Hello. My name is Suzy McCleary. I am a Dr of Chinese Medicine, former pediatric nurse, a wife and a mum passionate about the health & well being of our 2 beautiful children. I have a passion for raising happy, healthy children both my own & those in the wider community. I know first hand what a challenge it can be. At AcuKids, we hope to inform you, inspire you & provided you with a mountain of useful nurturing & nourishing tips to help you heal & grow your family naturally.
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Acupuncture for Kids Health
Taming your Teething Tiger Naturally.
Has your perfectly happy baby suddenly become a bundle of misery? Are they trying to chew everything in sight including the pet dog. It’s might well be the dreaded teething time. A teething baby can mean sleepless nights, irritability, crying, poor appetite, swollen gums and constant drool. It can be a distressing time not only for your baby but for the whole family. But it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully Chinese Medicine has some amazing ancient wisdom that can really make a difference. Here are some simple tips I have used successfully to relieve the discomfort of teething and reduce future pain and fever naturally.
What is Teething?
Teething is a normal physiological process and a required part of growth and development. Yes, we need those chompers. The first teeth, usually appear around 6 months and teething is usually completed around 2 1/2 years of age. Although many babies just cruise through teething without any fuss, for some babies it can be an extremely uncomfortable time, including pain and fever. According to traditional Chinese Medicine the symptoms that are often associated with teething are as a result of an imbalance in the body, namely the digestive system.
Why is teething so troublesome?
Many babies start teething around the time that foods are introduced to their diet. However children are born with an inherently weak digestive system, which is easily overwhelmed. This may occur as a result of over feeding, or feeding your baby or toddler processed foods high in refined flour and sugar.
If the babies digestive system is overwhelmed it has difficulty keeping pace with detoxification and elimination. Babies and toddlers can easily develop what is know as food stagnation. Food can sit undigested in the stomach or the intestines. This produces additional heat.
How does my child’s diet relate to teething pain and fever?
According to traditional Chinese Medicine the internal organs of the body are connected to the outside of the body by channels or pathways known as meridians. Like an invisible wire that carries energy. It is along these meridians that signs and symptoms of imbalances in the body can be seen. For example, the stomach meridian passes through the stomach and along the lower jaw and the Large Intestine passes through the intestines and along the upper jaw. During teething we often see red and inflamed gums. This is caused by the teeth pushing through the gum. However, if there is food stagnation in the stomach producing additional heat, this heat travels along the meridian towards the gums. The combination of the two factors can cause teething to be more painful and a fever may occur.
What can I do?
A simple diet.
Ensure your baby eats a simple diet of easily digestible, nutritionally dense foods, including cooked vegetables, bone broth and cooked fruit provided they have started solids. Avoid any processed foods or foods that are greasy or full of refined flour & sugar. Promoting daily bowel movements is also very important and can help relieve food stagnation.
Ensure adequate rest. Rest promotes healing and is essential for growth and development. Take the opportunity to have a rest too if you can.
Chamomile Tea is another favorite for relieving the discomfort of teething. By dipping a face washer in freshly brewed tea which has cooled & allowing your baby to suck on it, the chamomile relieves the irritability as well as the pain. An excellent all natural homeopathic remedy is Weleda’s Baby Teething Powder. Made with Chamomile root & Oyster shell it helps soothe irritation and lessens the pain associated with teething as well as calm irritability. Personally I found this worked brilliantly!!
Provide a frozen face washer, BPA free teether ring. The coldness will feel wonderful on their sore red and inflamed gums. It is also essential to rub or brush your babies gums or teeth.
Acupressure. There are a number of specific acupuncture points that you can massage to help relieve the discomfort of teething. These points can ease baby’s teething pain, promotes digestion & clear the heat from the digestive system contributing to the inflammation of the gums. Each point can be massaged for 1-2 minutes using gentle yet firm pressure. Simply sign-up to our webpage and you will be able to download a FREE help sheet outlining the recommended points to use.
Make an appointment with your Acupuncturist. Your practitioner will have many different options including non needle techniques which are an effective treatment to rebalance your baby’s digestive system & help ease the pain & discomfort of teething. Acupuncture can calm the nervous system and clear inflammation making it an excellent choice for teething babies.
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What is Puberty?
