hands.

3) Feed your child whole foods: steer away from processed foods and make healthy choices for them, such as water instead of sugar-filled juices, fruit, grains, yogurt, and of course, vegetables and lean meats.

4) Supplements: probiotics (acidophilus, etc) are easy to administer, and are a good idea on a regular basis–not just when your child is on antibiotics.  My brand of choice is Jarrow. You can buy probiotics that are marketed toward children, or you can open a capsule and pour half of it onto cereal, into yogurt or applesauce. Probiotics have no taste. Just mix them into whatever you choose.

5) Acupuncture, aka Shonishin. I see a lot of children when they are in distress–the ear infection that kept the family awake the night before, or the cough that has lingered for weeks. However, regular, monthly treatments can keep your child from experiencing the worst cold symptoms. For children under about 8 years old a treatment is brief, and involves specific tools such as “rake” and micro needles for pediatric use.  I have worked with newborns, toddlers, and kids of all ages, and have found that children respond very quickly to treatment.

Finally, a word on antibiotics for ear infections: in my experience, antibiotics can effectively rid the ear of its infection. However, the fluid and pressure that have built up in the Eustachian tube and behind the eardrum are typically still present. Acupuncture and light massage can help drain the fluid back down the Eustachian tube, thus completing the healing process within your child’s ear.

And, for the adults reading this, have you washed your hands lately?

Children’s Acupuncture, a.k.a. shonishin

You might be wondering if acupuncture might benefit the youngest among us. The short answer is absolutely! We even have a name for children’s acupuncture: shonishin, a word borrowed from Japanese. One of the most common questions I receive is how a baby or a child would sit still for an acupuncture treatment. Until they are about 8 or 9 years old, their treatments look a little different from what you might be used to.

As a seasoned acupuncturist who has treated children from 6 weeks old through the teenage years, I have several tools at my disposal. The most important tool I have, aside from the parents themselves (something I’ll go into further detail in a bit), is a small gold-plated instrument. One end of the tool is slightly rounded for brushing the skin and the other end is a blunted tip for light pressure.

Children have energy (Qi) as adults do, but because they are younger, their Qi is more available on the surface, rather than deeper like ours. It is for this reason that actual acupuncture is optional in shonishin. A typical treatment of a young child or baby lasts between 15-20 minutes, and involves a combination of gentle finger pressure, brushing of the skin with my specialized pediatric tools, light massage, and if appropriate, inserting needles and immediately removing them. There is no physical discomfort experienced by the child (or the parents!). In fact, I often get giggles from ticklish toddlers.

Anther important tool is the parents. Because treatment is most effective when administered on a regular basis, I often show parents how to massage their children in specific areas to treat their ailment. For example, my home remedy for allergies is to have the parents gently stroke their child’s third eye area and down the sides of the nose. If a child is old enough for self-care, I show him or her how to apply pressure on specific meridians.

While I leave more serious conditions to be treated by western physicians, there are many ailments that respond very well to shonishin. My most common ailments include gastric reflux in infants, allergies, colds and flu, digestive disorders, anxiety and concentration issues.

In addition to shonishin I often make recommendations for western and eastern herbs, vitamins, and supplements. Most children respond very quickly to a combination of shonishin and supplements.  And parents, you know that when your child is healthy, you sleep better at night! You owe it to yourselves, so consider shonishin the next time your child is ill!