Using Chinese Medicine to Care for Children | Paddington Clinic, Acupuncture Brisbane & Natural TherapiesPaddington Clinic

Using Chinese Medicine to Care for Children

2 Jul, 2013 - Acupuncture, Blog, Herbal Medicine

Chinese medicine uses the beautiful analogy of children being like tender, immature sprouts tentatively emerging from the soil. Like germinating seeds, children rely on their own versions of heat and sunlight and water, and a whole range of factors to grow. Development is not steady. It comes in fits and starts with periods of rapid growth and change, and since Chinese medicine views children to be immature in development until the age of six or seven, they are more prone to a wide variety of health problems.


In Chinese medicine, the digestion is comprised of the Spleen and Stomach. There is a statement in Chinese medicine that the “children’s spleen is insufficient.” This statement particularly applies to children younger than six years of age because this is the average age a person’s digestion matures. The immature digestion combined with an improper diet accounts for the most commonly encountered paediatric complaints including: colic, ear infections, eczema, cough, swollen glands, allergies and asthma.

Because children’s digestion is weak, they have difficulty effectively separating the food they consume into “clear” (i.e. nutrients) and “turbid” or waste (i.e. urine and stool). Normally, if the body is functioning efficiently, these separated nutrients are combined with the air we breathe to form qi (energy) and blood in the body. However, a weak digestion that is due to an inability to separate “clear” and “turbid” may lead to an accumulation of “turbid” materials in the body. This accumulation takes place due to the immature digestion’s inability to excrete waste as efficiently as possible. This “turbid” material may collect in the stomach and intestines and affect their functioning, causing abdominal distension, stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea and/or vomiting. When this “turbid” substance accumulates in the body, it is referred to in Chinese medicine as dampness and then phlegm when it is severe or long-term. If dampness is present in the body, it may manifest as diarrhea, vomiting or skin conditions such as eczema.

This means that phlegm is a byproduct of a weak digestion. However, once it is produced, it has a tendency to accumulate in the lungs. Symptoms of phlegm in the lungs include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing and even asthmatic wheezing.

In summary, most of the commonly encountered pediatric diseases are either:

1. Upper respiratory complaints such as cough, common cold, asthma and allergies which are indications of phlegm in the lungs or

2. Digestive tract complaints such as colic, diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting which are caused by a weak digestion.


In terms of preventing and treating health problems in infants and children, diet is extremely important. Regardless of the treatment chosen, most children’s diseases should surround regulating and strengthening the digestion.

There are three components to digestion:

• What we eat
• How we eat
• How we digest

As far as the physiological function of the digestion goes, the how we digest component, the Chinese believe that the primary role of the digestion is to separate the useful, ‘good’ energy from the non-useful energy or waste products, also known as phlegm. Chinese Medicine can strengthen digestion, treat phlegm and help prevent digestive problems and upper respiratory illness in children.


There are three main ways Chinese medicine can treat children.

Firstly, with dietary therapy. Your practitioner will assess your child individually and prescribe foods to avoid and foods to eat to help the condition. For example, if there is a lot of phlegm, your practitioner will advise your child avoid ‘phlegmy’ foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt, and bananas. They may also recommend your child avoids foods which are cold in nature, like too much fruit, sandwiches and raw, uncooked food. This is because in Chinese medicine, the Stomach and Spleen need heat to digest effectively, and too much cold food can dampen the digestive fire and cause a sluggish digestion and phlegm formation.

Secondly, children’s acupuncture, called shonishin is very effective in treating a wide array of children’s health complaints, and you can read more about it here.

Thirdly, through Chinese herbsChinese herbs include roots, barks, fruits, berries, twigs, stems, leaves and flowers from the plant kingdom. As well, Chinese herbs may also encompass ingredients from the animal and mineral kingdoms. Chinese herbal medicine is great for both the preventive and remedial treatment of illnesses. There are a number of formulas that have been used by Chinese doctors for 2,000 years to improve the general health of children. Preventive herbal formulas may be used to inhibit chronic or recurrent tonsillitis, ear infections, cough, asthma etc.. The dosage and type of formula is modified as the person’s illness changes.

There are a number of ways that Chinese herbal medicine can be dispensed for children. There are pills, powders, tinctures and teas. Any liquid form of Chinese medicine may be conveniently and effectively administered via an eye dropper. When prescribed and dispensed by a qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine, Chinese herbal medicine is safe with few or no side effects.

1. Asthma

2. Cough

3. Eczema and other skin problems

4. Bedwetting

5. Hyperactivity (i.e. ADHD, ADD, etc.)

6. Digestion problems (i.e. colic, constipation, diarrhea etc.)

7. Allergies

8. Ear infections

9. Common cold

10. Strep throat and Tonsillitis

We hope the information in this article will give parents confidence and peace of mind that Chinese medicine is a natural, gentle treatment option that can be used safely and effectively as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with Western medicine to treat a wide range of common childhood illnesses and keep your child healthy and well.

Related Posts

3 Jul, 2018 - Blog
by Rachel Steward, Acupuncturist Are you undergoing fertility treatment and feeling the stress?  You are not alone! After... read »
by Joel Delaney. Chronic conditions certainly can be hard to treat. My hope is that these 5 key points will help you get bette... read »
Acupuncture seeks to rebalance the energy pathways of the body – and it is a very logical system – but it works in s... read »


Copyright ©2018 Paddington Clinic - Acupuncture Brisbane and Natural Therapies . Site Map . Business Links . Small Business Web Design Gold Coast EMD