TCM for kids

A presentation on TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, for children, was one of the features at last weekend’s PIM conference in NY. So what’s new with one of the world’s oldest healing traditions?


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a whole system of healing based on holistic philosophies involving balance of yin and yang, natural elements of earth, metal, water, fire and wood, mind-body-spirit harmony, and the flow of qi, blood, and moisture. OK, this is a gross oversimplification of one of the world’s oldest medical traditions. Practitioners in the West have long adopted certain TCM methods like acupuncture for very specific conditions, like pain; yet TCM in its true form does not utilize acupuncture piecemeal, nor does it only use one method for each condition or patient. Other TCM healing measures include:

Tui na (massage), which can be tailored specifically for infants and children

-Herbal remedies, which are complex mixtures of animals, plants and minerals; manufacturer Kan Herbs has specific formulations for children, and, as with all botanicals, one must be cognizant of quality control issues – some imported Ayurvedic and TCM products have been contaminated with lead and other metals, as well as mislabeled herbs.

Qi Gong and Tai Chi, both of which are movement-based disciplines aimed at supporting mind-body wellness

-Nutrition and other lifestyle considerations

Pediatric TCM pioneer Efrem Korngold, OMD, LAc has written a nice, concise summary titled Chinese Medicine: Health and Illness in Early Childhood for the Holistic Pediatric Association’s web site. Along with pediatricians Steve Cowan and Larry Baskind, Korngold has developed a model of child temperament based on TCM natural influences; for those who read French, Canadian publication Passeporte Sante has documented their work. If you’d like a translation, go to AltaVista’s Babel Fish web page translation site and select French to English, or French to whatever language you like. It’s pretty cool.


Butkovic D, et al: Comparison of laser acupuncture and metoclopramide in PONV prevention in children. Paediatr Anaesth 15: 37-40, 2005.

Duncan B, et al: Parental perceptions of the therapeutic effect from osteopathic manipulation or acupuncture in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 43: 349-353, 2004.

Kemper KJ, et al: On pins and needles? Pediatric pain patients’ experience with acupuncture. Pediatrics 105 supplement: 941-947, 2000.

Kemper KJ, Highfield ES: When should you consider acupuncture for your patients? Contemp Pediatr 19: 31-46, 2002.

Lin YC, Golianu B: Acupuncture as complementary treatment for cyclic vomiting sydrome. Medical Acupuncture 13(3): 2002.

Melchart D, et al: Acupuncture for recurrent headaches: a systemic review of randomized controlled trials. Cephalalgia 19: 779-786, 1999.

Ng DK, et al: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis. Pediatrics 114: 1242-1247, 2004.

NIH Consensus Development Panel on Acupuncture: Acupuncture consensus conference report. JAMA 280: 1518-1524, 1998.

Pintov S, et al: Acupuncture and the opioid system: implications in the management of migraine. Ped Neurology 17: 129-133, 1997.

Schlager A, et al: Laser stimulation of acupuncture point P6 reduces postoperative vomiting in children undergoing strabismus surgery. Br J Anesth 81: 529-532, 1998.

Vickers AJ, et al: Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomised trial. BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.38029.421863.EB, 2004.

Wang SM, et al: Parental auricular acupuncture as an adjunct for parental presence during induction of anesthesia. Anesthesiology 100: 1399-1404, 2004.

Wang SM, Kain ZN: P6 acupoint injections are as effective as droperidol in controlling early postoperative nausea and vomiting in children. Anesth 97: 359-366, 2002.

Speak Your Mind