Every child will soon or later have a cold or tummy ache. Most of these episodes are not all that serious but they can make you and your child feel miserable enough to look for help. In Germany many pediatricians are interested in avoiding pharmaceutical drugs, such as antibiotics, when a young patient visits. In the US it is more difficult to find doctors who are knowledgeable about natural treatments. In this and a subsequent article I’d like to offer some guiding principles for parents considering natural approaches to minor illnesses of their children.

The most common health concerns in young children are usually respiratory infections and digestive troubles. Children’s immune systems are forming in the first several months of life, so kids are more susceptible to infections. Their little bodies are learning to assimilate foods that are new to them. That’s not always easy and can lead to tummy aches or digestive troubles.

Pediatrics in East Asian medicine

Chinese medicine has been used for centuries to treat our young friends safely and effectively. Abdominal massage is easy to learn and you can treat your baby at home. Other therapies such as acupuncture and herbal prescriptions should be administered by an experienced health care professional. Acupuncture is practiced differently in children than in adults. I usually do not retain needles and instead often use other tools to apply shoni-shin, a Japanese method to treat children. I may also tape seeds or apply essential oils to acupuncture points to stimulate them instead of inserting needles.

Meet one of my young patients

Leo used to get a cold about once a month. Each time, his runny nose, cough, fever, and low appetite prevented him from going to kindergarten for almost a week. Fortunately, his mother was reluctant to use antibiotics. We relieved his cough with an herbal sirup, resolved the viral infection with a classic pediatric herbal formula and supported his immune resilience with shoni-shin on his Lung meridian. After several consecutive treatments his colds became less frequent, and he is now a robust kid ready to enter elementary school.

What you can do

Common childhood illnesses range from colic, diarrhea and constipation to allergies, asthma, colds, cough, and recurrent ear infections. Young children can also have diaper rash, eczema, cold sores, and injuries. In Chinese medicine, we treat these conditions with pediatric prescriptions made of medicinals that are safe even for young children. What’s important for your children’s health and resilience is their nutrition. Unfortunately, what they usually eat can really undermine their health, and it takes a lot of patience and persistence on your part to feed them what’s really good for them. Avoid processed foods and sugar as best you can.

When are natural treatments such as Chinese medicine or homeopathy appropriate for your child? Observe your child to see if he or she is just uncomfortable or if you notice any signs of serious distress. Most minor illnesses can be alleviated with natural medicine approaches. Often, chronic or recurrent illnesses will respond well, too, especially if they return after repeat courses of antibiotics, which is often the case with ear infections. A licensed health care professional, such as a doctor of Chinese medicine or naturopathic physician, will be able to help you determine when a visit to your pediatrician is advisable.

In my next blog post I will give a brief overview of homeopathy and how it can be used to help your children get and stay healthy.

© 2024 Christiane Siebert