East Meets West - Is TCM good for your kid?

TCM Shanghai China

For centuries, people have relied on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to prevent illnesses, promote healthy lifestyles and cure common ailments. While you have probably heard of the benefits of TCM, they are not aware that it can be practiced effectively with children as well as adults.Families who receive TCM care have given it rave reviews and now you too can learn more.Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

1. What kind of TCM treatments are available for children?

Answer: There are a variety of treatments available for children. Depending upon the child's condition, treatment may include Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese acupuncture therapy, and Chinese massage therapy. In addition, ready-made pills or oral liquid and external application of Chinese herbal products are all good TCM options for children. These options can be especially beneficial to children who experience chronic problems and certain ailments related to physical development.  Although effective, acupuncture is not used often for children since the use of needles might be a little scary and can be harmful if the child moves around too much. For children, TCM treatments usually involve Chinese herbal medicine, special pediatric massage therapy and diet recommendations.

2. TCM is based on the principle of bringing the body into balance. What are the most frequent ways a child or teenager's body can get out of balance? Of these problems, which seems to respond well to TCM?

Answer: Imbalance can come from a variety of external factors including improper food intake, stress or changes in living environment such as an extreme difference between air-conditioned room temperatures and outdoor temperatures. Some digestive problems (e.g. colic, stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation and indigestion), respiratory problems (e.g. colds, coughs, allergies, and asthma), sleeping problems, cough, running nose, and fever all respond well to TCM.

3. As a medicine that is often used to prevent sickness rather than to cure it, how can one use TCM to prevent their child from getting certain illnesses?

Answer: TCM therapies are used both in prevention and treatment of illnesses. TCM is all about restoring balance; many illnesses are caused by an imbalance of the body's energies. By identifying what is causing this imbalance, TCM treatments can restore the balance and prevent future flare-ups.

4. What are the advantages /disadvantages of using TCM on children? What, if any, dangers are involved?

Answer: One of the greatest benefits of TCM is that herbal medicine does not contain chemicals so it will not harm children's physical and neurological development (as long as these products are used under supervision of experienced TCM practitioners). One disadvantage is that some children may not like the smell or taste of herbal products, or they may not like the mechanical stimulations from Chinese acupuncture or massage therapy. If TCM therapies or products are used properly, under the supervision of a TCM practitioner, there should be no danger and the outcomes should be positive.

5. We all know that kids can be a little scared of doctor visits or taking medicine. How does one persuade one's child to try something that may seem scary?

Answer: That's true. No one enjoys taking medicine which is bitter in taste, and doctor visits can cause anxiety. However, not all TCM products are bitter; some even taste sweet. Usually, when children have a physical ailment, it is an indication that the body is out of balance. In these instances, the body frequently craves a specific taste; these cravings are the body's way of trying to obtain the necessary nutrients to restore balance. Often, if you can convince the child to have a small taste of the TCM product, he/she may find that it's not as bad as they think. Also, many TCM products for children are sweet in taste.

6. Of those who receive TCM treatment in China, what percentage are kids? In your opinion, what accounts for these numbers?

Answer: The percentage of patients who are children tend to be small due to the relative infrequency of chronic conditions that Westerners generally treat with TCM. For this reason, it is recommended that the parent try TCM as well. There is no better advertisement than a satisfied customer – especially when it is a child's parent. Parents should consider TCM therapies for children, since they are an effective and risk-free option for certain illnesses.

7. Are there times when both Western and TCM treatments are recommended?

Answer: Yes. Some acute problems, such as inflammation, bleeding, bone fracture, or infectious diseases, are better treated with Western Medicine because the Western treatments are more pharmaceutically orientated and effective for acute conditions. TCM is often the last option for children's ailments, both in Chinese and Western parents, but, once they see TCM's effectiveness, parents are generally more willing to use TCM in the future.

8. What would a typical visit to a TCM practitioner involve?


1. On the child initial visit, the Chinese practitioner will examine the patient. Depending on the health complaints, the child may be asked to lie down or be examined while sitting up. The practitioner will look at the child's eyes, tongue and skin color. The practitioner will also listen to the quality of the child's breathing. 2. The practitioner will also ask about the child's medical history. Some questions will be the same as you would expect from a Western doctor, other questions will be more specific toTCM. 3. Based on the examination, the practitioner will make a diagnosis and a recommendation which can include:

  • - TCM herbs and teas
  • - Diet recommendations
  • - Special pediatric massage therapy. Often times, the practitioner will show the parents how to give this massage to the child so it can be done at home.

4. At the end of your visit, usually the patient will be asked to come back for a follow-up consultation. Depending on the nature of the health issue, the patient may be asked to come back on a routine basis for several follow-up visits

9. How do the costs of TCM vary from those of Western medicine?

Answer: It is difficult to answer that question because we are not comparing "apples to apples". TCM generally requires 10 sessions to a treatment whereas in Western medicine you may only need one. Often you can pay for the series instead of an individual session, but this depends on treatment complexity and therapeutic need.

The goal is to help you raise healthy, well-balanced children, and TCM can be another tool in your parental toolbox. Consider TCM because it's one treatment option that has stood the test of time – 3,000 years!

Sinoaid provides TCM service in our Shanghai Healthcare Networks. For more information, please call our 24 hour hotline: 021-51082260

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