There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Dig the well before you are thirsty.” This saying underscores the philosophy of Chinese Medicine which emphasizes the prevention of disease. In my work as a pediatric acupuncturist my mission is to provide parents with the tools necessary so that they can provide simple, effective and gentle treatments at home to their own children. The less I need to see their kids, the better I am doing my job!
One of the hallmarks of the program that I teach is the Well-Baby protocol. With regular use of this simple, but powerful trio of procedures a child’s health should thrive and when illness does occur they should recover more quickly. Modern children are in the midst of a health crisis and Chinese Medicine could help countless kids. Their health is far worse than in ages past. While the rates of early childhood epidemic infections have declined in Western countries, the rates of chronic illnesses have skyrocketed.
It is predicted that the current generation of children won’t live as long as their parents. Allergies, asthma, diabetes, eczema, ADHD, autism and developmental and neurological disorders are on the rise. These were diseases that were unheard of in my generation. In fact, with the exception of one cousin who had food allergies, I never knew a child while growing up in the 70s and 80s who had a chronic illness that required daily medication and regular medical interventions.
That is not the world that we live in today. The causes of the decline in pediatric health are hotly debated and could have many possible roots, though diet and environmental factors are typically blamed. Children under the age of two are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposure as their brains are in a critical period of growth and development. Who knows the cumulative effect that genetically modified foods, artificial food coloring and flavorings, air and water pollution, pesticides, the over-use of antibiotics, and vaccines will have on the future health of our children? In terms of pediatric health, it is a brave new world that we are just now exploring.
A STRONG DIGESTIVE TRACT
The first two years of life are critical for the future physical and mental health of children. During this sensitive period their immune and nervous systems are maturing and developing at a faster rate than at any other point in their lives. I believe that if great attention is paid to strengthening a baby’s constitution during this time that future illnesses can be minimized or avoided.
I think that this can be accomplished through the creation of a strong and healthy digestive tract. It is now even acknowledged by the Western medical community that the digestive system is home to the second brain and that it is the source of the majority of the body’s immune cells. Thus the cornerstone of Chinese pediatrics is to fortify the Earth element through proper diet, supplements and herbs as well as acupressure.
THE WELL-BABY PROTOCOL
Daily use of the Well-Baby protocol will help support the immune system, aid in good digestion and promote normal growth and development. While this protocol is effective when done at anytime of the day, if done in the morning between 7AM to 9 AM it will pack a greater therapeutic punch as this is the time of day according to Chinese Medicine when the Stomach’s energies are at their strongest.
The three components of the Well-Baby protocol are:
1) STOMACH POINT
This is the Earth point on the Earth channel and is extremely powerful in its ability to promote strong digestive energies which then optimize immune function. It is one of the most commonly used points in Chinese Medicine. I like to refer to it as the Mother of All Acupuncture Points.
This point is located three body units below the base of the knee cap on the outside edge of the shin. You can use the width of your child’s thumb to determine what their own unique body unit measurement is and then multiply that by three.
To stimulate this point you can massage it by pressing down on it, making little circles or stroking for two minutes or for a quicker treatment use a metal tool (a coin, ring or spoon) for one minute. Do both the right leg and the left leg.
2) THE ABDOMINAL MASSAGE
This abdominal massage treats the Earth center which is the basis for good digestive health which then by extension assists in creating strong immune energies.
Massage with medium pressure 100 times around the belly button in a counter clock-wise direction and then finish with another 100 times in a clock-wise direction. A massage oil or cream can be used to minimize friction.
3) THE SPINAL PINCH AND PULL MASSAGE
This back massage stimulates points that balance all of the body’s major organs.
Use the thumb and index finger to pinch up the skin along the spine and then slightly pull the skin outward. Begin at the base of the low back, pinch and pull in even segments along the spine, going upward until you reach the neck. Repeat 9 times. Again, a massage oil or cream can be used to minimize friction.
Jennifer Chellis Taveras, LAc, is a New York City acupuncturist and health educator whose professional mission is the expansion of pediatric acupuncture and the improvement of children’s health. She is the creator of the Holistic Baby Acupressure System and author of Holistic Baby Acupressure System: 12 Acupressure Points For Pediatric Sleep Improvement and Wellness Support. She maintains a busy acupuncture practice at Triangle Wellness in NYC.