With this year’s cold and flu season upon us, I am noticing the massive amount of kids coming down with runny noses, sore throats, coughs. although every kid seems susitible, some get hit harder than others. While this exposure to bacteria is important, and allows kids to build up their library of antibodies, there is lots we can do to build up their immune systems, so it can do it’s job of fighting infections quickly, efficiently, and effectively. When kids are hit by one bug, and it knocks them down it can be hard for them to come back to their full strength before another exposure comes along. With just a little bit of support, kids can begin the season ahead of the game, or regain their strength, so they don’t have to spend November to March with a runny nose.There are many tools and tricks you can implement at home to help reinforce the immune system. Making sure that kids have a well-balanced and varied diet can sometimes be a challenge. Working toward a diet full of whole foods will definitely help give kids a leg up with immunity. In addition though, because we can’t always sneak in enough fruits and veggies, there are things we can do to supplement their diet and ramp up the immune system. Sleep is also another extremely important factor in immunity. Most 3-6 year olds still need 11-12 hours of sleep a day. Take advantage of the early sunset and try enforcing an early bedtime.
Another tool to try for your child is acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupuncture and/or acupressure can be extremely helpful to your child to fight off infection, both during a cold or sickness and as preventative medicine. Similar to allopathic medicine, in Chinese medicine we look at the common cold as an invasion of a pathogen into the Lung. We view this pathogen as a type of wind. Through a series of questions and inspection of the child, we use to determine if it is a wind-cold or a wind-heat, or in summertime, summer-heat with dampness. Wind-cold is classified by low fever with chills and lots of white thin phlegm; whereas wind-heat usually is exhibited through sore throat, yellow thick phlegm, and high fever with mild chills. Often, a kid will be prone to one or the other, and you might notice that your child’s symptoms when she gets sick often look the same. We then chose acupuncture points which will expel the wind-cold or wind-heat and well as supplementing and boosting “wei” or defensive qi, otherwise know as the immune system. To read more about this syndrome you can visit: http://acupuncture.com/conditions/commoncold.htm.
In my practice, I tend to use a combination of acupressure and acupuncture with most kids. We always start with the pressure, just pressing the points, and then I gauge the child’s comfort level. Most kids will allow me, even in that first session, to do at least one or two needles. I always make sure the kids feel very comfortable and they know that I would never sneak up on them. They are so relieved after the first needle, realizing they don’t even feel it, and so proud of their bravery. And the results continue to amaze me. Kids are so quick to respond, and usually their coughs and runny noses taper off and quickly go away. Often parents will come back saying that their little one’s cough stopped in the car and didn’t come back, or that everyone has been sick at their school, but not their child! And the best is that the kids feel the results, they feel better and then are even more willing to be brave for more needles. It is so neat to watch them come back, excited to report their results and ready to feel better!