Shonishin (children’s needle therapy) is a unique and specialised pediatric style of acupuncture that developed over 250 years ago in Japan.
It recognises that children do not like needles and has instead developed specialised treatment techniques, many of which are non-invasive and thus not frightening to the child. The channels and points are stimulated with a variety of rounded silver, gold and stainless steel tools that are gently pressed, rubbed, tapped or scraped on the skin instead of inserted, to give different kinds of gentle stimulation. When applied for short periods of time in simple systematic patterns, these simple treatment techniques have been found effective for a wide variety of paediatric problems from birth through to age five or older.
The key to successful Shonishin treatment is “less is better”. Dramatic results can be obtained even with very light treatment.
As children get older and/or their problems are more difficult or stubborn, specialised acupuncture techniques and insertion methods have also been developed and tailored to match the needs of children, so that they are comfortable and acceptable to both the child and the parent. Very thin needles (0.12mm) are inserted very shallowly and retained for a short time, often as little as a few seconds. Small moxa cones, cupping and metal press spheres may all be used to regulate the child’s energy, all with the aim of causing minimal discomfort. Other treatment modalities used with children include herbal supplements and dietary recommendations.
Children’s physiological and energetic systems are not mature and they are at the most “yang” phase of their development, so their energy (Qi) transforms quickly and health problems can progress rapidly. The general Shonishin treatment can be very useful for fortifying the child’s vital energy and strengthening their constitution. The treatment will not only help symptoms to naturally improve, but nutures a greater sense of well-being and helps to resolve many other small day to day problems, helping make the child less prone to illness. The basic treatment has the added advantage of being easily taught to parents so that they can use it regularly at home, thus increasing frequency of treatment and allowing parents to participate actively in the treatment of their children. This tends to reinforce the effects of treatment and helps make it more enjoyable for everyone.
The beauty of Shonishin is its gentleness and effectiveness. Shonishin is able to support recovery in a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Irritability and impatience, temper tantrums, anxiety
- Excessive crying at night
- Attention problems in small and school age children
- Dream disturbed sleep and night terrors, poor sleep
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Chronic stuffy or runny nose (form repeated colds or allergies)
- Weakened immune system – the child that catches cold easily or has recurrent viral infections
- Weak constitution including infants with inadequate weight gain, frail children that are not as active as others, failure to thrive
- Rashes, including urticaria
- Neurological problems
- Ear infections, usually chronic or repetitive
The specifics of the treatment (frequency, dosage, strength) depend on the age and condition of the child. Generally speaking, the older the child or the chronic the condition, the longer the treatment.
Shonishin and other techniques can be of immense support when a child is ill, but can also be utlised on a preventative basis to support the child’s development. Treating children with these natural therapies can not only benefit their health today, but also build a strong foundation for their future health and well-being.
What happens during the treatment
For young children (babies and young children up to 12 years) I schedule in 45 minutes for the first appointment and 30 minutes for follow ups. Older children may require a longer treatment time of 45 minutes.
After a discussion of your child’s symptoms and medical history, the pulse is taken in order to make a diagnosis. Treatment consists of stimulating the meridians and skin, then specific points are stimulated to address the presenting syndrome and symptoms. A small ‘press sphere’ may then be placed on the skin that is usually removed a few hours later. During the first few treatment, the homecare protocol will be taught.