By Larry Tepper, MS, MAc

Does your child hate going to the doctor? Do you have difficulty getting them to take medicine? If you answered yes, it may be time to consider shonishin.

Shonishin is a specialized form of acupuncture for infants and children. It has become renowned in Japan, where parents regularly bring their children for Shonishin treatments. The term shonishin translates literally as “children’s needles.”

Painless and gentle, Shonishin uses silver tools to stimulate the meridians and acupuncture points. These tools are stroked, rubbed, tapped, or pressed lightly against the skin to provide different kinds of gentle stimulation. These techniques harmonize and fortify the child’s vital energy. They also help strengthen the child’s developing meridians and organ systems.

Because it is not invasive in any way, children generally enjoy the treatment.

Parents appreciate Shonishin because it offers them an opportunity to be actively involved in the child’s healing process. By instructing parents on simple techniques that can be performed at home, the healing process can be made even less stressful for their children.

The Treatment

The treatment begins with an assessment of the basic pattern of imbalance, which at times can be challenging with children.Because young children have yet to develop verbal skills, it may be difficult for them to express adequately the details of their symptoms, such as whether a headache is sharp or dull. So, Shonishin practitioners rely heavily on their senses to diagnose children.Using diagnostic techniques common in acupuncture, they palpate the child’s body, looking for areas of hot, cold, excess, and deficiency. They observe the child’s complexion and look for subtle colors or hues that radiate from the child’s face. Most importantly, they read the child’s pulses.

After assessing the child’s condition, the Shonishin practitioner performs a general treatment to strengthen the child’s constitution. That’s followed by treatments of specific points that are relevant to the child’s symptoms.

The specifics of a child’s treatment depend on various factors, including the age, and condition of the patient. The treatments are usually brief, lasting about 10-20 minutes. Generally, the older the child the longer the treatment will last.

Shonishin Treatments often start at a rate of twice per week, as the change may not hold for long in the beginning. The frequency of treatments is then gradually reduced as the child’s system becomes stronger.

As children grow older, typically between the ages of 10 and 12, special soft needles that don’t get inserted are added to their treatments.

At the end of each session, the practitioner will design a treatment plan that places emphasis on a particular set of meridians and/or acupuncture points for parents to focus on stimulating regularly, as well as advice on diet and lifestyle choices.

Treatable Conditions

Shonishin is a universal treatment protocol that can be used to treat many chronic conditions commonly found in children. These include:

• earaches
• headaches
• fevers
• allergies and asthma
• eczema and hives
• digestive problems
• nightmares and sleep disorders