Asian medicine (Chinese medicine) is wonderful at working with anyone, no matter what their age or gender. As a practitioner, I find it especially magnificent if I can start working with children at a young age. Why? The principles of Asian medicine is preventative in nature. Meaning our goal is to educate first in how to help keep the child healthy and thriving as they go through the formative years. At some point children will get sick. However the focus with Asian medicine is to prevent whenever possible and then step in to treat acute situations as soon as they arise. This is true of any age, not just children. We treat the acute condition as soon as it starts to manifest rather than wait for it to reach a crisis level. If I can get this message and supporting habits through to parents and their young they will lead a healthier, more vibrant life.
Although shock, trauma and mental and emotional issues can be effectively addressed with Asian medicine, I will save that for another blog. Today let’s just focus on the very basics–the channels that are in most in support and assistance as the child’s body grows and develops. Be sure to check out Helping Children Grow and Thrive too.
The differentiation of patterns in children according to Asian medicine.
A quick note on Qi – Qi (energy) is named by its function and its location – or where is it and what is it supposed to be doing. The Qi of the Lungs refers to how much energy and vitality the Lungs have and so it goes with all the other organs. Let’s take a look at the organs we focus on most with children and their patterns.
Kidney Jing deficiency – The Kidneys are the root of both Yin and Yang in the body and they give rise to the other channels and organs in the body. Jing is the precious essence that is transited to us by our parent’s strength at the time of conception. It then remains inactive during pregnancy and is activate at birth. A little Jing is used with every activity in the body and how much we are given is all we get – which is why we put Read more on the Kidneys and water element. heavy emphasis on the strength of parents desiring to conceive. Jing deficiency are the patterns that we are born with such as birth defects, bone disorders and Down’s Syndrome. Although we cannot repair or ‘fix’ these patterns we can greatly influence the child’s health, their nutrient absorption, increase the immune system, and flow of Qi. Read more on the Kidneys and water element.
Lung Qi deficiency – Also called the “Sea of Qi” the Lung are responsible for the Wei Qi (defensive or immune Qi). They receive the air from the exterior, purify and refine it to create Ta Qi (Qi of air) and then combine it with Ku Qi (refined Qi of foods) from the Spleen to create the Nutritive Qi that nourishes all organs in the body. They are then partly responsible for distributing the Nutritive Qi throughout the body with their Descending and Dispersing functions. Children’s Lungs are very delicate and susceptible to weakness until they are about 7-8, growing stronger as the child grows–hopefully. When they are strong, the Lungs descend the Qi into the body on inhalation (no coughing), and disperses the Qi on exhalation (good circulation, no cold extremities). Lung Qi deficiency is seen in disharmonies like: allergies, frequent colds and flu, low energy, wheezing, asthma and coughing, running nose. Learn more about the Lungs and the metal element.
Spleen Qi or Yang deficiency – Responsible for overseeing the refinement of foods into Ku Qi that it then ascends to the Lungs to combine with Ta Qi which will be used through the body for all functions. We look to the Spleen for overall energy and digestive vitality (along with the Stomach). The Spleen is particularly susceptible to dampness which is most often caused the diet. Spleen patterns are seen in: weak immunity, low energy, soft muscles, digestive upset, vomiting, nausea, anemia, anorexia, anemia, bloating, sinus congestion, loose stools or diarrhea and general lack of vitality. More on the Spleen?
Dampness and Phlegm Accumulation – This pattern again? Yes, it is very common. Children are very susceptible to phlegm and damp conditions. This pattern most commonly arises from diet. In Asian medicine Spleen Yang is the fire or cauldron that heats your digestive system (your metabolism). Too many sugars, refined and processed foods, cold and raw foods, dairy and yeast will lead drain or put out the fire causing Spleen Yang deficiency. In children dampness and phlegm are present in: allergies, asthma, coughing, wheezing, yeast overgrowth (thrush), anemia, anorexia, veganism, sinus congestion, slow digestion, bloating, gas, loose stools, low energy, exhaustion and obesity. Watch the sweets and refined foods…they aren’t a treat anymore when the body suffers.
Liver Qi Stagnation – A big player, especially during the hormonal growth years. Whether caused by deficiency of Blood, obstruction of cold, stagnation of emotions, or lack of physical movement things have stopped moving or moves in lurches–your kid suddenly transforms from monster to loving and laughing after a good run. Keep the kids moving.
Blood Deficiency – Blood deficiency can arise from lack of proper nutrition, irregular eating, excess blood loss and I see it popping up in children that are trying to be vegetarian. Can kids be vegetarian or vegan? Yes, but it requires a lot of knowledge and willingness to eat foods that aren’t in the standard American diet–not a choice that should be entered into lightly or frivolously. The childhood years are times of vital growth, and wild swings in the diet can be dangerous, especially for girl’s menstrual cycles. Click here to find out more about how to build Blood. Blood deficiency is seen in anemia, anorexia, bulimia, chronic weakness and immune patterns, allergies, chronic digestive weakness, constipation and diarrhea, fatigue and general weakness.
A little education can go a long way and I’m always happy to see when children embrace the recommendations and start actively participating in their own own wellness.