Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine For Children & Youth

By Bob Flaws, L.Ac., FNAAOM (USA), FRCHM (UK), © Copyright 2008.

Bob is a Practitioner, Teacher and Publisher.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Has Helped Kids With

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • ADD
  • Bronchitis
  • Chicken pox
  • Colic
  • Colds
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Earaches
  • Emotional disorders
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Teething
  • Kidney disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Nausea
  • Neonatal jaundice
  • Physical pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Premature menstruation
  • Rubella
  • Skin diseases, rashes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sore throats
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Slow growth
  • Retarded development
  • Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Worms

Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Yes

Body: Yes

Mind: Yes

Emotions: Yes

Social: Yes

Brief Description Of Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine is the oldest continually practiced professional medicine in the world today. It is a complete system of medicine that treats old and young, men and women, boys and girls - for acute and chronic complaints.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the concept of identifying various kinds of imbalances within the body and correcting them.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the whole person.
  • The main method of treatment is to use herbs in water-based mixtures. Other methods include acupuncture, herbal heat treatment, massage, osteopathy, dietary therapy, and meditation.

Success With Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Jennie was three weeks old and had colic. Every afternoon, she would begin to cry restlessly and to pump her legs to her abdomen. If she passed gas, she quieted for a bit. When she cried, her face became red and her hands and feet were warm to the touch. The vein at the base of Jennie’s index finger was slightly more purple and visible than normal. Therefore, her Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner knew she was suffering from food stagnation.

She was given a Chinese herbal formula to be administered several times per day with an eyedropper. In addition, her mother was advised to switch to feeding based upon a schedule, rather than on demand. She was also taught how to massage her daughter’s abdomen to remove stagnation.

After two days, Jennie’s colic quieted noticeably, and disappeared entirely within four days.

  • Benjamin, age two, had a history of recurrent earaches for which he had been prescribed numerous rounds of antibiotics. His face was pale; his appetite was poor; and his stools tended to be loose.

Benjamin’s hands and feet were cool to the touch, and he had a blue vein at the top of his nose between his eyes. The vein at the base of his index finger was purple and prominent. Thus, Benjamin’s Chinese pattern discrimination was spleen vacuity with food stagnation, causing heat in his stomach and intestines, which traveled up to his inner ear via certain network vessels.

Benjamin was prescribed a Chinese herbal formula, his diet was adjusted and he was given Chinese herbal eardrops. Following this diet and taking this formula for eight months, Benjamin’s current earache quickly cleared up without antibiotics and he was free from further earaches the rest of that year.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Is Appropriate For Ages

  • Birth through adolescence

Children & Youth’s Reactions To Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Children usually tolerate it.
  • Babies usually have no problem drinking Chinese herbal decoctions (mixed medicines).
  • Older children may not like the taste. In that case, the medicine can be administered via pills or capsules.
  • Different children react to acupuncture and Chinese infant massage differently. Some enjoy it, some do not. For those who are needle shy, other methods of stimulating the points and channels of life energy can be used. These include the use of magnets, Chinese herbal plasters and poultices (patches attached to the skin).

Extra Care Is Needed

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine produces no side effects or adverse reactions when prescribed properly.
  • A fully trained and licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner should prescribe Chinese herbs (often grown in the US) because prescriptions are based on Chinese medical patterns, and not a disease diagnosis.
  • Chinese medicinals are only free from side effects when correctly prescribed.
  • Chinese medicinals are suspended when the condition is half eliminated, and then the Chinese dietary therapy will complete the treatment.

Contraindications: When Traditional Chinese Medicine Should Be Avoided

  • When Traditional Chinese Medicine should be avoided depends on the training and experience of your local Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. It is impossible to make a blanket statement.


