In my clinic, I generally use three main tools: microcurrent, laser, and pediatric acupuncture needles. Many practitioners also use a variety of shonishin tools as well. No matter what tool you use to stimulate the acupuncture points it will have a similar therapeutic effect as acupuncture. The difference is how long it takes, how stimulating the treatment is and whether or not the child accepts it.
I typically use Seirin J-15 Dark Green and Dark Blue Needles for kids. I call these needles “taps” instead of needles when working with kids since it sounds much less scary than the word needle.
For kids under age 8 or for older kids that are Qi sensitive I will use in/out needling technique. You certainly can use higher gauge needles, it is just a matter of knowing the tolerance level of your patient. Seirin J-15 Dark Green and Dark Blue Needles are available from a variety of acupuncture supply stores including Llasa OMS, Acu-Market and Kan Herb Co.
Laser acupuncture is another effective way to stimulate the acupuncture points. Increasingly, research is showing the effectiveness of red and blue lasers.
I would not recommend using the laser around the face on children. Hold it on the skin at the point for 15 – 30 seconds. When it's time to change up your treatment style, lasers are a great tool to use. The Qi Pulse Laser can be purchased at Miridia Technologies. The best deal is the red & blue laser set.
Not all kids are up for getting “taps” so my usual Plan B or C is microcurrent, aka “the tickle wand.” Microcurrent devices place a micro amount of electrical current at the acupuncture point to stimulate it.
There are two devices I recommend. The Pointer Plus is the suitable for extremely sensitive pediatric patients since it has a low setting that makes it completely painless for children. However, the StimPlus Pro is my favorite microcurrent device because it's lightweight and has an automatic time for 15 and 30 seconds.
I gently place the microcurrent device on the acupuncture point (no need for a lot of pressure) and hold it there for 10 – 15 seconds. It’s a good idea to get the kids involved in counting and helping you. This empowers them and gives them some control over the treatment. And they LOVE it!
You can think of auriculotherapy like reflexology for the ear. Certain spots on the ear correspond to areas of the body such as the head, neck, back, lungs, stomach, and shoulders.
You can use auriculotherapy to treat a wide variety of common pediatric conditions, such as emotional and behavioral issues, digestive issues, common cold, and more. It's great because you can set it and forget. They apply mild continuous pressure to support healing between treatments.
In order to pick the right points to treat, use the StimPlus Pro or an ear probe to check for active points/tenderness around the area that corresponds to your patient's health complaint.
In addition, look for markings or discoloration in certain parts of the ear. Once you find the right points, you can simply apply an ear seed to the spots (as seen in the photo).
Shonishin tools are used to stimulate the meridians, clear heat and improve overall zang-fu organ function by rubbing, scraping and poking the arms, legs and individual points.
You can use special tools, or like Raven Lang, you can simply use a seashell. You want to rub the meridians you’re working until they “pink up” and then it is time to stop.
Shonishin requires more skill and practice than laser, microcurrent or even acupuncture. Shonishin tools can be purchased from Llasa OMS.