Acupuncture for Children: Is it Safe and Reliable?


Acupuncture for children may not seem like the best idea at first. After all, a lot of children aren’t all that good at holding still for too long. However, you may be surprised at how acupuncture can help your kids. You may also be surprised at how well your kids can take to this ancient healthcare practice.


acupuncture for children
Photo by Delfi de la Rua/


Childhood ailments that acupuncture can help treat

There is a variety of things that can affect our children’s health and impact their everyday activities. Some ailments and symptoms can make your child miss school or keep them from extracurricular activities and socializing.


Other than that, of course, we don’t want to see our children ailing or in pain. Fortunately, there are many ways to help children who aren’t feeling well, including acupuncture. There are certain medications and remedies that can help treat children’s issues, but some parents may choose not to let their children undergo these treatments for different reasons. Acupuncture for children can be a good alternative as well as complement to these treatments.


Researchers have found evidence that acupuncture can be effective against certain illnesses and afflictions in children:


  • Colic
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems
  • And more


Acupuncture for children

It may be surprising, but acupuncture is actually child-friendly. There is a respectable body of research that has found that acupuncture is safe and effective for children, and can help them maintain their health as well as their scholastic performance.


Of course, like any other kind of treatment, acupuncture is at its safest and most effective when it’s done by trained and experienced practitioners. Thus, if you want your child to undergo acupuncture, make sure that you seek out a practitioner that you can trust.


The Santa Barbara Herb Clinic has been in the business of providing healthcare guided by the age-old principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for over two decades. Our current owner and Licensed Acupuncturist, Tram Pham, has extensive training in acupuncture and other treatments under TCM. She has a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine from Yo San University in Los Angeles, as well as years of experience that have honed her skills and expertise.


The basics of acupuncture

Acupuncture is an important part of TCM. According to the principles of TCM, our health and well-being is governed by our energy force, called qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi flows through the body in channels called meridians. When qi flows normally, it results in good health and a good disposition. However, when this flow gets out of sync or gets concentrated in certain meridians, it can result in illness or other disturbances.


To restore the proper flow of qi, an acupuncturist would insert very fine needles through the skin in specific parts of the body called acupuncture points. Each acupuncture point corresponds to a certain symptom, and the stimulation of these acupuncture points can result in the alleviation of those symptoms.


Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and it has developed over time. In more recent years, scientists have been more interested in this ancient practice. Through numerous studies, scientists have found that not only can acupuncture for children be effective, it also has minimal side effects when trained and skilled professionals administer it.


Usually, acupuncture can result in tingling or a feeling or heaviness in the body. This is a common effect of the treatment, and some even consider it to mean that the treatment is working. Numerous studies on acupuncture have found that side effects are minimal and are very rarely severe, and that these side effects are usually the result of an inexperienced and unlicensed acupuncturist or unsanitized needles.


However, at reputable practices with licensed acupuncturists, you can be assured that every needle has been sanitized and will only be used once and on a single patient. Even so, before you book an acupuncture appointment for your child, make sure to consult with her pediatrician first.


The effectiveness of acupuncture

acupuncture for cihldren
Babies can receive acupuncture treatment with little issues. Photo by Colin Maynard/


Babies and children can actually benefit from acupuncture, just like adults. For one thing, acupuncture for children can help reduce the number of times that you take your child to the hospital.


While TCM and Western medicine can complement each other extremely well, they also look at things quite differently. Western medicine bases treatments on the ailment itself, while TCM bases treatments on the individual patient and his or her symptoms. Thus, one visit to an acupuncturist can help address several symptoms at once.


It’s also possible that your child may be allergic to or otherwise unable to take necessary medications or undergo necessary treatments. Acupuncture can be a helpful alternative, and it can also be an effective complement to existing treatments.


Acupuncture treatments for babies and children also don’t take as long and aren’t as intensive as treatments tailored for adults.


You may be thinking, however, how babies can stay still long enough to endure the process of acupuncture. According to researchers, acupuncture can help colicky babies calm down. An experiment revealed that practitioners can administer acupuncture while babies are asleep, and that the treatment rarely wakes babies up.


One thing that you need to remember, however, is that acupuncture is not a replacement for medical treatment. If your child has a disease or health condition that needs to be managed, like diabetes, acupuncture is not a cure and will not make the condition go away.


acupuncture in Santa Barbara


How to deal with fear of needles

Some children may have a fear of needles. Some may also be uncomfortable with the idea of having multiple needles piercing their skin. However, there are ways you can help your child get over this fear or discomfort.


It’s important to make it clear to the child that the needles will not be like the needles for giving shots or taking blood. Acupuncture needles are much thinner, and they don’t prick the way other needles do.


It’s also important to make sure that you introduce acupuncture to your child gradually. This will help her get used to the idea of the treatment. You can also let your child undergo acupressure first to help her understand how the treatment works.


Acupuncture at the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic

At the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, you can be sure that acupuncture for children is safe and that we keep our equipment and instruments clean and sanitary. The clinic has also has a three-decade long tradition of providing the Santa Barbara and Goleta area with the ancient and time-proven practices of traditional Chinese medicine.


It’s never too early to start experiencing holistic and all-natural healthcare. You can make an appointment with Tram, our Licensed Acupuncturist, by calling us at 805-563-0222 or emailing us at You can also have a consultation over the phone or via video call.