  • The first surviving Chinese medical books - still in use today, were written 2,500 years ago.
  • The first government-sponsored Chinese medical schools, hospitals, and administrative agencies were created 1,500 years ago.
  • The literature on Traditional Chinese Medicine is comprised of 30,000 volumes written before 1900. Hundreds of new books and thousands of journal articles are being published each year in the People’s Republic of China.
  • National standards for the teaching and professional practice of Chinese medicine were created in China in the 1960’s and are annually updated.
  • The current popularity of acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine in the United States of America dates from the late 1970’s.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the concept of balance and harmony between ying-yang (positive and negative, dynamic and magnetic) polarities.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the whole person, not just the major complaint. It treats the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.
  • When practiced properly, Traditional Chinese Medicine treats without adverse reactions or side effects.

Description Of A Typical Session

  • The usual first session with either a child or adult lasts one hour. Information is gathered about the patient by:
  • Looking, listening, smelling
  • Questioning
  • Palpation (tapping and listening)
  • Taking the pulse (different than taking the pulse of the heart)
  • These are the so-called four examinations. In particular, there are specific pulse examinations in infants and young children.
  • The child’s pattern of disharmony is determined based on information gathered from the above examinations, and the necessary treatment principles are written down.
  • Based on these principles, a Chinese herbal, acupuncture-moxibustion (herbal heat treatment), or Chinese infant massage treatment plan is created. With this information, the first treatment is given. In addition, the prescribed Chinese dietary therapy is usually explained, as well as any other “home remedies.”
  • Follow-up sessions are usually brief and, in the case of Chinese herbal medicine, may be conducted by phone.

Major Differences Of Opinion Between Practitioners

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine is the proper name of a specific style of Chinese medicine, which has professional standards of care.
  • Some Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners practice either acupuncture-moxibustion, Chinese infant massage, or Chinese herbal medicine as their sole or main modality, especially when it comes to pediatrics. However, any of these three may be equally effective for most common pediatric conditions.
  • There are a number of differences in theory and practice between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese medicines, and Western schools of so-called Chinese medicine. All of these may be effective. However, they are not necessarily the same as Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Fees/Costs In 2007

  • The fee is $75 – $100 for the initial visit.
  • The fee is $30 – 50 for follow-up visits.
  • Fees vary widely, depending on the practitioner’s education and experience.

Average Time Per Session

  • Initial visit lasts one hour.
  • Follow-up visits last 20–30 minutes, without acupuncture and/or Chinese infant massage.
  • 45 minutes with either acupuncture or Chinese infant massage.

Recommended Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • As needed

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • Typically speedy relief of most acute symptoms happens within a few hours or one or two days.
  • In chronic conditions, allow for a week.
  • Progress thereafter is gradual with marked, readily apparent improvement occurring in most chronic conditions.

Suggestions To Make Traditional Chinese Medicine More Effective

  • Make sure the practitioner takes a complete medical history of the child and be sure to answer all of the practitioner’s questions as factually and completely as possible.
  • After medicine or treatment, the parents should report any changes in the child’s condition to the practitioner so that the child’s prescription or treatment plan can be appropriately adjusted. (If the child’s symptoms change, so usually should their Chinese medicinal prescription.)
  • Study the book, Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine, by Bob Flaws.
  • Follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner’s dietary recommendations that are coordinated with acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal treatments.

Other Methods That Are Similar To Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Tibetan medicine.
  • Unani medicine.
  • Greco-Roman scholastic medicine.

Other Methods That Complement Traditional Chinese Medicine

  • Modern Western medicine.
  • Treatments can often complement and alleviate the side effects of modern Western medicines.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

  • Look for a professional practitioner of Chinese Medicine specifically trained and experienced in the specialty of pediatrics, with at least one semester in Traditional Chinese Medicine pediatrics combined with a one-semester rotation in a Traditional Chinese Medicine pediatric clinic.

Certification/Licenses Held By Practitioners

  • Practitioners need three to four years minimum entry level education.
  • It takes two to three years to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncturist.
  • Three to six years of training are needed to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine internal medicine practitioner.
  • Most Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners in the U.S. practice under the title and license of acupuncturists. Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine is a legal profession in approximately 45 out of 50 states. Licensed acupuncturists typically append Lic.Ac. or Reg.Ac. after their names.
  • The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies practitioners as diplomats of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and/or oriental massage via national board examinations.
  • Blue Poppy Seminars, a division of Blue Poppy Enterprises, Inc., is currently the only organization in the U.S. that offers a certification program specifically in Traditional Chinese Medicine pediatrics.

