Traditional Oriental Medicine is over 3,000 years old. Its root can be found in China though other Asian countries have adapted this medicine and broadened its scope. Oriental Medicine is based on a life force energy known as ‘Qi’. Qi flows through pathways throughout the body. Most acupuncture points are located on these pathways. When there is an imbalance of Qi flowing throughout a pathway, a physical symptom may occur. For example, if there is an excess of Qi, pain may result. If there is a deficiency of Qi, a person may feel fatigued. When children are developing, they pull on their parent’s Qi, thus parents will often feel tired from a Qi deficiency (sound familiar!).

As children grow older and more independent (this starts at age 2-3), they begin to establish and recognize their own life force and do not require as much from the parent. Thus it is vital that throughout a child’s development, their life force energy, their Qi, is nurtured and supported physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Parents are also advised to be aware of their own energy. Let’s face it, as parents, children come first and we often forget our own need for balance and harmony. A harmonic family rhythm is achieved when each member lives from her/his own center.

Traditional Oriental Medicine is a wholistic medicine embracing the body, mind, spirit, and heart. The objective is to treat the root problem thus eliminating the underlying symptoms. There are several modalities within this ancient medicine- acupuncture, herbology, nutrition, exercise, massage, and surveying one’s life style. An extensive diagnostic process determines which modalities will be most effective for each individual.

Acupuncture: In China acupuncture needles are used on infants and children. However, in this country, many children have a needle phobia for obvious reasons. If a child is not open to needles, there is a Japanese technique called Tei Shin. This is a gentle and effective technique used to stimulate the acupuncture points without the use of needles. Moxibustion, a gentle heat is also used to stimulate the points.

Herbology: Herbal formulas have been used for thousands of years in Asia. The key to the successful use of herbs is that there is appropriate diagnosis. Herbal use has become very popular. Unfortunately there is little if any diagnosis that is going into the use of herbs. In Oriental medicine, a person is properly diagnosed before a formula is dispensed. Note the key word ‘formula’, meaning a combination of herbs vs. a single herb. Most conditions and diseases are treated with formulas based on the needs of each individual; thus the proven efficacy of Oriental herbology.

Massage/Tui Na: One of the most effective techniques for children is Chinese massage known as Tui Na. Based on the diagnosis, this technique gently moves the Qi in the appropriate direction.

Nutrition: ‘We are what we eat.’ Asian philosophy views food as medicine and uses it successfully as an approach to healing and strengthening the body. For example, there are so many children that have an allergen to cows’ milk. These children may have an abundance of colds, congestion, ear infections, rashes, and/or digestive disorders. Parents are fearful that their children won’t get enough Calcium if they stop drinking milk. There are alternatives: Goat’s milk, fortified rice or soy milk (caution: soy can be an allergen), green leafy vegetable, naming a few.

Exercise: Movement of Qi is critical for children, generally because they have so much of it. There are wonderful forms of movement that help children develop a sense of awareness of their bodies: yoga, tai qi and qi gong. These disciplines teach children mindfulness and concentration- quiet movement.

Life Style: Finding balance within chaos is always a challenge but possible. In today’s quick pace, it is so important to spend quality time with our children. Even though stress plays a role in most lives, it is important for parents to find ways to leave that stress at the office, or wherever it belongs, so that it’s stagnant energy does not seep into the family. As you may have already noticed, children pick up on this stress and act out accordingly. As parents, no one needs to be reminded how quickly our children grow, develop, and change. Find joyful ways of being with your children during these wondrous times. View life through the eyes of your child.

Traditional Oriental Medicine treats childhood conditions such as asthma, allergies, digestive disorders, skin problems, childhood illnesses, sleeplessness, hyperactivity, naming afew. Incorporating Oriental Medicine into your family’s lives will help you obtain and maintain optimal health, wellness and balance in the rhythm of your lives.

Published in The Art of Well Being 2001 and Natural Triad Magazine 2004.