Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Paediatric Massage is an external treatment method where physicians apply massage techniques to specific points on the child’s body to treat disease and strengthen the immunity of the child. It has strict compliance with the principles of TCM clinical diagnosis and is based on the physiological and pathological characteristics of children. Since ancient time, Paediatric Massage has played an important role in disease prevention and medical treatment of children. The theory and practical experience of Paediatric Massage contain the essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and provide a natural, safe, simple and effective method for children’s health.
Paediatric physiology from the perspective of TCM
Firstly, their internal Zang-Fu organs are delicate and their physiological functions have yet to be fully matured and developed. A newborn child is like a budding sprout, the body structure and physiological functions of the organs in the body are still at a growth and development stage. Three of the internal Zang-Fu organs Qi deficiencies are more prominent – Lung, Spleen and Kidney Qi.
In TCM, Lung governs Qi of the whole body, regulates water passage and possesses the physiological function of diffusing the defensive Qi and Essence onto the skin and fine hair. The deficient Lung-qi in children results in weaker diffusion of the defensive Qi and Essence onto the skin and hair, causing them to be more vulnerable to external pathogens and is subjected to catching cold more easily as compared to adults.
The Spleen governs the transformation of foodstuff into Essence, absorbing and transporting it to the whole body. This signifies that the Spleen-qi can promote the digestion of food taken in, absorption of the foodstuff Essence and further distributing the Essence to nourish the body. Deficient Spleen-qi in children can result in weaker digestion, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, poor appetite and bloated stomac
The Kidney is the root for storage, being in charge of storing Essence. The Kidney-essence is the material basis for generation of Kidney-qi. The physiological effects of the Essence-qi in the Kidney are firstly to promote growth, development and reproduction. In addition, the Kidney governs water and has the ability to control and regulate the distribution and excretion of water in the body so as to maintain the water metabolism balance. The Kidney and Urinary Bladder form an exterior-interior relation through their meridians’ connection and affiliation. The storage and discharge of urine by the Urinary Bladder is regulated by the Kidney. Deficiency of Kidney-qi in children will result in the loss in control of the Urinary Bladder and cause enuresis.
Secondly, the children have vibrant and rapid growth. Ancient physicians pointed out that the body constitution of a child is full of Yang energy, like a rising sun in the morning. Both their physical body as well as physiological function of the internal Zang-fu organs are growing and developing at a rapid rate. They require a lot of foodstuff Essence to nourish their body. The younger the child is, the faster the speed of growth, the greater the nutritional needs. Hence, it is common to see “excess Yang, insufficient Yin” body constitution in a child.
How does it work?
Paediatric Massage not only uses points from the fourteen main channels and eight extra channels found in adults, it also uses specific points that can only be found in children. These specific points can be found all over the body, but are mainly concentrated on the palm of the children. Compared to the adults, the points can not only be a “point” on the body, but also a “line” or “surface area”.
For example, Xiao Tian Xin (小天心) is a point located on the base of the palm of children, between the thenar and hypothenar. It can be used to treat children with disrupted sleep at night, convulsion, sore eyes and mouth ulcer.
San Guan (三关) is an example of a line located on the radial side of the arm, starting from the wrist to the elbow. It can be used to nourish the Qi and Blood, warm the body and relieve cold, used in the treatment of wind-cold diseases, stomachache, diarrhea, weakness in the four limbs etc.
On the threaded surface of the child’s five fingers, is the Wu Jing (五经) point, an example of a surface area point. Starting from the thumb to the small finger, they represent Pi Jing (脾经), Gan Jing (肝经), Xin Jing (心经), Fei Jing (肺经) and Shen Jing (肾经) respectively. They can be used to regulate the functions of the internal Zang-fu organs in children.
When a child has a disease, by massaging the various points on the child’s body, it can improve Qi and Blood circulation, balance the Yin and Yang in their body and regulate the internal Zang-fu organ function to achieve the purpose of healing. At the same time, it can also strengthen the health and immunity of the child, improving their body constitution and increase the child’s resistance against diseases.
This article is written by Physician Wong Seok Peng
Place of practice: Singapore Chung Hwa Medicial Instituition Woodlands Branch
Seok Peng is a Resident Physician at Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution. Besides internal medicine and acupuncture, she is also doing TCM pediatric massage. Her patients can range from seven month old babies to ninety year old elderly persons. Seok Peng enjoys the daily interaction with her patients. Her interest lies in gynaecology, acupuncture and paediatric massage.
Find her at these timings: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9am to 5pm, Wed 1.30pm to 9.30pm and Sat 9am to 12.30pm.
This article first appeared in Nanyang Technological University Chinese Medicine Alumni Association (NTUCMAA) website. Find out more about them here!
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