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Even healthy children are extremely vulnerable to common viruses, allergies and illnesses. Antibiotics are used more and more frequently for childhood ailments, but one problem with this is the possibility of overuse. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics when this form of medicine is over-diagnosed or becomes too common. Western and traditional Chinese medicine doctors are combining efforts to educate the public about the problems with, and misuse of antibiotics, as well as the available alternatives for children. Children are some of the patients that are most susceptible to the stronger, more resistant strains of bacteria that are created by the over-diagnosis of antibiotics.
Among the alternatives to antibiotics is traditional Chinese medicine. A gentler, subtler approach for children is Chinese herbal therapy, as well as various forms of massage, acupuncture and specific dietary guidelines. Some of the problems that these methods can easily alleviate include colds, ear infections, allergies and even skin problems, such as eczema, which has a strong correlation to breathing problems like asthma. Herbal formulas and eardrops have been known to quickly cure extreme ear infections in infants. Also, parents are often taught techniques used in Tui na massage, a practice which is meant to re-energize a person's qi (life force), open the body's defensive abilities, and get the energy moving in both the meridians and the muscles.
Chinese herbal remedies are effective because they are prescribed individually and are custom-written for the specific needs of each child. Each formula can have anywhere from four to 15 herbs, and many herbs have antibacterial or antiviral properties. Acupuncture for children is performed with great care, and is a more moderate version of that given to adults. Usually only two to three points on the body are attended, fewer than the average adult treatment. Children are actually more responsive to acupuncture than adults, and so the length of treatment is less. If the child or parent has an aversion to the use of needles, there are a number of related treatments that don't require the actual insertion of them. One is a Japanese style of pediatric acupuncture (shonishin) which involves combs, rollers, and brushes to stimulate various acupuncture points and channels of the child's body. The skin is never pierced, and the child's qi is still balanced. Many children find this treatment very soothing. Dietary changes are another important element to Oriental medicine. Breast milk is highly encouraged for infants, and if a breastfed baby has health problems, the mother's diet is often examined as well. Dairy products and food additives are believed to create phlegm and toxicity, and are some of the first irritants to be evaluated.
Children are the most cherished members of any society, and caring for them is a top priority. Western and Eastern medicine in conjunction can provide optimal health for kids of all ages. Both Parents and doctors are becoming more aware of the benefits that this ancient wisdom can offer to the smallest of patients.