Myth #1: I should seek out a TCM practitioner only when my child is sick.
Truth: The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to health is proactive and seeks to prevent illness from occurring in the first instance, and after that, from recurring. That is why many parents are turning to TCM to build up immunity and as a natural strategy for maintaining their children’s good health. Others use TCM as a complement to Western medicine, seeking out TCM physicians to help with respiratory and gastrointestinal issues including diarrhoea, poor appetite, gastroenteritis, the common flu, chronic cough and allergic rhinitis. TCM practitioners believe in treating both the “branch” (symptoms) and “root” (cause) of an illness, and that early treatment reduces the length of the illness and prevents complications.
Myth #2: TCM is ineffective and unsuitable for young children
Truth: TCM therapies like herbal medication and paediatric tui na can help children as young as six months. In children, TCM works best in treating respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhoea, poor appetite, gastroenteritis, the common flu, chronic cough and allergic rhinitis. Speak to your paediatric-trained TCM practitioner about the best options for your child. Do note, however, that TCM may not be suitable in all instances. When faced with medical emergencies like fractures, or symptoms associated with acute illness, such as persistent high fever, abdominal pain, and severe constipation, diarrhea or vomiting, take your child to a hospital.
Myth #3: TCM and western therapies/conventional medical treatment should not be mixed
Truth: TCM can be used as a complement to conventional western medications and treatment to aid recovery. In fact, this has been gaining popularity, particularly in recent years. Do inform both your TCM practitioner and paediatrician if you are combining therapies. It is important that they are aware of what other medications and treatments your child is receiving as certain combinations could reduce the efficacy of both, or endanger health. It is also important to have at least a 2-hour gap between western medication and TCM to maximise efficacy.
Myth #4: Getting children to take TCM herbs is hard.
Truth: Despite the belief that Chinese herbs are bitter or hard to swallow, many herbal medicines that Eu Yan Sang carry come in powdered form and dissolve easily in liquids. The taste of the herbs is also something young ones easily get used to, especially if they are exposed to it early.
Myth #5: I can give my child a smaller dose of my own TCM medication, or his older brother’s, if they have the same illness.
Truth: Children are not miniature adults, so giving your child a lower dose of your own herbs is not a good idea. The bodies of children are immature both physically and functionally, and the cause and treatment of most common pediatric ailments – coughs, colds, allergies, asthma, diarrhea, indigestion etc – are linked to this immaturity. Even giving your child another child’s medication is not a good idea. The prescribed herbal medication is a combination of herbs that caters to both the individual child’s body constitution – his age, weight and height – and the presenting condition. This means that two children who present similar symptoms may be prescribed different herbal medications.
When considering TCM for your child, do consult a qualified TCM physician and ensure that all your TCM products are from a registered manufacturer.