Professional Associations To Contact For Names Of Local Practitioners

  • To locate a Traditional Chinese Medicine center, clinic, or practitioner near you, look in your local yellow pages under “acupuncturists.” Or contact the NCAAOM or other organizations located below.
  • NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine);
    76 South Laura Street, Suite 1290; Jacksonville, FL 32202; Ph: 904-598-1005; Fax: 904-598-5001; Website: www.nccaom.org; Email: info@nccaom.org
  • AAAOM (American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine); P.O. Box 162340; Sacramento, CA 95816; Ph: 866-455-7999; Fax: 916-443-4766; Website: www.aaaomonline.org
  • Other on-line resources:
  • www.acupuncture.com
  • www.craneherb.com
  • www.redwingbooks.com

Number Of Certified Practitioners In U.S., Canada, And Mexico

  • There are approximately 15,000 practitioners in the United States.
  • The number in Canada and Mexico is unknown.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Practitioner

  • Check their education and certification.
  • Ask if they have been specifically trained, both theoretically and clinically in Traditional Chinese Medicine pediatrics.
  • Ask for references from patients previously treated for the same condition.
  • Be sure you can communicate freely and easily with the practitioner.

Bibliography, Research Papers, Resources

  • Allen, John J.B. “Depression and Acupuncture: A Controlled Clinical Trial.” Psychiatric Times, March 2000, Vol. XVII, Issue 3.
  • Flaws, Bob. Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine. Boulder: Blue Poppy Press, 1996.
  • Barlow, Teresa and Julian Scott. Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children. Seattle: Eastland Press, 3rd Ed., 1991.

Biography of Bob Flaws, Author

  • Bob Flaws is a teacher of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is also a Traditional Chinese Medicine gynecologist and is director of Blue Poppy Press which publishes materials on Chinese medicine in its many forms.

Bob Flaws’ Personal Statement

Because I am a Traditional Chinese Medicine gynecologist, and because women have children, I have seen many infants and children (between 300 and 600) over the past 25 years. I am convinced that Traditional Chinese Medicine provides exceptionally effective treatment for all of the most common pediatric complaints. Not only is Traditional Chinese Medicine without side effects and adverse reaction when practiced correctly, but also it treats imbalances at their root; thus promoting long-term health and well-being. In addition, Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used as a complement to modern Western medicine, reducing or eliminating that medicine’s side effects, and making it even more effective.

To Contact Bob Flaws, Who Contributed This Chapter

Bob Flaws; C/O Blue Poppy Enterprises, Inc.; 5441 Western Ave., #2; Boulder, CO 80301;

Ph: 800-487-9296; Fax: 303-245-8362; Website: www.bluepoppy.com; E-mail:bobflaws@earthlink.net

Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Traditional Chinese Medicine: TCM can support healing and transform the lives of children & youth. I recommend getting evaluation and treatment from both Western Medicine and TCM practitioners for serious medical conditions, such as Asthma. Please be aware that there are concerns about the safety of some Chinese herbal medicines. Please discuss safety concerns with your TCM practitioner before giving your child or youth a Chinese herbal product. I have seen benefits particularly with Asthma, recurrent ear infections, and improving vitality. On your own you can try implementing TCM dietary recommendations, which are widely available and effective. In particular, eating seasonal food seems to improve health.

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Traditional Chinese Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine works. It has been practiced for thousands of years. It has thousands of remedies and techniques that produce excellent, cost-effective results with practically every type of childhood problem. New applications are being discovered all the time.

I have been going to elderly Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners from mainland China for years. Traditional Chinese Medicine complements Western medicine more than western doctors/therapists may usually know. With proper practitioner experience and proper training, TCM produces excellent results, especially for children & youth. Select the practitioners who have the most training and experience.

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