Written by Wong Seok Peng, Class of 2016
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Pediatric Massage
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Pediatric Massage is an external treatment method where physicians apply massage techniques to specific points on the child’s body to treat disease and strengthen the immunity of the child. It has strict compliance with the principles of TCM clinical diagnosis and is based on the physiological and pathological characteristics of children. Since ancient time, Pediatric Massage has played an important role in disease prevention and medical treatment of children. The theory and practical experience of Pediatric Massage contain the essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and provide a natural, safe, simple and effective method for children’s health.
Benefits of TCM pediatric massage
1. Treatment of disease
TCM Pediatric Massage can be used to treat a wide range of diseases in children including cough, flu, fever, asthma, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, stomachache, enuresis, reduced appetite and disrupted sleep. When a child has a disease, by massaging a certain part of the child’s body, the corresponding Zang-Fu organs in the body will produce the corresponding physiological changes through the meridians, regulating their internal Zang-Fu organs and achieve the purpose of healing.
2. Improving the immunity
In addition to treatment of diseases, Pediatric Massage can also be used to strengthen the health and immunity of the child, improving their body constitution and increase the child’s resistance against diseases. Modern research has showed that Pediatric Massage has a positive effect on the physiological functions of the body.
Pediatric physiology from the perspective of TCM
Firstly, their internal Zang-Fu organs are delicate and their physiological functions have yet to be fully matured and developed. A newborn child is like a budding sprout, the body structure and physiological functions of the organs in the body are still at a growth and development stage. Three of the internal Zang-Fu organs Qi deficiencies are more prominent – Lung, Spleen and Kidney Qi.
In TCM, Lung governs Qi of the whole body, regulates water passage and possesses the physiological function of diffusing the defensive Qi and Essence onto the skin and fine hair. The deficient Lung-qi in children results in weaker diffusion of the defensive Qi and Essence onto the skin and hair, causing them to be more vulnerable to external pathogens and is subjected to catching cold more easily as compared to adults.
The Spleen governs the transformation of foodstuff into Essence, absorbing and transporting it to the whole body. This signifies that the Spleen-qi can promote the digestion of food taken in, absorption of the foodstuff Essence and further distributing the Essence to nourish the body. Deficient Spleen-qi in children can result in weaker digestion, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, poor appetite and bloated stomach.
The Kidney is the root for storage, being in charge of storing Essence. The Kidney-essence is the material basis for generation of Kidney-qi. The physiological effects of the Essence-qi in the Kidney are firstly to promote growth, development and reproduction. In addition, the Kidney governs water and has the ability to control and regulate the distribution and excretion of water in the body so as to maintain the water metabolism balance. The Kidney and Urinary Bladder form an exterior-interior relation through their meridians’ connection and affiliation. The storage and discharge of urine by the Urinary Bladder is regulated by the Kidney. Deficiency of Kidney-qi in children will result in the loss in control of the Urinary Bladder and cause enuresis.
Secondly, the children have vibrant and rapid growth. Ancient physicians pointed out that the body constitution of a child is full of Yang energy, like a rising sun in the morning. Both their physical body as well as physiological function of the internal Zang-fu organs are growing and developing at a rapid rate. They require a lot of foodstuff Essence to nourish their body. The younger the child is, the faster the speed of growth, the greater the nutritional needs. Hence, it is common to see “excess Yang, insufficient Yin” body constitution in a child.
How does TCM Pediatric Massage works
Pediatric Massage not only uses points from the fourteen main channels and eight extra channels found in adults, it also uses specific points that can only be found in children. These specific points can be found all over the body, but are mainly concentrated on the palm of the children. Compared to the adults, the points can not only be a “point” on the body, but also a “line” or “surface area”.
For example, Xiao Tian Xin (小天心) is a point located on the base of the palm of children, between the thenar and hypothenar. It can be used to treat children with disrupted sleep at night, convulsion, sore eyes and mouth ulcer.
San Guan (三关) is an example of a line located on the radial side of the arm, starting from the wrist to the elbow. It can be used to nourish the Qi and Blood, warm the body and relieve cold, used in the treatment of wind-cold diseases, stomachache, diarrhea, weakness in the four limbs etc.
On the threaded surface of the child’s five fingers, is the Wu Jing (五经) point, an example of a surface area point. Starting from the thumb to the small finger, they represent Pi Jing (脾经), Gan Jing (肝经), Xin Jing (心经), Fei Jing (肺经) and Shen Jing (肾经) respectively. They can be used to regulate the functions of the internal Zang-fu organs in children.
When a child has a disease, by massaging the various points on the child’s body, it can improve Qi and Blood circulation, balance the Yin and Yang in their body and regulate the internal Zang-fu organ function to achieve the purpose of healing. At the same time, it can also strengthen the health and immunity of the child, improving their body constitution and increase the child’s resistance against diseases.
Advantages of TCM Pediatric Massage
It is clinically proven that Pediatric Massage is effective in treating common disease and frequently-occurring diseases in children. The efficacy may be faster as compared to long-term medication especially when treating certain diseases such as long-term Spleen deficiency diarrhea, disturbed sleep at night and enuresis.
2. Safe to apply with no harmful side effects
Sometimes inappropriate dosage or harmful side effects can occur when taking oral medication. For Pediatric Massage, with the correct diagnosis of the disease and treatment method, there isn’t much danger or safety issue involved. Hence, nowadays more parents are keen on seeking Pediatric Massage treatment as an alternative to oral medication.
3. Helps prevent the relapse of the disease
Pediatric Massage complies with the basic theory of TCM and targets the etiology of the disease when treating diseases. Through the various massage techniques, it can improve Qi and Blood circulation, regulate the internal Zang-fu organ function to achieve the purpose of healing. For children with weaker body constitution, Pediatric Massage can not only help cure diseases, it can also increase the child’s immunity and strengthen the body constitution.
4. More easily accepted by children
Parents often faced the problem of feeding oral medication to their child as such medication can be quite bitter. It is not uncommon to see the feeding process a struggle between both the parents and child, increasing the difficulty of the treatment. Pediatric Massage uses light, gentle massage techniques and is more easily accepted by the child, eliminating the fear faced by the child during the treatment process.
Indications and restrictions
Pediatric Massage is suitable for children 12 years old and below and can be used to help treat a wide range of diseases in children including cough, flu, fever, asthma, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, stomachache, enuresis, reduced appetite and disrupted sleep.
It is not suitable for children with infectious disease such as chicken pox, hand-foot-mouth disease and measles, fractures and open wound, cancer and bleeding disorders.