Acupuncture for Children

Acupuncture is intrinsic to Chinese medicine where it has been practiced for more than  2000 years. Acupuncture began as a form of bioenergertic healing. This term refers toeh the flow of energy in living and between living things. There are different variations of acupuncture but the practice is based on the concept of someone’s Qi (chee). Qi is sent through one’s body through different channels.  Acupuncture takes specific acupoints and restore the obstructed flow.  The most common form of acupuncture is the use of dry needles placed into the skin (Gold, Nicolaou, Belmont, Katz, Benaron, & Yu ,2009)

The use of acupuncture amongst adults has been growing in popularity over the last few decades. The use of acupuncture in children is still in its infancy and research related to its efficacy in children is still sparse. Acupuncture needles have  been approved by the FDA as a medical device and some insurance companies pay for acupuncture treatment (Li, 2009).

One survey ( Lee, Highfield, Berde, & Kemper, 1999) looked at acupuncturists in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Most of the practitioners did not regularly treat children.  Those did did used different non-needle techniques to stimulate acupuncture points. These methods included using a Chinese herb called mugwort. This herb was burned to generate heat. Others used magnets or massage. Some practitioners did use electrical stimulation with the use of smaller tools instead of regular acupuncture needles. Still others used a light hammer, called a plum blossom hammer, which is a “light hammer with nine thin, short needles used to tap the skin at acupuncture points” (p.155).

One of the areas of recent research of acupuncture with children is in the treatment of childhood asthma. In a randomized controlled study researchers looked at the immediate effects of acupuncture as an adjunct treatment to children who were in an inpatient rehabilitation center. The study showed that those having acupuncture had a lower anxiety rate after treatment but there was not significant different in the lung function between the groups (Scheewe, Vogt, Minakawa, Eichmann, Welle, Stachow, & Banzer ,2011).

As with many areas of CAM the use of acupuncture, especially in children, needs to be further evaluated for its efficacy.


Gold, J.I., Nicolaou, C.D., Belmont, K.A., Katz, A.R., Benaron, D. M.,& Yu, W. (2009). Pediatric acupuncture: A review of clinical research. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 6 (4), 429-439. doi: 10.1093

Lee, A, Highfield, E, Berde, C, & Kember, K. (1999). Survey of acupuncturist: practice characteristics and pediatric care. Western Journal of Medicine, 171 (3), 153-157.

Li, X. (2009). Complementary and alternative medicine in pediatric allergic disorders. Current Opinion of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 9(2), 161-167. doi: 10.1097/ACI.ob013e3283299226f

Scheewe, S., Vogt, L., Minakawa, S., Eichmann, D., Welle, S., Stachow, R., & Banzer, W. (2011). Acupuncture in children and adolescents with bronchial asthma: A randomised controlled study. Complementary Therapies In Medicine, 19(5), 239-246.

Additional sources of information

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