In both Western and Chinese medicine, puberty is a time of rapid growth. It is the time when a young person’s sexual and reproductive organs mature and they are capable of reproducing. In Western medicine, puberty begins when the brain is cued to produce a substance called gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH. This activates the pituitary gland in the brain, which signals the ovaries to produce estrogen, one of the key hormones required for puberty to begin. Physical changes include growing taller, increasing body weight, breast development, hair growth and the beginning of menache or menstruation. According to Chinese medicine, at age seven, a girl’s qi (pronounced chee) begins to thrive. By age 14, the qi is strong and robust, thereby allowing the girl to transform into a woman at the onset of the heavenly waters. The arrival of the heavenly waters depends upon the proper balanced functioning of a young girl’s organ systems and the smooth relaxed flow of qi and blood throughout the body.
What is Precocious Puberty?
The age at which our young girls are reaching puberty has dropped dramatically over the last 100 years. Where, in the past, it was common for girls to enter puberty around 14 years of age, we are now seeing girls entering puberty before the age of 12 and some even earlier than that. The appearance of secondary sex characteristics before the age of eight years old is know as precocious puberty. There are numerous theories as to why this precocious puberty is occurring, but no one factor stands out alone. Instead, it appears to be a multitude of factors, each playing their part in a concert of sorts. These factors are:
1 – Environmental toxins
2 – Obesity
3 – Stress.
In Chinese medicine, sexual development is related to something called the “life gate fire”. This fire is considered the basis of life, and thereby the basis of sexual development and reproductive functions. Chinese Medicine identifies three syndromes that can cause this fire to be ignited prematurely, resulting in precocious puberty. These include:
1 – Deficiency of Liver and Kidney yin
2 – Liver qi stagnation
3 – Damp Heat Accumulation
Environmental Toxins and Deficiency of Liver and Kidney yin.
Environmental Toxins are everywhere. Since WWII, children are at risk of exposure to more than 85,000 synthetic chemical compounds.
These chemical compounds have been found to contain ‘endocrine disruptors” which have been linked to the development of precocious puberty. Over 100 pesticide compounds have been identified as endocrine disruptors and human consumption of them has nearly quadurapled in the last 40 years.
Endocrine disruptors are thought to contribute to the acceleration of onset of puberty in females. The structural similarity of endocrine disruptors with estrogen allow them to mimic natural hormones and act as though they were the key to the receptor “locks” and trick the cells into thinking that they are hormones. They bind and activate estrogen receptors and show a similar response even in the absence of estrogen. They can also block or modulate the synthesis, release, transportation, metabolism, and elimination of normal hormones. This can all lead to precocious puberty.
From the Chinese Medicine perspective, a child’s body is considered purely yang, and children have a tender and delicate yin-yang balance because their bodies are not yet fully developed. During this time of rapid growth and development, yang qi dominates, creating a state of relative yin deficiency. This yin deficiency in children, can be exacerbated by environmental toxins which can cause the fire to stir, leading premature puberty to begin.
These environmental toxins are used in everyday products, equipment used in the home or office, in our water, our food and in the air we breathe. They can transfer from mother to fetus, via placenta or to baby via breast milk. They are found in cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning products, baby and children’s toys, food storage containers, furniture, carpets, computers and phones and the fire retardant materials used in pajamas and school uniforms. The exposure to certain chemical substances in the environment, some of them naturally occurring, others synthetic has raised concerns that early human exposure, even low doses could have adverse effects on health and development in childhood.
Most of these substances often accumulate in fat tissue, which leads us to the next potential cause.
Obesity and Damp Heat Accumulation
Numerous studies suggest that being overweight is associated with early puberty in girls. This is because fat cells not only store toxic chemicals, but they also manufacture the hormone estrogen. This additional source of estrogen found in excess body fat results in earlier breast development in young girls. Children with a higher fat content also have elevated levels of leptin, which can cause the brain to release further hormones essential for puberty. This also causes the development of secondary sexual characteristics including wider hips and increase fat deposits around the thighs and buttocks making the process even faster.
Chinese Medicine also identifies the relationship between obesity and the early stirring of the “life gate fire”. Damp heat accumulation is related to poor diet which often leads to obesity. The spleen and stomach are responsible for transforming and transporting the food and fluids we consume, and they can easily be damaged by processed foods, sugary drinks, artificial flavors and additives. These foods overwhelm the digestive system, leading to food stagnation. This food can sit undigested in the digestive system, generating heat and dampness known collectively as damp heat. This damp heat stirs the “life gate fire”, contributing to early puberty.
