by Doris Rathgeber
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a very specific understanding of children. First of all, yin and yang are out of balance in children. Yang is dominant - children are ruled by the active, hot and bright element. This translates into a tendency of being hyperactive, incapable of staying still and to have a body temperature that gets easily elevated.
Also, in terms of health, they get sick easily, but recover very quickly. Acute diseases, which contrary to chronic diseases, arise rapidly with fever and intense symptoms, then get cured after a few days, mainly touch children. Kids react easily to medication and recover more quickly than adults, which is why they need gentle medical techniques and lower doses of medication.
According to TCM, children’s organs are not complete yet and their organism is still fragile. They have a different constitution than adults: their qi (vital energy) is weak and their organs, bones and muscles are soft and slowly maturing. Children are particularly exposed to suffer from:
- Upper respiratory tract diseases (such as cold, cough, asthma and bronchitis) because their lungs are weak.
- Spleen diseases (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation) because their stomach is sensitive and their digestive system is not complete. They also tend to gain or lose weight easily.
- Liver disturbances because of excessive emotions - as in TCM the liver is associated with the emotions - resulting in children becoming easily emotionally upset with a yang excess.
Among all the factors that can cause a disease in children, the main cause is a non-adapted diet. Indeed, they have a maturing digestive system and cannot digest all types of food. Even if variety is important, forcing children to eat food items they would not want to eat is not beneficial.
Usually children naturally select the food items they know they can easily digest. They also prefer small meals at flexible times to three big meals at adult-appropriate times. Introduce variety gently. Healthy foods will enable children to develop beautifully, as well as to get used to new flavors. Generally, it is best to try to avoid uncooked, frozen and spicy food and serve meals at regular times.
A TCM doctor can effectively and naturally treat the above-mentioned diseases within a short period of time. Those diseases are mainly cured with herbal medicine because it is difficult to practice acupuncture on children who might be afraid of needles and might move during treatment. Mixing in honey or apple juice can help facilitate the intake of Chinese medicine.
TCM is the right solution for parents looking for a natural way to cure their children or prevent other diseases, and not expose them to Western medicine that can sometimes be too strong for them.
// Doris Rathgeber is the founder and General Manager of Body & Soul in Shanghai