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Chinese herbal medicine for Children

Chinese herbal medicine for Children

, by Web Admin, 5 min reading time

Chinese herbal medicine for Children In Chinese medicine, there are four main methods of treating children: Diet, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese pediatric massage, and acupuncture. Generally, the Chinese practitioner will try to determine whether the child is abnormally hot or cold, whether their qi is sufficient or deficient, and whether there is a condition that needs to be eliminated from the body.

 

In TCM pediatrics, children are not considered miniature adults. Chinese medicine holds that because children’s bodies are immature, and therefore inherently weak, they are susceptible to diseases which affect the Lungs, the Spleen (digestion) and the Liver. This explains why children so often have upper respiratory tract complaints such as colds, coughs, allergies and asthma, as well as digestive disorders like colic, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, and stomachache.

In Chinese medicine, there are four main methods of treating children: Diet, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese pediatric massage, and acupuncture. Generally, on the child’s initial visit, the Chinese practitioner will try to determine whether the child is abnormally hot or cold, whether their qi is sufficient or deficient, and whether there is a condition which needs to be eliminated from the body. The practitioner will look at the child’s eyes, tongue, skin color and take the pulse near the base of the index finger to tell whether the disease is hot or cold, an excess or deficiency, how far it has progressed, and how dangerous the condition is. The practitioner will also listen to the quality of the child’s breathing, voice and speech. Lastly, questions will be asked about this child’s history. Some questions are the same as a Western MD might ask while others are specific to Chinese medicine.

Because digestion plays such a pivotal role in the health and well being of infants and young children, the diet is extremely important in preventing and treating the most commonly encountered children’s diseases. The common high protein, high sugar and salt Western diet can be problematic according to TCM, and most pediatric diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and poor development can be either completely eliminated or markedly relieved if one simply changes the child’s diet. 

When children are overfed, their Stomach and Spleen are inundated with more food than they can deal with efficiently, and may lead to digestive system discomfort such as colic. Feeding on a schedule and in smaller amounts can significantly decrease colic, earaches, coughs and colds in infants. Limiting sweets and dairy foods is also important to a child’s health. Sweets damage the Spleen, while dairy is also dampening (results in phlegm). Children can be fed a diet high in complex carbohydrates and vegetables with small amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy.

Chinese herbal medicine is one of the most sophisticated herbal medicine systems in the world. Typically, combinations of six to 20 ingredients are used in formulas correlated to each individual’s pattern of disharmony. The formulas are crafted together to act synergistically, each ingredient designed to accomplish a part of the overall process of restoring balance. Typically, formulas for improving the general health of children consist of Chinese herbs which fortify the Spleen, harmonize the Stomach, eliminate dampness, transform phlegm, and clear abnormal heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Chinese herbs can include ingredients from the animal and mineral kingdoms as well as the plant kingdom such as roots, barks, fruits, berries, twigs, stems, leaves and flowers.

Wing Hop Fung has traditional herbal teas crafted especially to address childrens’ digestive comforts. TCM believes that children can naturally tend toward dampness, chubbiness, slow difficult digestion, reduced urination, irritability, bloating and cramps. A diet that is rich in greasy foods or sweets exacerbates these discomforts. One highly popular childrens’ tea in China is called Seven Natural Herb Beverage for Children. (Natural Herbs Tea

It contains herbal foods that enhance digestive comfort and absorption so that children experience easy digestion, healthy urination, reduced bloating and digestive stress and improved sleep patterns. It is often taken with warm water as the last formula of the day. The powdered ingredients include hawthorn berry which improves heart health and circulation as well as digestion. Sprouted Millet is added to improve nourishment. Other ingredients are: Coix seed which reduces dampness (aka phlegmy congestion), soothing, moistening Bamboo leaf, Gambir plant, dried Cicada slough recommended to increase saliva and ease throat comfort, Liquorice root to reduce cramping and Cane sugar to improve taste. 

There are a number of ways that Chinese herbal medicine can be dispensed for children. There are pills, powders, tinctures and teas. In general, teas should not be mixed in orange or other fruit juices, although there are a few exceptions. A bit of honey or lemon may be added to help offset any bitter taste. Chinese herbal medicine is great for both preventative and remedial treatment in children. When children have a history of chronic and recurrent infections where diet modification alone has not worked, using Chinese herbal medicine is often a good choice. Chinese herbal medicine, when prescribed and dispensed by a licensed practitioner, is safe with few or no side effects.

Chinese pediatric massage is useful for treating children up to the age of twelve, however, the younger the child is, the more effective the pediatric massage. There are certain combinations of specific massage maneuvers for the rebalancing of particular patterns of disharmony. Chinese pediatric massage usually needs to be done frequently: every day for a couple of days for acute conditions, every other day for chronic conditions. At home, a very gentle soothing tummy and foot massage is comforting for infants. Baby’s skin is still developing and is sensitive to everything. If you choose oil, it is important to use an edible food-based oil. Some examples may include cooling sunflower, almond, grapeseed, coconut, olive, and safflower oil. To help ease anxiety and improve sleep, pure mild sesame oil is beneficial. 

The benefits of Chinese pediatric massage are becoming more integrated into Western medical practices. In San Diego, nurses from San Diego Children’s Hospital participate in a continuing education lecture series on Chinese pediatric massage sponsored by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. There, Registered Nurses learn Chinese Pediatric Massage and basic concepts and theories of traditional Oriental medicine to incorporate into their caregiving practice.

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