Since becoming a mom, I am always looking for safe, natural alternatives to use for my daughter - for anything from skin care to “sick” care. My daughter was born right in the heart of cold and flu season, so since living in a bubble was out of the question, I turned to acupuncture and essential oils to help reduce our doctor visits and keep my little one healthy.
I and my colleagues at the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in Morristown have trained in Acupuncture Pediatrics and we use simple acupuncture techniques on children of all ages for many common health issues. In traditional Chinese medicine, the strength of the immune system relies greatly on the strength of the digestive system. Babies have immature digestive systems, and in turn, immature immune systems, which is why they can get sick so easily. Additionally, a baby’s eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear cavity to the upper throat and back of the nasal cavity, is flattened, which makes it very easy for a common cold to quickly lead to an ear infection. Chinese medicine values prevention, so in order to get through cold and flu season unscathed (and we have been through 2 now!), I turned to these natural remedies to help prevent illness, and treat the sniffles when they arose:
I am very fortunate to be able to breastfeed my daughter, and I know this has played a big role in strengthening her immune system. However, not every mom wants to or is able to nurse, and that is ok. There are many ways to help prevent your little one from getting sick if you do not breastfeed.
To help strengthen my daughter’s digestive system, I like to do moxa on the acupuncture point Stomach 36. This has also helped to treat diarrhea and constipation. Although needles can be used, a baby’s energy is very easily accessible, and the needles do not need to be retained. A quick in-and-out motion is sufficient to treat the acupuncture point. When my daughter had her first fever, I quickly needled the acupuncture points Governing Vessel 14 and Erjian at the ear’s apex to help reduce it. I have also performed cupping on her upper back to break up mucous in her chest to reduce cough.
I am amazed every time I use oils at how effective they are! There are many oils out there, and it can be overwhelming at first, but I like to keep it simple. My go-to oils are Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Clove, and Thieves, which is a blend of Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Lemon, and Clove.
Nasal Congestion: Diffusing a combination of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils has broken up congestion almost immediately, leading to better sleep for both baby and mom! Tea tree oil also kills bacteria and viruses, so it helps to combat what is causing the nasal congestion as well. Cough: I dilute 1 drop of Eucalyptus with 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil and rub on my daughter’s chest and the soles of her feet. Teething: I dilute 1 drop of Clove oil with 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil and rub right on my daughter’s gums. She actually likes the taste, and has stopped crying and started eating immediately after application. Immune support: After a day at the play ground or a place with lots of other little kids, I dilute 3 drops of Thieves oil with 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil and rub on the soles of my daughter’s feet, then put the rest of the mixture in her bath. Sleep: If my daughter is waking frequently or having difficulty falling asleep, I will diffuse Lavender or put a couple drops right on her bed sheet to help promote restful sleep.
When it comes to essential oils, it is very important to choose a high quality brand free of additives and toxins, and to only use a 1% dilution for children (this means 1 drop essential oil per 1 teaspoon carrier oil) if you are going to apply directly to the skin. If you would like to learn more about acupuncture and essential oils for babies, give us a call at the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in Morristown! And I would like to report that we have now gotten through 2 cold and flu seasons with minimal illness - no antibiotics needed!
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