Stress and Liver Qi Stagnation
Early puberty can also be triggered in girls who experience psychological stress as a result of growing up in households with high levels of family stress, violence and conflict. This social stress and deprivation (i.e. parental stress, contentious divorce, adoption and sexual abuse) are also well known to negatively affect the physical health in children.
Psychological and emotional stress can also cause the Liver qi to stagnate. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi around the body. When this does not occur due to undue stress placed on a girl, it caused the liver to become stagnated. Once stagnated, it can generate heat and fire, stirring the “life gate fire”, leading to early puberty.
What are the consequences?
Early puberty has more consequences than just the physical, it can impact the emotional wellbeing and increase the potential for further psychological stress on our young girls. Girls may appear older than they are and may be subjected to sexual innuendos or teasing. This can occur well before the girls are emotionally or physiologically ready to deal with such issues.
Another consequence is that early puberty means early estrogen production. Estrogen represses growth by closing epiphyses in puberty. This means that girls are starting puberty and getting their periods well before their pubescent growth spurt at around 12-14 years. This early epiphyseal maturation can lead to compromised final height.
What can we do?
- Ensure children maintain a healthy weight, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Breastfeed your babies, if possible.
- Maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
- Engage in regular physical activity.
- Provide infants and children natural wooden toys.
- Use glass bottles for feeding your infants and stainless steel water bottles for your children.
- Avoid plastic containers, especially those containing BPA.
- Never heat food in plastic, as the heat causes toxic compounds to leach out of the plastic and enter your food.
- Avoid pesticide and herbicide use around the home.
- Avoid or reduce the amount of prepackaged processed food and food packaged in tins.
- Avoid sugary drinks and sweets.
- Avoid products that contain fragrance. This includes many natural as well as synthetic scents.
- Provide healthy role models for our children by maintaining a healthy body weight yourself and making good food choices.
- Providing a nurturing emotional environment at home.
- Provide support for children who have experienced abuse or a high stress environment.
- Ensure appropriate sun exposure to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D.
- Talk to your acupuncturist or Chinese Herbal Medicine Doctor about how they can help.
Our young girls are a precious gift. Chinese medicine reminds us that developing and maintaining a balanced qi is important for their healthy transition to womanhood. Girls are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment, are easily affected by stress, and the rise in childhood obesity is having a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. Although the exact reason for this rise in precocious puberty is not yet known, it is clear that there are many potential avenues for endocrine disruptors to affect timing of puberty in girls. We need to use the knowledge and lessons of Chinese medicine to maintain balance and help keep little girls just that until they are ready to become women.
If you liked this article and would like to know more about the benefits of Chinese Medicine in helping to nurture your children naturally be sure to sign up to our blog at www.acukids.com.au or follow us on Facebook and instagram
What is in our environment that effects puberty?
Reprod Toxicol. 2014 Apr;44:7-14.
Sexual precocity after immigration from developing countries to Belgium: evidence of previous exposure to organochlorine pesticides.
Hum Reprod. 2001 May;16(5):1020-6.
Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children’s Study.
Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Oct;111(13):1678-82.
Estrogen-like endocrine disrupting chemicals affecting puberty in humans–a review.
Med Sci Monit. 2009 Jun;15(6):RA137-45.
Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Pubertal Development
J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2011 Mar; 3(1): 1–6.
Have your kids ever felt stuck inside on a beautiful day because a few minutes outdoors brings on sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchy, watery eyes? Does your child have allergies that make them miserable year-round?
It’s awful when your kids are suffering from allergies!
Instead of running around outside or riding their bikes they’d rather stay inside! When allergies get really bad, kids can’t sleep well, they’re tired, and then everything’s just off!
Medications can help alleviate symptoms, but they’re not really getting to the root of the problem.
Claritin and Zyrtec can help, but they may have unwanted side effects like headaches. And they’re certainly not going to reverse allergies, they’re just masking the problem. In some cases, the medications don’t work well at all!
But, there is an approach to Allergies that not only treats them, but heals the root cause.
