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Food & Health

Should You Let Your Child Try TCM?

Paediatrics is one of the oldest specialities within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and dates from the early first millennium. Since that time, there has been continuous development in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s diseases.

When a child gets sick, it is natural for parents to be anxious and to do whatever they can to make the child feel better – like giving them extra hugs or cuddling up with her/him in bed. However, battling with the child to try to get them to take the medicine is probably not an easy task for all parents. Hence, paediatric massage therapy has a great potential in complementing conventional medicine especially in common paediatric diseases. We gather pointers from Raffles Hospital Physician, Ms Miao Meng. 

Children and TCM 
According to TCM, children are considered to be immature both physically and functionally. Most common paediatric complaints are due to this immaturity. Hence, they are susceptible to diseases that affect the lungs such as allergies and asthma, eczema, recurring episodes of colds and coughs and the spleen such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and stomach aches.

In TCM, the digestive system is comprised of spleen and stomach. The spleen energy in children is often deficient. “A weak digestion results in the children having difficulty in separating the food they consume into “clear” (i.e. nutrients) and “turbid” or waste (i.e. urine and stool) effectively. The accumulating waste materials may collect in the stomach and intestines, thus affecting their function and causing abdominal distension, stomach aches, constipation and diarrhoea,” says Ms Meng. 

When this “turbid” substance accumulates in the body, it is referred to in TCM as dampness and phlegm. If dampness is present in the body, it may manifest as diarrhoea or skin conditions such as eczema. The phlegm produced has a tendency to accumulate in the lungs. This is supported by the statement of fact in TCM that says “the lungs are the place where phlegm is stored.” Symptoms of phlegm in the lungs include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing and even asthmatic wheezing.

Furthermore, there is a close relationship between the lungs and spleen. For example, in clinical practice, it is common for respiratory problems to either begin or be aggravated by faulty digestion due to an improper diet. Another observation noted was that children easily and quickly return to health when the root of their illness is addressed, says Ms Meng. 

The Benefits of TCM Paediatric Massage
TCM Paediatric Massage Therapy is specifically designed to prevent and treat paediatric disease by using a special repertoire of acupoints that are specific and particularly beneficial to children, aged from 6 months old to 12 years old. This technique enhances a child’s energy flow by applying massage to activate the various acupoints instead of needles.

There are certain combinations of specific massage techniques for the purpose of rebalancing particular patterns of disharmony within the child. Paediatric massage is soothing and relaxing for the child and does not cause pain or discomfort.

The main indications for paediatric massage are:

  • recurrent colds, cough, asthma
  • poor appetite, indigestion
  • abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
  • skin problems
  • poor sleep, night crying
  • restlessness, agitation, hyperactivity

Prevention is better than Cure 
According to Ms Meng, besides treating illnesses, TCM Paediatric Massage Therapy can act as a preventive measure by reinforcing Spleen, Lung and Kidney energy, improving the organ function of growing children, strengthening the child’s immune system and enhancing mental growth and development, all of which act holistically to effectively prevent childhood ailments.

Furthermore, paediatric massage can help to enhance a child’s brain development and encourage greater memory capacity and creativity.  Last but not least, parents can also learn basic paediatric massage techniques to use with their children at home. Massage is a great way to care for your child and is also an excellent way to bond with them.

What are your thoughts on TCM for children? Share with us your views in the comments down below.