Keeping your Children Healthy through the WinterKeeping Your Children Healthy Through the Winter

By Sally Goluboff, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M.

Chinese medicine has a history of treating children for over 2,000 years with acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional therapy and pediatric tuina bodywork. Eastern medicine has always looked for ways to prevent the onset of disease, whereas Western medicine has usually been focused on treating disease thatís already present. Your best bet is to help your children stay strong and healthy prior to the cold and flu season so their bodies can resist any viruses they may be exposed to.

You canít really avoid having your children exposed to viruses, especially when they are in school. If their immune system is strong, then they have a better chance of not getting sick or at least of fighting off the virus and recovering faster. Remember that although colds and flus can resolve on their own, symptoms may linger for weeks and complications can develop, such as encephalitis, pneumonia, croup or seizures.

Itís normal for young children to develop a cold or flu throughout the year because their immune systems are in the process of developing. As your child grows, their immune system will become stronger and there will be fewer colds and flus.

Taking an integrative approach can be very beneficial and weíre always happy to work alongside your childís pediatrician. Itís best to treat a child preventatively in the months prior to winter, building their immune system with specific acupuncture points and herbs. If your child does come down with a cold or flu, recovery will be quicker if theyíve already had a series of treatments.

Itís usually recommended to bring a child in at the onset of symptoms, so that acupuncture can be used to help ease the symptoms. There are therapeutic points all over the body. As with adults, every treatment is customized for a childís condition. Parents are often concerned that acupuncture may hurt or that their child may be afraid of needles. We have acupuncture tools that cause little to no sensation. Thereís even a "magic pen" that we can use in this situation. Children usually react very positively to acupuncture treatments.

Chinese herbal medicine is also used to treat cold and flu symptoms. In Chinese Medicine, herbal formulas are customized to address a childís specific symptoms. We may use astragalus or reishi mushrooms to strengthen the immune system. To relieve cold and flu symptoms, we may include honeysuckle, forsythia, schizonepetae, kudzu and peppermint. Our herbal formulas can be prepared as drops, pills or powders.

Now is the time for everyone to get ready for cold and flu season. Please call to make an appointment with your acupuncturist for a consult for your child and others in your family.

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