Acupuncture for Kids?

by Corinne LeBlanc |

Acupuncture for Kids?

Acupuncture for kids?  Let me just start by answering my own question...a resounding yes!  Acupuncture for children has a long, rich history beginning in China and it's gaining popularity in the United States.

As a Pediatric Acupuncturist, I'm often asked two questions when it comes to providing this modality to children:

  1. My child is scared of needles, so how would you be able to help them?
  1. Why would I bring my child in for acupuncture in the first place?

Both are excellent questions that I wanted to take a stab at answering (no pun intended).

Question One: The Needles

This first question is such a good one. If you've never had acupuncture before, likely your experience with "needles" has been getting a shot or a blood draw. Both of these experiences can be unpleasant, and even downright traumatic for little ones.

The first thing to note is that acupuncture needles are VERY different from hypodermic needles. First, they are not hollow, so they do not draw anything out of, or put anything into, the body. Second, they are super tiny. Especially the ones that I use on kiddos - we're talking hair thin. Look at the photo below, maybe zoom in, and see if you can actually even see the needle underneath the green handle.

Photo by Jen Berryman Doula and Photographer

I have a feeling some of you still might be thinking, "Ok, I get that the needles are small, but my kid will NEVER let you near them with those things."

My answer? "Great! No problem - we will simply try another approach!" The incredible thing about practicing acupuncture and East Asian medicine as a whole is that we are trained in many different modalities. Especially those of us that choose to specialize in pediatrics: many of us dedicate our post-graduate studies to honing techniques that are super gentle while still being super effective.

My practice is probably about 30% traditional acupuncture with the needles that you see above. The other 70% is non-needle approaches like shonishin, laser acupuncture, moxa, herbal medicine, cupping, and medical massage.  Each of these techniques are giving similar messages to little bodies: they are intended to improve blood circulation, keep the immune system healthy, and keep that nervous system calm!

kids acupuncture

Photo by Jen Berryman Doula and Photographer

Question Two: What Can Acupuncture Do for Little Ones?

That leads me seamlessly into question two about what types of childhood health concerns acupuncture can help with. Here's my "A, B, C's" of acupuncture that I often use to describe its benefits: 

  • Activates immune response 
  • Brings about feelings of calm  
  • Circulates blood and oxygen to tissues and organs

Based on those three categories, we can more clearly see what acupuncture can address. For example, health issues that have an immune system component such as allergies, frequent ear infections or colds and flus, and asthma can all be helped by acupuncture.

Situations where a child may need help regulating their nervous system, like cases of ADHD, colic in babies, or difficulty sleeping can benefit from acupuncture treatments.  Poor circulation or needs that could benefit from improved blood flow - headaches, pain, constipation, eczema are a few - can definitely be helped by acupuncture.

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on


Corinne LeBlanc is the founder of Portland Pediatric Acupuncture - the first FULLY pediatric acupuncture clinic in Portland, OR. Families can bring their children for acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies, and a variety of non-needle techniques to inspire optimal health. Corinne created Portland Pediatric Acupuncture to be a loving and playful space where kids can be kids; and feel healthier while being their magically unique little selves. You can learn more about Corinne and her practice at

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