Treating teenagers with acupuncture
As a mother of two teenagers I understand that they need a lot of space and an appropriate support.
They are going though enormous changes in their body; their mind is adjusting and emotions are bubbling. Being a teenager can be a very stressful experience.
Puberty can start as early as 8 years old in girls and 11 years old in boys, their brain does not stop developing until the age of 24 -25 so it can take a good decade for things to form and settle, and they definitely need good support.
Acupuncture is special in that it can help move the heavy, stuck energy of depression, settle the agitation of anxiety and help someone move forward. All this without the young person having to open up and talk when they might not have the words to express how they feel or not know where to start. The acupuncture needles can do their gentle work without words.
The most common reasons that teenagers come for treatment are:
Headaches and migraines
Painful periods (and other menstrual problems)
Sleep can be a problem during puberty, as they need 9-12 hours to allow body the proper rest. They tend to fall asleep 2-3 hours later in the evening than a young child or an adult, which is normal as the melatonin is not released until that time. It is therefore normal for teens to wake up 2-3 hours later in the morning than a young child or adult.
Acupuncture helps teens learn a strong and steady pattern of slowing their bodies down, letting go, to rest, breathe and unwind when needed. Self-care is an important thing to teach them, it is a skill that gets refined over time and serves them well. I like talking with my patients about selfcare and would try to come up some realistic ideas to adjust their lifestyle gently if that is required. They can use the Healthy Mind Platter created by Dr Dan Siegel, to see if there is a good balance of their activities.
As teenagers tend to be very sensitive I would use fewer points, use paediatric fine needles, or laser pen, very often moxa to help them to ground and center. The amount of treatments would depend on communication, severity of imbalances. I would suggest giving 5-10 treatments to see how they respond. Acupuncture is not a quick fix and time need to be allowed, with children and teenagers building the rapport is always a priority, not treatment can be forced on them and modalities need to be adjusted so they feel safe and are able to trust the practitioner.