Preventing sickness and boosting wellness in kids

When children come to the clinic, it is usually because their parents and carers have been struggling with a health problem and are looking for safe, natural treatment to resolve the problem.

Chinese medicine offers a wealth of techniques, medicines and home-care practices to help children recover from common childhood illnesses.


What happens next?

Once the child has recovered from an illness episode, it’s time to go into prevention mode.  This is when you use at-home care, possibly “constitutional” herbal medicine, and scheduled clinic visits to keep your child on the right track.  We can pick up small imbalances before they turn into big problems.


Why preventative treatments are so important

It can be difficult at first to get across the importance of the “wellness” side of Chinese medicine for kids.  Once you see it in action, you get it.

But our culture truly doesn’t embrace this preventative approach at the moment (we did in the past, and as cycles go, we will again).  We have become reliant on technology to heat our homes and so on, and we are less aware of how vulnerable we are to simple things like the weather.

Diet is a WHOLE other story!!  Suffice to say, we are all confused – deeply confused – about what constitutes good food.  Official “expert advice” changes and flip-flops so often that we are left with a jumble of half-baked ideas and quick-fix rigid diet programs.  And so how on earth do we know how to feed our kids well?

It can be so hard to be a “good” parent amongst all this confusion.


At the heart of wellness is energy

I think at the heart of the difference between the Western and Eastern approach is our attitude towards energy.

In Eastern medicine, energy is precious.  It is the pure substance of the universe and it’s our role to gather it, nuture it and cultivate it within ourselves.  When we spend it, we spend it as though it were gold – in a considered and respectful way, acknowledging its great value.

In the West, at the moment, the health message is something like “energy in – energy out” in terms of not putting on too much fat, so we count calories as we consume them and then exercise to burn them off.  I’m not saying that’s wrong, because that general idea helps a lot of people to keep to a healthy weight.  But we don’t have this understanding that our life force is so precious, it’s a gift and it’s fragile and when we respect and nurture it we do ourselves a great favour.


How the wellness approach works

We combine various methods and knowledge, matched to your level of confidence and knowledge, and to your child’s needs.

This can include things like:

  • Diet advice specific to your child plus general diet guidelines for kids
  • Lifestyle advice eg activities, sleep, clothing
  • Home-care techniques such as massage, vaporisers, poultices, acupressure
  • Herbal “first-aid” kit for problem areas eg cough, ear infections, colds, constipation, phlegm
  • Herbal “constitutional” formulas that address the root imbalance for your child
  • Education about switching between “illness” and “wellness” approaches & how they fit together
  • Regular (eg monthly) clinic visits to detect & treat imbalances before they become bigger problems


Chronic health problems

For children with chronic health problems, we are looking at making episodes of illness shorter, milder and further apart. Between episodes, we use the wellness approach to strengthen the body, regulate the immune system and prevent further problems.

In the beginning, this might be called “maintenance” as we are just trying to maintain the child in a disease-free state for as long as possible between episodes.

At some point, however, we can see that the child is really recovering – getting their own personality, humour and “spark” back. Then I think it is helpful to say that we are doing “wellness” treatments.


Wellness treatments

When I do a wellness treatment, I feel along the energy pathways (also called channels or meridians).  I pick up where there are slight weaknesses or “knots” in the energetic layer, and I simply help the body to clear the blockage or nourish the weak spot.  It’s so simple, but very powerful.

This is removing disease before it becomes “solid,” showing up as visible symptoms. It’s interesting though, that often as I feel a channel I will ask if there are changes in certain areas – such as sleep or appetite – and there often has been a recent change that matches the changes in the channels.

Kids really only need a light touch to get things going in the right direction.  There are reasons for this in Chinese medicine, and I explain more in my workshops or during clinic visits.

A wellness treatment can use any of the techniques that are used for illness treatment.


How often do kids have wellness treatments?

As with a lot of things, it depends on the child.  Those with chronic conditions like asthma, eczema or recurrent ear infections usually cycle through periods of maintenance wellness treatments, say, every two to four weeks, and then coming more regularly if there are active symptoms.  Other children might come every six to eight weeks for a wellness treatment, and then have a few treatments in a row if there is illness.


In short…

Chinese medicine wellness treatments and the wellness approach are about taking control of those little things that we can – like eating nourishing food, going to bed at a decent hour, having a good balance between work and rest, and doing what we can to reduce stress and the effects of harmful emotions. It is also about treating infections like common cold in the very early stages, to help the body recover more quickly.

We can’t control the weather, but we can control what we wear and do in different climates.  With all of THAT taken care of, then it’s a hugely positive step to have regular treatments that let the body indicate where it needs help and support, so it can use its very own incredibly complex and wise healing systems to allow the healing process to flow.