Friday, May 8, 2015

Non-"puncture" Acupuncture for Children: Treating Kids with Magnets

Kids respond really well to acupuncture, but don't always like the idea of being stuck with needles (many adults feel this way too!). Plus kids are not known for their ability to lie still for long periods of time, while awake. There are a number of non-insertive techniques for children, but I have had great success with improving children's health using magnets.

During the mid-20th century, a Japanese acupuncturist, named Yoshio Manaka, began experimenting with magnets. The idea was to affect the ions, or charged particles, in the body's electrical system to affect a change in someone's health or pain level. He found that areas of higher pain had a higher concentration of negative ions and that by dispersing the ions, the pain level dropped. This idea expanded to weaker areas, points on the body with less Qi, had a lower concentration of negative ions, so by attracting the ions to the weak area, it got stronger.

Chinese medicine is about balancing the amount of energy in the body, bringing more energy/Qi to weaker areas, dispersing energy/Qi from areas of excess and moving energy/Qi in areas where it is stuck. Acupuncture uses needles to create this effect, but magnets can also do the job nicely, especially in children.

If you think back to high school physics, each magnet has a North pole and a South pole. When used with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the North pole is used to Disperse and the South pole is used to Supplement. By placing a magnet with the North pole facing the skin at an acupoint, you will Disperse any accumulation found at that point. By placing the South pole facing the skin at an acupoint, you will Supplement, or build the Qi in that area.

Children tend to be more Yang by nature, which means they tend to run warmer, move faster and have energy that is moving outward. If you've ever observed a 4 year old playing, you know what I mean. Because their nature is more Yang, it tends to be easier to access, and easier to adjust their Qi with less intervention. They have also had less time on the planet to accumulate imbalances so their treatment is usually more straight forward and shorter in duration. Magnets are powerful but gentle and don't pierce the skin. They are taped to acupuncture points so that during the treatment children are free to sit up and color, do puzzles or read a book. I try to dissuade the use of "screens" during the treatment, but that is also a possibility. Because the magnets are taped on, there is less of a possibility that they will get knocked off when the child moves around.

I've used magnets with children as young as 3, up through teens who are sometimes a bit squeamish about the needles. With many pre-teens and teenagers I'll use a combination of needles in the less sensitive points (like the abdomen, back and legs) and magnets on the more sensitive points (like the face, wrists and ankles) which works very well. That being said, I've treated 7 year olds with all needles and I've treated 18 year olds with all magnets; it is really up to the child and what he or she feels comfortable with. In the end the treatment will be more effective if the child can feel calm and relaxed.

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