Acupuncture for Asthma in Children

Acupuncture is a very good form of pediatric healthcare that is not really widely utilized though it is famous for its usefulness in the relief of acute or chronic pain.  These days, acupuncture therapy for pediatric healthcare is being explored especially if it relates to asthma.  It is best first to understand what acupuncture is and how it is effective from a physiological perspective. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into acupuncture points on the body that are related to the relief of a certain type of discomfort.

The needles are usually inserted to a depth of 0.3 to 0.8 of an inch and they remain inserted into the skin for around 15 to 20 minutes per treatment session.

How does acupuncture work?

In terms of western medicine, acupuncture stimulates the circulatory system and the sympathetic nervous system as well as several other body systems to normalize the body in certain situations. Most of the acupuncture points lie along vessels of energy known as meridians. There are 14 known primary meridians in the body and they are the pathways where electromagnetic energy travels. This energy is called Qi by the Chinese.

Traditional Chinese medicine calls asthma as “xiao chuan” which in English means dyspnea and wheezing. These two manifestations are deemed distinct from each other and are resolved as such. Usually patients manifest wheezing along with shortness of breath although the opposite may not be necessarily true.

The pathogenesis and etiology of childhood asthma is due to three factors from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM.  One factor is the body’s infiltration of external pathogens. Cigarette smoke, pollen, heat, cold and any other allergens are substances that can lead to childhood asthma.  Taking an allergy test is one good way to start treatment of these pathogens. If certain allergens are present, it is important to rid them from your home or workplace. Acupuncturists consider cold type asthma to be represented by sticky yellow sputum and a cough, rapid breathing and wheezing. Heat type asthma, on the other hand, may manifest symptoms such as sticky and yellow sputum along with a full cough. One other major factor for asthma is diet. The possibility of an asthma attack goes up with consumption of certain foods such shellfish, fried foods, greasy foods, or portions of raw foods. Knowing the foods that trigger childhood asthma in your child and delisting them from his/her diet can help lessen the number of attacks. One last factor, from an acupuncture point of view, is the underlying imbalances. These imbalances are due to chronic illnesses or a congenital issue that tends to weaken the body.  Internal weakness can cause phlegm accumulation since the body water metabolism of the body becomes dysfunctional. When this happens, the storage and production of phlegm can be found in the lungs, which often is the organ involved in asthma attacks.

Several herbal remedies and acupuncture points can be used to treat childhood asthma. Based on the health and age of the child, Chinese pediatric massage or acupressure can be used in lieu of acupuncture.  You should have your child only treated by a licensed acupuncturist.