Treating babies with Chinese Herbal Medicine

Tommy is an adorable little guy. Just eighteen months old, he is a happy, content baby. I treated his mother, Margaret, for infertility when she had difficulty conceiving Tommy after her first child was born 5 years previously. Now she comes in for monthly treatments.

At her last visit, she mentioned to me that suddenly Tommy had a dramatic change in temperament & behavior. Just after he turned 18 months, he began crying for hours at a time, waking up at night screaming and refusing to eat. His bowel habits had changed from several a day to only once, sometimes skipping a day.

As usual during Margaret’s treatment, Tommy was sleeping in the car with his grandmother. I told Margaret that I thought Tommy probably had had a virus that had affected his digestive system and that it sounded like he was having a lot of stomach cramps and gas. I thought his problem was minor and could be taken care of with one formula of Chinese herbs. I encouraged her to bring him in for me to look at.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we examine babies by looking at their tongues, as we do with adults. We also examine the color and condition of the blood vessel on the index finger of both hands. In adults, we take the pulse at the radial artery, just like in western medicine. In babies, the pulse is too fast and small to be able to diagnose from it so we use the blood vessel in the index finger. By stroking the finger, the vein stands out. Depending upon the color of the vein and the length of it into the finger when stroked, a diagnosis can be made.

Babies frankly hate this process. They don’t like their hand to be held by a stranger and they don’t like their finger to be stroked. It is the most benign process possible, but inevitably, they scream bloody murder. I’ve had patients in the waiting room think that I am performing acupuncture on babies, when in fact, I’m only stroking their fingers! Tommy had a typical reaction, much to the amusement of his mother.

Based upon Tommy’s tongue, index fingers and symptoms, I diagnosed Tommy as having a wind chill in his digestive system. I made a formula for Tommy to move the bowel, increase his appetite and eliminate gas. Margaret called me 4 days later and reported that he was completely better.

About Francine Ball, L.Ac.

I am a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Walnut Creek, California. I have been in private practice since 1984. In my practice I see a wide variety of patients with many types of health problems from late stage cancer to allergies and infertility, and everything in between. The age of my patients range from infants to 96 years old. I have many children and teenage patients. My areas of specialty are internal medicine, infertility and neurology.
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