Acupuncture is less commonly considered as a viable form of pediatric healthcare although it’s quite famous for its use in the alleviation of pain, whether acute or chronic. Nowadays, scientists are exploring the viability of acupuncture on pediatric healthcare, specifically, its effectiveness against childhood asthma. We need to first know, though, what acupuncture is all about and how it works from a physiological point of view.

The Chinese healing technique known as acupuncture involves the use of filiform needles inserted into acupuncture points (acupoints) related to the relief of a specific ailment. The needles are left inserted in the body for around 15 to 20 minutes. The average depth of the needles is around a third to an eighth of an inch deep.

What Makes Acupuncture Work?

From a Western medical standpoint, acupuncture works by stimulating the circulatory system and the sympathetic nervous system along with several other physiological systems in order to normalize the functions of the body. The acupoints commonly used are found on the body, face, and on the ears.

Hsiao chuan is the Chinese medicine term for asthma. It means dyspnea and wheezing in English. These two symptoms are deemed to be distinct illnesses and are addressed as such. People suffering from wheezing will also have shortness of breath. This does not mean that people who have shortness of breath also suffer from wheezing. A person with Hsiao chuan has a wheezing “whistling” sound during breathing.

From the point of view of Chinese medicine, the pathogenesis and etiology of childhood asthma is based on three main factors. Infiltration of external pathogens is the first factor. The pathogens may be allergens, cigarette smoke, pollen, heat, and cold. In treating these external pathogens, the initial step is to take an allergy test. If they are discovered, it is important to remove from your home any items that may contain the allergens in question. Cold type asthma, from the viewpoint of acupuncture, is marked by cough with clear sputum, rapid breathing and wheezing along with other possible signs and symptoms. The heat type asthma is characterized by sticky and yellow sputum along with a full cough along with other possible signs and symptoms. Diet is the other factor in childhood asthma. An asthma attack becomes highly likely when the person eats large amounts of fried, greasy, or raw foods as well as certain sea-foods and shellfishes. Knowing the foods that can trigger childhood asthma in a child and excluding them from the child’s diet can drastically reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. Underlying deficiency, from an acupuncture standpoint, is the third factor. Chronic illnesses or congenital issue, which results in weakness, can cause these deficiencies to arise. Phlegm accumulation can result from this internal weakness, since the water metabolism of the body is compromised. When this happens, the phlegm storage and production is located in the lungs, making this organ mainly responsible for recurring asthma attacks.

In the treatment of childhood asthma, Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists can have several herbal formulas and specific acupoints to choose from that are helpful. Chinese pediatric massage or acupressure may be used in lieu of acupuncture depending on the health and age of the child. It is important that you seek help only from a licensed acupuncturist. Your child may benefit so much from this powerful and time-tested treatment.

Emily Farish is a licensed acupuncturist in Spokane, WA and the founder of Emily Farish Acupuncture.