It’s the Chinese medicine approach and it involves a comprehensive program that’s simple to put into place. It treats allergy symptoms, while also working to heal the underlying root cause. It involves a few key strategies (as seen below):
To effectively treat allergies naturally, you can’t just replace allergy medicine with an herbal formula.
You actually need to use several different remedies, make some dietary changes, and try other approaches. in order to address your child’s unique set of symptoms. And Robin Green is teaching parents the step-by-step approach in her upcoming online class
The class is being held live online on Monday, April 11th at 10 am Pacific. This is 3am Sydney (Australia) on Tuesday morning. But don’t worry if you have signed up for the class you will have access to the recording, plus her mini-guide on treating allergies.
So, you can join Robin from anywhere in the world!
To find out more information on why you should’t miss this online class click on the following link. A chinese medicine class for parents
Chinese Medicine always advocates treating winter diseases in summer and summer diseases in winter. This is also true for spring and autumn illnesses. So in order to prepare for next spring now is a perfect time to start improving the health of your child so that they can breeze through the allergy season.
Click on the following link to sign-up for Robin Green’s : Allergy Remedies for Kids that really work.
For over a decade Robin has worked with kids who have allergies and she has seen many cases of allergies resolve with this step-by-step approach. If your kids have allergies, I hope you’ll check it out.
Just so you know, I am an affiliate for this class. If you register for the class, you support acukids.com.au at no additional cost to yourself. Thank you for the support!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Do you experience the dreaded bedtime battle? The “I don’t want to go to bed!!” “It’s still light outside.” “I’m still playing” I personally, have heard them all. Children often do not want to go to bed despite being exhausted at the end of the day. Going to bed means missing out on things.
But there is more than one good reason why we need to get our littlies into bed. As well as fostering bonding and helping your child wind down, reading to your children may have a more scientific advantage.
A new research study has shown that children who are regularly read to actually activate more as well as different parts of their brain and build different networks then those who aren’t read to regularly.
In order to help bed time stories become a part of your evening routine the following steps can help.
- Develop a routine that works for both you and your child. This may include dinner, bath, putting on PJ’s, teeth cleaning, stories & then goodnight kisses & cuddles.
- Before the bedtime routine begins it is a good idea to let them know that bedtime is coming. Let them know “one more game”, then time for your bath etc.
Avoid overstimulating activity during the 30 minutes prior to bed. This includes tickles, wrestles, quarrels or TV .
For more information on how reading to children helps more than just their imagination, click on the following link. Bedtime Stories for Young Brains
With a significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with behavioural problems including hyperactivity, ADHD, and autism, parents are looking for solutions.
You may be wonder how you can help your child to become more focused, improve their sleep, and reduce hyperactive behaviour. Fortunately, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has some powerful tools and ancient wisdom that can help. What really made the TCM wisdom I learned important to helping parents was traveling in Tibet where this thing called “screen time” didn’t exist.
Screen Time = Zombie Time?!?
Having two very active children myself, I have seen the effects TV or any screen time can have. My little cherub goes from a fun loving, busy interactive child to a complete zombie. A bomb can go off and he would not notice. He is totally in the “TV Zone.” No eye contact. No verbal response and then agitated and having extreme tantrums when the TV or tablet is disconnected. I’m sure many parents you can relate!
According to TCM, the shen or vitality and mental/emotional health of a person can be assessed through the eyes. While in Tibet, I noticed a striking difference in the shen of local people and their children as compared to those residing in Western countries.
The Tibetan people have a sparkle in their eyes – not just a little glimmer, but a sparkle that shimmers like a bucket full of stars. The most intense eyes I have ever seen! You won’t find any zombie kids in Tibet!
The Lifestyle of Tibetan Children vs. Western Children
I found myself wondering why this could be? Was it the simplicity of their lifestyle? Or maybe their diet? Or a combination of both?
The Tibetan children that I met lived a very simple life, playing freely with their friends with only one or two simple toys like a truck or a doll. Many played games involving sticks, rocks, or whatever they could find in nature. There were no televisions, computer games, fancy bikes, or tablets yet there were plenty of laughter and giggles. Tears and tantrums were fairly uncommon.
In direct contrast to children in Western society, we as parents are often preoccupied, occupying our children with a myriad of toys, activities, stimulation, and screen time. But is this healthy?
