We are in the thick of illness season – with colds, flus, and respiratory viruses circulating. Some of our children are more prone than others to succumbing to illness. The good news is that there are a handful of practical steps we can take to ensure that our children’s immune functions are operating optimally.
Western medical research shows that the following are key for maintaining healthy immunity:
- Low stress
- A diet rich in vegetables and fruits
- Frequent moderate exercise
- Sufficient sleep
- Supplements if needed
Some of these parameters you can help your child with – you can try to make sure your child goes to sleep at a reasonable hour, you can make time and space for regular exercise (for children – daily, ideally outdoors, at least 30 minutes), and you can provide a diet that has a variety of vegetables and fruit in it to provide the necessary nutrients for immunity. You can monitor your child for signs of stress such as irritability, an increase in fears, tummy aches or headaches, decreased motivation, clinginess, and mood swings. If your child demonstrates stress, see if you can identify the cause – work with the school or daycare to identify causes, decrease activities if the schedule is too burdensome, or reduce tension at home where possible.
You may also consider using immune supporting supplements during periods where you know your child will be exposed to a lot of germs, such as at parties or big events with lots of kids, or particularly illness-prone months at school or daycare.
If despite these efforts your child still shows low immunity (getting frequent colds, coughs, runny noses, or more serious infections), you can bring your child in for acupuncture and herbal medicine. Acupuncture can support your child’s sleep, decrease stress and anxiety, support proper digestive function (although a good diet is crucial), and can decrease inflammation overall. These are all factors that lead directly to proper immune function.
Furthermore, a pediatric acupuncturist can prescribe herbal medicine tailored to your child to support his or her unique needs. The herbal medicine can support immune system function but also address sleep issues, stress, digestion, and other concerns.
If you have questions about whether pediatric acupuncture is right for your child, please contact me by phone or email. Here’s to your child’s health!