Oh, the agony of colic! The very word brings chills up the spines of most new parents. Please, they beg the parenting gods, spare our family the pain and anguish of this nightmare of infancy! Well never fear, the great therapeutic power of Chinese Medicine is here to help calm the crying and relieve the pain that are the hallmarks of this pediatric condition.
Colic is typically marked by an onset within three weeks of birth, involves crying for up to three hours a day, at least three days a week, and usually spontaneously resolves itself by the age of four months. While Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine are in general agreement that the source of colic is abdominal pain their understanding of the condition is very different.
COLIC AND THE CHINESE CLOCK
What is interesting about colic from the perspective of Chinese Medicine is its timing. Its episodes tend to occur in the late afternoon or early evening. According to the cycle of the Chinese Clock, that is when the digestive energies are at their lowest ebb. The Stomach and Spleen energies are at their peak from 7am to 11am thereby digestion is at its best in the morning and at its worst at night. This suggests that the immaturity of the digestive energies cause colicky pain to erupt most acutely during the evening hours. The best treatment to relieve this type of abdominal pain is to harmonize the organ network of the Earth and Wood elements which work together to optimize digestion.
COLIC WELLNESS PROTOCOL
The following 4-point acupressure protocol will help to minimize colicky crying, relieve abdominal pain and strengthen the digestive energies. The points can be done at any time of day, but if done during the morning from 7am to 11am will have the greatest effect.
1. STOMACH POINT
This is one of the most important points in the body to improve digestive function. It also has the added function of strengthening the immune system. It is located three body units below the base of the knee cap on the outside edge of the shin.
A body unit is the width of the thumb. You can use the width of your child’s thumb to determine what his or her own unique body unit measurement is and then multiply that by three.
2. LIVER POINT
In Chinese Medicine harmonious digestion depends upon a good relationship between the Wood (Liver and Gallbladder) and Earth elements (Stomach and Spleen).
This point is located on the big toe at the outside corner of the nail. Massage from the nail bed towards the tip, going away from the body.
3. GALLBLADDER POINT
This point combines with the Liver point to optimize the digestive function. It can also be used for all varieties of eye disorders (like conjunctivitis, tear duct blockages and inflammation from allergies).
This point is located on the top of the foot between the 4th and 5th toes (little toe). Start at the web between the toes and slide your finger back to the junction where the bones meet.
HOW TO STIMULATE THESE POINTS
- Massage them by pressing down on the point
- Make little circles or stroke for two minutes
- For a quicker treatment, use a metal tool (a coin, ring or spoon) for one minute
- Do both the right and the left sides
4. ABDOMINAL MASSAGE
This abdominal massage follows the course of the large intestine which helps to move stool and gas through the system that can contribute to abdominal distention and pain.
Massage with medium pressure 100 times in a clock-wise direction. 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.