Children are considered delicate and extremely fragile according to TCM. They tend to have an abundance of energy and when joyful, they play games where they run, jump, laugh, and get excited. However, improper dietary and lifestyle habits easily affect their delicate nature leading to issues with the shen and eventually causing illness and disease.
The Importance of Emotions
According to TCM, there are five emotions as part of human nature that can affect the physical health of the child. These include: anger, joy, fear, sadness & pensiveness or despair. When one of these emotions becomes particularly intense, it can become a cause of disease.
For example, it is said that the heart houses the mind (otherwise known as the shen), and regulates the emotions, consciousness, and intelligence. The shen has a tendency to be easily affected by heat. Heat is easily created through overstimulation and screen time.
If a child remains excited for too long by being continually stimulated, this excess heat transforms into fire. Its flames flare up and affect the child’s heart, causing the shen to move excessively and become scattered.
Translation: the child gets tired, quarrelsome and touchy.
In cases of excess heat or fire from overstimulation the child may:
- Act impetuously
- Find it difficult to play quietly
- Appear agitated
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Be restless
- Have difficulty in sustaining attention
- Experience disturbed sleep
- Be hyperactive
Why Does this Happen?
The child’s shen has become “overwhelmed” from the constant bombardment of stimuli. They’re not mentally ready to be placed in a wide variety of different situations that affect them emotionally and mentally. Like most things it is only when these things are in excess that illness or disease will occur.
If their life is filled to the brim with school, homework, sporting activities, and play dates, they do not have enough rest physically and mentally to restore their body. They start to draw on their reserves causing dark rings under their eyes or frequent colds and coughs.
Activities that can damage a child’s shen include:
- Too much time on activities that require full scale involvement
- Playing too many video and computer games
- Watching continuous hours of television
- Lack of outdoor play and physical activity
- Staying up too late
- Too many expectations that conflict with their own nature
- Lack of appropriate boundaries and discipline
- Constant pressure to get a move on
- Over consumption of processed foods leading to undernourishment
Small steps that Parents can take to Help.
Although acupuncturists have lots of tricks up their sleeve, as a parent it is easy to become overwhelmed. I find that just adding one thing at a time really helps. Once I have gotten a handle on that particular change then I can move onto the next step. This helps to reduce what seems like a dauntingly huge task.
How Do We Nurture a Child’s Shen?
- Allow time for consolidation & repetition. Children want to hear the same stories, go through the same rituals, hug the same teddy bear.
- Normal physical activities help to maintain health and strengthen the body’s ability to resist disease. Encourage outdoor play where kids can run, jump, skip, and climb. Outdoor play also helps children to be imaginative, expressing themselves and learn about the world in their own way. This all promotes autonomy, decision-making, and organisational skills.
- Proper rest can relieve the weariness of the body and mind as well as restore physical strength and mental power. Allow children down time.
- Encourage parents to nurture their child. Respect and listen to them. They are only little for such a short time, so be present in the moment with them.
- Give children the opportunity for creative play without the stimulation of the television or computers. Get involved with their pretend magical play. I have found from personal experiencing that limiting or even removing screen time can make a significant difference. A child’s imagination is limitless and given the opportunity to explore it, is magical to watch.
- Provide a healthy well balanced diet, eating real food including good oils and fats, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, organic meat, and full fat dairy. Remove additives, processed foods and especially soft drink or soda.
Beneficial supplements I recommend as an Acupuncturist:
- Cod liver oil
- Natural Vitamin D. At least 15 minutes a day playing out in the sun. No sunscreen or hats. Ideally either before 11am or after 4 pm when the UV index is at a safe level.
- Probiotics. Best sources naturally from food. This including including yoghurt, sauerkraut, kifir or kombucha just to name a few. Another great source of probiotics is letting your child dig in the garden. Another great reason to plant a veggie garden if you can.
Benefits when Screen-time is limited?
After several days of the television being removed and it finally stopped being the centre of his world our little boy returned. To our amazement all of the following occurred. He became:
- and better able to concentrate
He was able to settle easier at night following his bedtime stories and his sleep improved.
It’s not easy to eliminate or even reduce screen time in our IT riddled world, but on so many levels the benefits that is has are profound. Each child reacts differently to screen time, but if you are having trouble with it ruling your life and the life of your child it is definitely worth the effort. It is amazing what your children will discover and what you will discover about your child.