Kids and Acupuncture Techniques

Kids and acupuncture


By Audrey Cortez 

A question we are asked often in clinic is, “Can acupuncture help children for their ailments/conditions?” and the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. The question most ask is  “do you use needles on children?” and the answer is in short is “Yes” and “no”; let us explain first with a little bit of history and techniques used today.


In China and Japan, paediatric medicine historically not as well respected as it is today, due to a multiple of reasons such as: high mortality rate or children were seen as a ‘burden’. During Japan’s Edo period attitudes to paediatric medicine began to change when diseases such as small pox, measles and parasitic conditions became prevalent. In this era the Shonishin technique was born. It was here acupuncturists (especially blind acupuncturists) were not able to needle under law consequently, these acupuncturists developed the “Shonishin” technique which is using specific tools which are non-invasive and results are quite effective (Wernike 2014). In China at the same time, paediatric medicine was more focused on herbal medicine utilising popular formulas and modifying them to fit the child’s needs.

Selection of Shoni Shin tools for pediatric acupuncture

What is Shonishin?

The word Shonishin can be broken into two parts: ‘shoni’ meaning ‘child’ and ‘shin’ meaning ‘needle or needling’. The Shonishin technique is a non-invasive which is pain free and relatively easy to perform for the practitioner. It involves using a simple tool which looks like a nail, and its used to stroke gently on the patient’s skin. The technique itself is like a massage which children are more welcoming than being needled or taking herbal medicine, which sometimes may not be a pleasant experience for both parent/carer and child. One advantage of performing Shonishin techniques is it can be used a whole extensive range of ailments and it be done on from as young as 6 weeks old to adults. Another advantage is the technique is relatively quick to do which is great as children are quick to respond to treatment.


What other techniques used?

Other techniques used for paediatric acupuncture are massage such as Shiatzu or Tui Na and using Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)  devises. These techniques are once again non-invasive which is great while treating because they do not cause pain to the child and can be combined with herbal medicine.


Can you needle young patients?

Macro detail of a pine brush Japanese Shonishin acupuncture tool being used on young boy’s leg

This is an interesting question to answer. In short, yes you can needle children if they feel confident in the knowledge the needles are there to help them then there is no reason for them not to start early. Children are very open to needles and if explained properly. Of course, for those who are scared of needle, they can always opt for the non-invasive techniques if they choose to change their minds at the last minute.

In the next newletter we will be discussing what common conditions paediatric acupuncture can treat and what research supports this.

Here at the Sydney Acupuncture Clinic we offer non-invasive paediatric acupuncture treatments with both the Shonishin technique and laser acupuncture.


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The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient’s own physician. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care.

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