My Bookshelf: Keeping Your Child Healthy With Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is so beneficial for adults, but it is just as beneficial for children! Children even respond more quickly to treatments than adults because of their young age and increased self-healing ability. If you’re wondering how Chinese medicine can help children, I want to recommend a book to read explaining it all!

Keeping your child healthy with chinese medicine

Keeping Your Child Healthy With Chinese Medicine: A Parent’s Guide to the Care and Prevention of Common Childhood Diseases is a fabulous book to read to learn about children and Chinese medicine. Bob Flaws does a thorough job of explaining how things work in the body of a child. He goes through some of the main causes of most children’s diseases. He also gives recommendations on how to help your child not get sick – hint, it begins with the diet. He also discuses other ways to prevent diseases and promote health from Traditional Chinese Medicine theory.

Just some of the topics he discusses include: neonatal jaundice, colic, vomiting of milk, diarrhea, constipation, diaper rash, cradle cap, teething, fever, ear infections, cough, pediatric pneumonia and asthma, strep throat, bed-wetting, allergies, hyperactivity, chickenpox, and traumatic injuries.

I highly recommend Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine, especially if you have any little ones running around, whether you are the parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandparent or babysitter.
“In TCM pediatrics, it is believed that children are not simply miniature adults. Rather, children are immature physically and functionally according to Chinese medicine, and most of the common pediatric complaints are due to this immaturity.”
Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine p.7
There’s always so much to learn and remember to be open to other paradigms. The best health plan incorporates Eastern and Western medicine!

Traditional Chinese Medicine Terms

Acupuncture needles in gua sha spoon

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encompasses a variety of modalities including acupuncture, cupping, tui na, gua sha, moxa, herbal therapy, and food therapy.

Acupuncture has been practiced for 3000-5000 years. It is defined as the insertion of sterile, disposable, single-use needles into acupuncture points throughout the entire body. The points are located on meridians that course throughout the body. Through the use of acupuncture points, a particular effect may be obtained because each point has specific functions. There are as many as 2,000 points.

Cupping is the use of glass cups to create a suction of the skin. The most common place to cup is the back, legs, hips and shoulders. Cupping is the therapeutic use of suction to increase blood and oxygen flow to the area. This helps relax the muscles, stimulate acupuncture points and decrease pain. Cupping helps with conditions of coughing, pain, poor sleep and more. Bruises are a common side effect of cupping, depending on the patient’s condition and constitution; the bruises should only last 3-7 days.

Electrical Stimulation Acupuncture (E-Stim) is the use of a tens unit along with the acupuncture points to provide constant and measurable stimulation to the desired points. E-stim is effective with increasing the results of post-stroke symptoms and reducing pain.

Gua sha, meaning “scraping sha – bruising” is the use of a spoon, jade or other utensil that scrapes the skin to produce light bruising. This releases unhealthy elements and increases blood flow and healing.

Herbal therapy has been around for thousands of years. It is a useful complement to acupuncture treatments because while a person may only get acupuncture treatments weekly, monthly or as needed, a person may take herbs daily to address certain symptoms and support their constitution. Herbs are great for balancing the body and for addressing: digestion, emotions, sleep, women’s issues, common colds and flu.

Moxibustion (moxa) is the use of the herb, mugwort, topically to increase energy, reduce pain and benefit the overall constitution.

Tui na “twee- nah” is a combination of massage and acupressure that uses the meridians and acupuncture points to increase the movement of qi and reduce pain.

Acupuncture Ally: Food Therapy

Every food, liquid, spice and condiment has properties that the East recognizes, including temperature of food, taste (sour, sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent), acidity, channels affects and the effect of the food. This shows us that food is more than just food; food is actually the simplest form of medicine. What we eat really does make up what our body has to fuel itself on.

Rules to Eating:

  • Eat slowly and only when you are hungry.
  • Be in a calm environment, don’t eat when you are upset or angry.
  • Stop eating when you are about 75% full. A piece of helpful advice from a previous teacher of mine: the moment you stop tasting what you’re eating and/or the moment you could ‘take it or leave it’ you should stop.
  • Be aware of how you feel before you eat and after you eat. Your body is really smart and will tell you if it doesn’t like something, although it may be difficult to pick up on these clues initially. Sensitivities may be in the form of abdominal upset and bowel movements, or things such as skin rashes or headaches.


  • Warm foods: either cooked, steamed, baked, etc. Warm foods are easier for your spleen and stomach to digest.
  • Easily digestible foods such as soups and congee. These foods are easy on your spleen and stomach, and can actually help them work better, leading to better digestion and health.
  • For the season, in the summer it is okay to eat cooler foods, such as watermelon, to cool your body. However, if you are in the air conditioning all day long, you will want to take that into account. In the winter, it is better to eat hot and warm foods to nourish and warm your body.
  • Include protein and healthy fats in your breakfast to properly fuel your body and to reduce the amount of cravings later in the day.


  • Fried food, sugar, alcohol. These foods have properties that cause stagnation. When stagnation occurs, it can eventually turn to heat. Stagnation, heat and cold can damage your stomach’s ability to “rotten and ripen” the food and inpair the function of the spleen to “transform and transport” the nutrients.
  • Cold, raw foods are hard on your stomach and spleen and may cause bloating, gas and loose stools. In The Tao of Healthy Eating, Flaws explains how our body is able to absorb more of the nutrients in cooked foods opposed to raw foods.
  • Processed food. The ultimate goal should be to be eating whole, real foods. Our body doesn’t know what to do with processed food, even taking into account the artificial sweeteners. In that case, it’s better to have real sugar; at least our body knows what to do with it.
  • Speaking of sugar, we can’t stress enough how important it is to reduce our sugar consumption altogether. Sugar causes stagnation and phlegm, and therefore may cause pain, along with many other symptoms.
  • Dairy… yes dairy. It can also cause phlegm and stagnation. A little dairy is ok, if your body tells you it is ok. But be aware of how it makes you feel.
  • Eating close to bedtime. If you eat too close to when you go to sleep, your body will be trying to digest the food when it should be focusing on other body systems. Eating close to bedtime may result in poor sleep. Refrain from eating two hours before bed.

Recommended Reading:

The Tao of Healthy Eating by Bob Flaws: Summarizes the theory behind Traditional Chinese Medicine and digestion and how the body works.
Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics by David Leggett: “a beginners guide to nutrition according to the principles of Chinese medicine.”