Asthma is a fairly common pediatric issue here in the greater Houston area. I have yet to meet a parent who is thrilled about giving their infant or small child regular doses of medication to control asthma. That being said, it is absolutely vital that you always have an inhaler on hand to treat acute outbreaks of wheezing. Acupuncture can open the airways and relieve wheezing, but how quickly can you get to an acupuncturist. Western medicine is terrific at treating these acute outbreaks.
Let's take a look at the chronic or remission phase. The majority of people affected by asthma have environmental triggers such as pollution, pollen, dust, dander, pet hair, and second hand smoke. There is little we can do to completely eliminate these triggers unless we wish to submit ourselves or our children to a life inside of a bubble. We all know that is not a viable option, so what should we do? One option many people choose is to use prescription medication to control it. This is an effective method, but with any medication there is always the risk of side effects. With medication the underlying issues are not resolved either. What this means is that they control the condition, but do not remedy it. If the body does not heal itself or become strong enough on it's own, then medication will be part of the daily routine for the foreseeable future. Chinese medicine offers you another option to control asthma in the remission stage. Through acupuncture, tuina (hands on Asian bodywork), and/or Chinese herbs your child's body can be brought back into a state of balance thus greatly decreasing the chance of acute outbreaks of wheezing and shortness of breath. It will also strengthen their overall immune system decreasing the likelihood of a cold or respiratory infection. Can Western Medicine control asthma in the remission stage? Yes, but is it the best option? That is for you to decide.
When treating pediatric wheezing with Chinese Medicine we will typically focus on three organ systems; the Lungs, Spleen and Kidney. These organ systems are understood differently in Chinese Medicine than they are in Western Medicine. Just because we are treating these systems does not mean that there is actually anything physically wrong with your child's organs. Since most kids do not like needles, their parents are adverse to seeing needles inserted into their kids, and because it can be difficult to get small children to remain still we typically start off using tuina. Tuina is a highly effective treatment modality when it comes to pediatric conditions. If we are not seeing the results we would like, acupuncture can be used in conjunction with the tuina. Due to the fact children react so well to acupuncture, very fine, single use, sterile acupuncture needles are inserted and removed immediately for infants and small children. Once they get a little older the needles can be left in a little longer based on the needle response and the child's comfort level. Chinese herbs are a wonderful adjunct to the in office treatment your child will receive. The herbs will act as a continuous form of treatment (much like western pharmaceuticals) to bridge the gap between the tuina/acupuncture sessions. Chinese herbs act like an internal form of acupuncture, changing the body's chemistry to help it function in a more balanced and effective manner.
Each child is unique and as such each instance of pediatric wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath is unique. For that reason your child will receive a custom treatment plan that best suits their needs and presentation.